One of the coolest videos I have ever seen

Thanks to Jojo for sending this my way. This dude in Hamilton plays Subdivisions by Rush, on a rooftop, with an incredible integration of guitars, loop pedals and a pocket recorder. A+!

The Move: Credits

It should be obvious that I'm not any kind of hero or solo flier in this whole moving-in process.

But in case it's not explicitly clear, I want to extend heartfelt thanks to many people, including the following:

- mortgage broker Jeff Maldaver for getting us a great rate with Scotiabank

- agents Jim & Jackie Pitt from Century 21 Trident for holding our hands through the buying process

- lawyer Fergus Ford for answering his phone personally when we called -- although I've yet to meet the guy

- home inspector Sam Lorefice for pointing out some of the problems with the property

- handyman and contractor galore Phil for doing a bang-up job of banging out the closet, panelling, trim, paint, crown and more, and giving us a fair, honest price with lots of insightful feedback

- Cory at Modern Refrigeration and Air Conditioning for giving us a better deal on our HRV

- Mark at Home Office Media Evolution for giving me the home network of my (short-term) dreams with minimal disruption, and making me feel like a smart guy!

- TD Meloche-Monnex for getting us a great rate on home and auto insurance

- Ace Lock and Alarm for making the home secure

- Marriott's Moving for getting our stuff into the home in record time, with no damage to our stuff or the walls

- Desiree and Erin at work for providing so many boxes

- Rodney at work for lending equipment and expertise in helping realize the home network

- Bill at work for helping move the last of the stuff out of the old apartment

- Everyone at work for filling in the gap while I worked on the house

- Halifax Freecycle for helping get rid of a few things and getting us even more boxes

- The previous homeowners for leaving us landmines that'll make us more savvy shoppers if we ever move again

- Mom & dad for generous support, tons of advice and lots of questions

- Sandra for writing my first letter in the mail

- Blog readers for following along

- Friends and family for support and encouragement

- And of course, Amanda for .... everything!

I hope to return to regular programming soon.... and of course, a before-and-after spectacular once the decorating is mostly done.

The Move: Shovelling and travel

I don't like shovelling. I don't like shovelling a gravel driveway. I don't like shovelling a gravel driveway covered in ice. I don't like shovelling a gravel driveway covered in ice while it's blowing snow. I don't like shovelling a gravel driveway covered in ice while it's blowing snow, then going out two hours later after the blowing snow has changed to freezing rain. And I don't like not being sure whether there's one or two l's in the middle of shovelling.

Transit to and from work has been a mixed bag. I've been spoiled for a long long time because since 1992, I've lived within a block or two from major public transit points, with my workplace being a block or two from a major public transit points. Now I'm out in suburbia, a block or two from a bus stop that's actually someone's driveway, on a street served by a rush-hour-only bus, and an every-half-hour-if-it's-on-time bus.

The bus requires me to connect with another bus to get to or from work or home.

The trip in to work seems the most straightforward: short layover, reasonable transit time.

The trip home is a bit more dicey: if I miss the first bus, which comes by about 10 minutes after my regular work shift ends, I'm, as they say, f'd in the a. And if I *do* catch that bus, and it's *right on time*, I have about 3 minutes to hustle two blocks and catch the bus out to home -- otherwise, it's another half-hour wait to get home.

So far I'm one for three in catching the last-leg homebound bus on time. And the in-to-work bus that gets me in nice 'n quicklike is only in service during the university school year. So, as you can imagine, I can foresee really really wanting a car by the springtime.

The Move: Expenses mount

We got our new Heat Recovery Ventilator installed for about half the price that Sears quoted us. Seems like it works great! That was, oh, $1300+. We only got $1000 off the sale price of the house based on what the home inspector found, so on that alone we're beyond what we got out of the vendors.

And recently we had an appliance repairman come in to fix a part on our dishwasher. The dishwasher was smelly, stinky, foul and the handle was broken. Well, the repairman noted a bunch of other things wrong with it, too. He called the previous homeowners "animals" as he exclaimed angrily about how they abused this otherwise fantastic dishwasher. This dishwasher we've seen for, what, $700 at Home Despot.

