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August 28, 2008

Renovations

Over the past couple months I've had to put up with renovations to my apartment. I think they are finally done all they are going to do while I'm living there, although they continue with renovations in the building. Over the 9 month span from October 2, 2007 to June 12, 2008 there were 33 days of renovation work on my apartment which ranged from inspection to demolition. Over the course of it I've had to put up with short notices (often less than the required 24 hours), loss of use of kitchen and bathroom facilities and appliances, noise and early wake-ups, dust, dirt and extra cleaning, packing and moving belongings, loss of electrical power, hiding valuables, free roaming contractors, unlocked doors and faulty work. It's hard to gauge whether it was all worth it. It certainly wasn't my choice. The good, an updated kitchen thats more functional with more counter space, a new stove and the addition of a dishwasher. The bathroom got gutted and replaced with new fixtures and cabinets and especially a toilet that works and a nice large mirror. New flooring through the kitchen, bathroom and entry way and updated paint in those areas. New light fixtures, plugs and switches through out. A new A/C units thats more powerful. The bad, those new kitchen cabinets aren't exactly ideally placed or sized, there is much less usable storage space. The new stove heats up much more slowly. The shower curtain rod was hung in the wrong spot and the shower head is the worse I've ever used. The paint is uneven and there are spots that didn't adhere. The carpet they didn't replace, but will after I move out, has a horrible patch in it that was improperly installed and has a permanent stain. Last year they repainted the balcony railings, that paint job has already started to peel.

Continue reading for the day by day...

October 2, 2007

  • remove broom closet
  • remove medicine cabinet
  • remove tiles around bathroom sink
  • patch drywall for broom closet
  • patch drywall for medicine cabinet and sink
  • drywall bits and dust all over and I mean all over, deck to door to hall

October 11, 2007

  • stipple patch to ceiling where broom closet was removed

October 17, 2007

  • convert outlet for stove
  • new stove
  • doesn't fit as well, doesn't heat as fast

October 19, 2007

  • measure closet/storage doors

October 31, 2007

  • measure kitchen/bathroom cabinets

November 16, 2007

  • muck around with kitchen plumbing

November 19, 2007

  • replace electrical panel
  • add two new circuits (microwave, dishwasher)
  • split kitchen circuits (2 additional)
  • drywall around panel and patches for new wiring
  • additional plaster coat in bathroom
  • primer in bathroom
  • new light fixture in bathroom (hung in the wrong spot)
  • loss of power for the day
  • drywall bits and dust all over

November 28, 2007

  • new hydro smart parking plug installed (doesn't work)

November 29, 2007

  • replace kitchen light (broken glass left behind)

December 5, 2007

  • new kitchen and bathroom cabinets, sinks and bathroom mirror
  • 8am start time
  • the entire contents of the bathroom, ktichen and dining room had to be removed prior to this work

December 10, 2007

  • repair parking lot plug

December 12, 2007

  • landlord inspection

December 12, 2007

  • landlord inspection

December 17, 2007

  • cabinet adjustment

January 4, 2008

  • dishwasher arrived

January 5, 2008

  • dishwasher installed

January 8, 2008

  • remove tub, drywall, tiles and plumbing in the bathroom
  • replace tub and plumbing
  • big mess of damp drywall left in the walls
  • loss of use of tub/shower on short notice

January 9, 2008

  • drywall tub area, start tiling

January 10, 2008

  • grout tiles (can't use tub until Jan 11 6pm)
  • no shower curtain rod
  • tub plumbing fixtures installed

January 16, 2008

  • shower curtain rod (shower disabled for 9 days)
  • put in the wrong spot, hangs too far into tub

January 17, 2008

  • replace bedroom closet doors (not enough screws)
  • from bi-fold to sliding mirror

February 16, 2008

  • tub spout broke, plumbing installation failed

February 19, 2008

  • fix tub spout (quick fix, not proper)