So we paid him, what, $80, to tell us that we'd be better off just getting a new dishwasher.

Oh, and replace the plumbing under the sink, because whoever hooked it up put the shutoff valve *after* the dishwasher connection. In other words, to uninstall the dishwasher, we'd have to turn off the water to the entire house. Idiots.

Now it's back to washing dishes by hands.

All the other major systems are performing just fine. The air exchanger exchanges air, the shower showers, the doors door and the windows window. The house is a little cold, but that's because it's been stupidly cold outside lately and we're concerned about keeping our electricity bills low.

Speaking of which -- we got a great deal on compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) at Home Despot, and have been installing them hither and thither. But whoever hooked up the upstairs lights had a dimmer fetish. The kitchen, dining room, bathroom and bedroom all have dimmers. And traditional CFLs are not for dimmers. They're for on-off, inside, right-side-up, period. There are dimmable and outdoor CFLs available, but they're prohibitively expensive. For now, we're CFLing lamps and putting lower-wattage bulbs in the dimmer-fed fixtures and outside.

Y'know what's (potentially) grinding my gears about all this? We've shelled out thousands of dollars in the past month on pre-move-in renos, repairs, painting and cleaning ... and this week, the Harper government announced a fancypants tax credit dealy for people who spend thousands of dollars on renos, repairs, painting and whatnot. I'm gonna be so cheesed if it's not retroactive to the start of this year, 'cuz you bet I want to get some of that money back! I bet we're already excluded from the New Home Buyer tax credit (if word I've heard about it existing is true), 'cuz we closed on December 31. Mooooo.

The Move: Update on cable-phone-internet

Yes, indeed, we have moved!

On the cable-phone-internet fiasco: the installer called on the Tuesday saying he'd be there in five minutes ... then, five minutes later, called to say he was at the front door. Problem was, he was at the front door of Our Streetname Avenue in Halifax, not Our Streetname Crescent in Timberlea. He said his company doesn't handle our town, but another contractor does, and we'd have to call the company to sort it out. I said he should sort it out and call us back. He didn't. I called the company and spent 40 minutes trying to get service on the same day. They said nope, we can come out on Friday. Four days later. After escalating the call to a supervisor, I was told I'd be called back ASAP with a rescheduled date. 24 hours later, I called the company to say no one called me back -- they said oh. Well, we can help you on Friday. And we won't be giving you any discounts beyond the free installation and offer of free digital cable installation we were already getting. Well, poop.

So, the cable-phone-internet guy came over on Friday and was just great. He hooked me up and helped me label some of the cables in the ratsnest of coax beside the electrical panel. I learned a few things. But it sounded like the company was giving *him* the gears, suggesting the move order was from Our Streetname Avenue to Our Streetname Crescent, not from Our Apartment Downtown to Our Streetname Crescent.

Coincidentally, I work in the same building as the cable-phone-internet company, and I've made casual acquaintance with one of the folks in the company's customer retention division. I told her my tale of woe, and she looked into my case. I am happy to report she's made amends to our account to my complete satisfaction.

In the end, it's a grudging win and endorsement for Eastlink, which I'm told offers the fastest high-speed internet in Canada (with no traffic caps!). And farewell to Bell relative Aliant, who we were only with because Eastlink didn't offer telephone service at our old apartment.

For those trying to contact me, my phone number remains the same. My email addresses are the same. The postal address has changed.

We have moved

Wow. After a ton of painting and cleaning -- with more to come -- we have moved!

We're at a convenience store right now getting money to pay the movers. They showed up at 9, and we're done before 1:30. Wow. Good work by that crew!

We have no phone, cable or internets -- more on that in a later post. So we'll be living a semirural existence for another coupla days.

Lots of work still ahead.

Talk to you all soon!

Paint is just "pain" with a "t"

Tired and sore from continued work at the new homestead.

Phil the Carpenter demolished the closet, took down the paneling, put up new drywall, taped, mudded and will be sanding in the morning. Thank cheebus for Phil, 'cuz if we had to do this ourselves, it'd a) take forever, b) be expensive and c) kill us and fifthly, probably turn out like some kind of crap. And although my dad has volunteered to come out in the spring and help us take care of some stuff, this is stuff that was best done now, before all the furniture and stuff gets in the way. I wouldn't want to be living in this much dust.

Mark the Cable Guy arrived today with the patch panel for the Big Ass Super Network, so Phase One of Operation: Make House Go Real Real Soopah Fast is done. Now the Cable Guy Proper (ie. from the cable company) has to come on Tuesday to hook up the connection to the outside world.

Cory the HVAC Guy sent his crew to install the new Heat Recovery Ventilator today. Now we have fresh air provided by a clean machine that, as best as we can tell, is not famous for burning down houses.

The products and services provided by Phil, Mark and Cory are costing about half as much as our wedding. No judgement there, mind you -- just math.

Home Despot has a bunch of our money in exchange for paint, tape and supplies. Amanda and I have become a productive painting squadron. I mask the room in tape (after learning that neither of us can cut a straight line across ceilings or trim), paint the edges, and she follows along with a roller. Today we took on the living room and dining room and applied a second coat of primer to the dark green walls of the den/dungeon/executive library/fourth-bedroom/room of coffered wood. Looks bloody awesome.

Tomorrow I presume we'll be doing the master bedroom, studio/man room and kitchen. The day after (whatever day that is, I'm having trouble keeping track) may be the day to go through and paint all the trim, since it's all due to be the same colour. And we'll also need to touch up the ceilings, since, as I inferred, mistakes were made.

Speaking of unattributed mistakes being made with no responsibility taken, congratulations to George Dubya Bush on the end of his reign. Local radio station Q104 is doing a "Bye Bye Bush" promotion, running some of The Decider's most hilarious misspeaks in combination with a contest to win a free Brazilian wax treatment at a local spa. Bye Bye Bush. Get it? Very clever.

In other news, painting hurts. Packing is not fun. And nutrition and coordinated exercise have been absent since the holidays.

And it occurred to me -- so what? I mean, almost everyone I know has done this -- buy a house, move in, etc. Seriously, who cares? Just because we're doing it for our first time doesn't mean it's interesting to anyone other than us. So, if this is all boring to you, I apologize. It's more like a diary entry for me, and a communications post for those who should rightly be in the loop, but aren't contacted often enough because of time pressures or laziness on my part.

So to those people: I'm thinking of you, and eagerly looking forward to showing off the finished product!

Now, it is time to take some Aspirin and get some sleep ... because there's more ass to kick in the morning!

Demo is under way!

Work is progressing at a steady place at the new house.

The cabling guy finished up most of his work yesterday, installing two runs of cat6 ethernet cabling to five rooms in the house. He ended up cutting some holes in the drywall in various rooms, but nothing too drastic.

The demo crew came in yesterday and tore up the landing at the bottom of the stairs, the stairway, and around the front door. Wow, what a difference. The tear-down revealed some neat stuff in the ceiling (check the link to Flickr). Most importantly, ripping out the closet in the laundry room opened up a whole lot of space. We hope one day to put a chest freezer in there.

Today they're expecting to put up new drywall and start taping and mudding and all that.

A second-opinion call about the Heat Recovery Ventilator paid off. The new guy's estimate is about half as expensive and about a tenth as scary as the guy from Sears.

Still working on getting the dishwasher addressed. Beyond missing a door handle, the thing is filthy and we can't figure out how to put the drawers in properly, if the drawers are even intact.

This weekends tasks include caulking the tubs, filling nail, screw and anchor holes in the walls, and hopefully starting on some painting.

Oh, and we have to pack the apartment. Yeah, that.

Big Ass Superstar: Top-ten recording artist

Thanks to all the Big Ass Super Fans who helped push my cover of Cub's "Ticket To Spain" to the #3 spot on the chart for the past year at onlinemusicnetwork.ca.

Onlinemusicnetwork.ca is a web site set up by some Halifax guys to play and promote Canadian music, online. It's currently my chosen site for hosting all my BigAssSuperstar tunes, touring info, etc.

I'm honored to even have my music on the web -- but to have a song in the top 50 ... top 20 ... and here in the top five is outrageously awesome to me. Thanks to everyone who dropped by for a listen in the past year.