March 12, 2008

  • paint/prime bathroom ceiling

March 13, 2008

  • paint bathroom, kitchen, dinning room wall
  • replace dinning room, bedroom and entrance light fixtures
  • replace all electrical switches, plugs and thermostats
  • replace door handles bathroom, bedroom ($10 special at rona)
  • walls uneven, paint drops, electrical chipped paint
  • plugs overtightened
  • several plugs don't work afterwards
  • no notice of loss of power for the day

March 14, 2008

  • second coat of paint, paint drops
  • paint hall wall with panel
  • fix electrical plugs (seems they fixed them live or didn't flip the right breaker)
  • paint drops on appliances, fixtures, countertops, cabinets, carpet
  • 1 hour to clean up the mess that was left behind

March 15, 2008

  • inspection

March 31, 2008

  • inspection
  • looking at the same stuff as last time, they didn't seem remember what they had done before or resolve the issues
  • asked if I would remove all belongings so they could replace flooring through out the apartment, no thanks

April 7, 2008

  • replace flooring in bathroom, hall, hall closets, kitchen
  • patch carpet in dining room (badly patched, they used more carpet as the underlay and a piece of carpet with a stain for the patch)
  • replace toilet
  • replace baseboards in areas with new flooring
  • dirty, razor blades lying around
  • glue on walls, cupboards, counter tops and flooring
  • baseboards aren't that good or properly installed
  • flooring is crooked
  • toilet installed improperly, water cutoff level set above drain, could run forever, float rubs against side

April 25, 2008

  • flooring inspection

April 30, 2008

  • inspection

May 29, 2008

  • scheduled install date for A/C
  • required moving my entire entertainment unit out of the way

May 30, 2008

  • replaced A/C

June 12, 2008

  • replaced hall closet doors

June 14, 2008

  • various days, replace central hallway lighting (blocking the stairwell just when I needed to load up the car)

September 2-5, 2008

  • replace central hall carpeting, required access to suite

September 10, 2008

  • inspection

September 12, 2008

  • A/C unit crashed and needed reboot

October 31, 2008

  • paint central hallways

November 3-4, 2008

  • paint central hallways

November 5-6, 2008

  • paint doorways, required suite entry (very ugly colors)

November 20, 2008

  • repair A/C cavity, insulate

February 20, 2009

  • reframe A/C

June 4, 2009

  • replace bedroom window
  • damage to walls around window
  • damage to wall in entry way
  • less than 24 hours notice
  • it appears they swapped blinds with another apartment

June 18-19, 2009

  • missed install window for new patio door

June 22, 2009

  • replaced patio door
  • didn't rehang blinds
  • didn't clean up
  • door slides opposite, incorrect way now

June 23, 2009

  • hang blinds
  • clean up, mostly

July 14, 2009

  • start replacement of fences in parking lot

July 28-29, 2009

  • masons work on repairing exterior brick
  • start prior to 8am

August 26-28, August 31-September 3, September 9, September 30, 2009

  • continued work on the parking lot
  • random scatter parking during this time
  • fence construction is finished

October 9, 2009

  • electrical work in the parking lot finishes
  • random scatter parking continues

November 7, 2009

  • parking spots are renumbers and a few days later assigned parking returns

November 9, 2009

  • lamps in the parking lot are installed
  • lots of illumination in the parking lot
  • need to keep blinds totally closed to sleep though, very bright

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August 26, 2008

Music Acquisition

I've never quite jumped on board the online music bandwagon. It all just seems too complicated to me. The DRM and Terms of Service alone leave me with no idea if I own the music or for how long. Let alone where, when or how I may be able to play it in the future. The failure and closure of many music services recently makes my point that you never really own music purchased this way. The other big problem is that I now need to store and keep track of many bits of music data. I don't trust myself to be able to do that, computers are just too flaky. A series of disk failures, data corruption and backups that don't seem to want to restore pushed me over the edge. I've started buying a lot more CDs recently. But it sure has become much harder, CDs seem to have gone out of style, stock is down, prices are up, secondary markets are all but non-existent. I always preferred the tangible to the intangible anyway.

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Rush Hour

It's simply amazing how the traffic patterns change with time. If you are traveling somewhere during the morning or evening rush hour, the traffic tends to move swiftly and smoothly along, even though it is quite a bit more congested than other times. If you travel between the two rushes, during the middle of the day, quite the contrary happens, traffic moves slowly and unpredictably. There are a couple things I attribute it to. First, commuters tend to know exactly where they are going and how they are getting there, they are efficient and expedient and feel competent enough to drive every day to work. In contrast, those folks who are driving during the mid-day are much less likely to know where they are going or how to get there, they are also more likely to be the less competent drivers in our society.

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Shampoo Huh?

I haven't been able to find my regular shampoo in any store in a couple months. I asked the manufacturer why that was and got the most confusing and disorganized response I ever recall receiving:

Thanks for writing!

This product is available through national distribution to any store willing to stock it. We suggest that you speak with your store managers and let them know you are interested in the product.

Please note that [Product X] only makes the Shampoo and Conditioners for the Naturals line. All other [Product X] products have been discontinued.

Urge them to contact their distributor so they may carry it on their shelves. We will forward your comments to the Brand Manager and the distribution staff. We hope you will be able to find this product in your area soon.

Thanks for your interest!

The jist, the product is discontinued except for their new "for Naturals" line.

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August 18, 2008

Mall Gift Certificates

When they first came out with gift certificates you could use throughout a shopping mall I was confused as to how they would pull that off without making a big mess. Well it seems that they create a credit card with a depreciating balance. Sounds simple enough then, it just gets rung up at the till like any other credit card. But seeing as they generally have such a small balance, your purchase is going to be well in excess of its value. That's where the fun comes in as most stores can't accept payment via two credit cards. So you are stuck with whatever payment combo limitations they have. In order to spend these gift certificates I've been forced to obtain a store credit card and do all kinds of weird money transfer/purchase/laundering/juggling transactions to get it to work. The most recent transaction involved purchasing a store gift card in the amount of the balance of the mall gift card, in this case I had two gift cards and that required two separate purchase transactions, one for each card. Then using the two store gift cards against the merchandise purchase along with my credit card. Oddly the gift cards have an expiry of January 1, 3025, ya, over a 1000 years into the future, who picked that? The clerks are always confused too and present a very confusing set of options. It starts with, nope can't do it, wait, maybe we can do this or that, do you want to do this or that? I don't care what you have to make the cash register do, here's my gift certificate and my credit card, make it so.

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August 08, 2008

If you build it...

One of the more telling things to come out of the whole debacle that was the Rogers Wireless iPhone launch was this quote from the Rogers CEO

Our challenge is to ... make it easy for customers to understand one gigabyte is more than enough.
It reminded me of "640K ought to be enough for anybody." But more so that they seem to continue down the same limited mindset. The wireless providers seem fixed on an all encompassing end to end design, controlling everything from the content to the browser. I've been suggesting for quite some time that they focus simply on providing the network, let the applications and content sort themselves out. They've built expensive and impressive networks and continue to improve them, but access is so constrained. Price the access at a reasonable price, make it widely accessible and I think you'll have an explosion of users and uses. The possibilities when you have near ubiquitous data access on a mobile device are immense.

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Online Billing

I understand the motivation and benefit behind online billing but I never use it. Why? I don't trust corporations. I want to see my bill every month to review the charges. If it's online I might not remember to look every month and I don't have any expectation that there is a reliable reminder that my bill is available for viewing. I want to be able to keep records going back as long as I feel like and I don't know how long my online bill may be viewable. I don't trust that my online bill won't be altered either unintentionally or intentionally. I don't believe than an online billing system will be as bug free as my existing paper bills. I'd much rather have a paper bill in case of dispute, it carries far more weight in my mind.

Finally what makes me most weary is that there usually seems to be a hard white black decision between online or paper, you can't get both. I don't see why I can't be able to view my bills online and try out the online billing system, but continue to receive paper bills.

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