And if you haven't yet -- head over there now, get a free login, and check out the songs at my page on onlinemusicnetwork.ca. Sign up as a fan and please rate my songs. Much appreciated.

Home archaeology


Home archaeology, Jacob, originally uploaded by BigAssSuperBlog.

While cleaning the new house, I found this scrawled on the closet door frame in the spare room. Looks like it used to be the kids' room, some time in the past 14 years. I'm finding other little bits and pieces that are giving me clues about who's lived here before. Like the electrical panel that shows how the basement was done after the rest of the house. Like all the woodwork in the den -- the room with, what, 14 electrical outlets, suggesting an owner with a fetish for power or a resident electrician. A phone company slip from 2007 with a name I may look up on facebook. It's our space now, but was home to strangers before us.

I've added a bunch of home pictures on the Big Ass Photo Gallery -- most of them are marked for 'friends and family' viewing, out of respect for our privacy and security. If you're friends or family and aren't yet on my Flickr contacts list, drop me a note. Sorry, General Public!

New home, new headaches

Finally got in to the new home and now we're sore from cleaning. Cleaning, cleaning, cleaning. Cleaned all the cupboards and appliances in the kitchen. Cleaned the bedrooms. Amanda spent all Sunday cleaning every teeny tiny surface in the upstairs bathroom, turning the brown bathtub white, and pulling a cat's worth of hair out of the drain. Eww.

Now we're on to any renovations that need to be done before moving in.

We had a friend of the family come in to give us an estimate for turning a makeshift closet in the laundry room back into the wall it once was ... plus take down some eyesore wood panelling, patch up this 'n that, and do some other cosmetic whatsits. Estimate: $2500 for labour, plus materials.

We had a guy from Sears come in to check out the HRV -- heat recovery ventilator, which is like an air exchanger that saves the heat as it refreshes the air -- after the home inspector noticed some damage and said it had been running without a filter.

Big surprising news here -- our HRV was a model that was recalled because it burned down a few houses. The service guy disconnected it right away and suggested spending $2500 on a new model. Not only that, he says the air vent in the kitchen is full of mould. Maybe that explains the funky smell we keep noticing there and in the bathroom. It's not sewer gas.

So, there's $5000+ we were not counting on spending, right off the bat. Cindy and the others were certainly right when they warned things would pop up that we weren't expecting.

Oh, on the good-news side -- a guy is coming in on Wednesday to start fishing through the house to add Cat6 cable for high-speed networking, VOIP, in-house audio etc. *That* price is more reasonable and affordable.

2009 in Halifax starts with a bang and a blizzard

We stayed in on New Year's Eve to catch the fireworks at City Hall for the last time. It's been our tradition to stand on the balcony with champagne and take in the big show -- we have (had?) the best view in town.

The first year (check my old flickr photos) was simply spectacular ... living up to the title of Most Terrifyingly Awesome Fireworks Display in Atlantic Canada.

Last year was just lame. So lame, the Casino did its own fireworks show right afterward that put the city to shame.

This year's show made up for it. The blizzard snow flying through the air gave the searchlights something to cling to as they waved through the sky all night long. The fireworks seemed just arm's length away as the snow gave context to the stage instead of seeing them explode in a wide field of darkness.

But damn, it was cold.

Here's an over-the-shoulder shot as Amanda felt her sternum shake from the blasts a block away.

Happy 2009, everyone! It'll surely be a landmark year.

Out back at the new house


Out back at the new house, originally uploaded by BigAssSuperBlog.

Snapped this shot during the final walk-through. Here's the backyard view from the top of the stairs at our two-storey shed. Big back yard eh? Fire pit, horseshoe pits with horseshoes. Check the Big Ass Flickr Gallery for a few more pics from closing day.

We'd intended to spend much of New Year's Day at the house, but Halifax has been snowed in by a 24-hour blizzard, so ... that'll have to wait!

Today was my last day at work, and I'm okay with that

Today marks a weird spot on the calendar for me. It’s one of those landmarks that really doesn’t mean anything, other than to illustrate the...