Renovations – a couple of months later

Now that we’ve had a few months to live with and consider some of our renovation choices I just wanted to share some of my thoughts.

One big change that I would make is to NOT go with fitting the standalone bathtub into an alcove. Even though they offer the bead kit that will prevent water from seeping through and damaging the wall, and even though Tommy made sure that there was going to be a great seal with caulking, etc. to back that up, the fact is that the bathtub itself lacks a sufficient slope for the water to cascade down the wall and flow into the tub. Instead it tends to accumulate around the base of the wall.

After each shower we make sure to quickly wipe up the excess water to prevent mould from forming from this accumulation.

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Our toilets are GREAT, they have overcome our bungalow’s naturally sluggish sewer drainage and all perform consistently and well. However, Michelle didn’t favor the flush handles and so we installed some that protruded from the tank by a good inch or so over the original ones. This means that the toilet seat lid rests against the handle. The flush is VERY vigorous and can be felt through the handle when they are depressed. What this means is that the handles are wearing through the toilet seat lids.

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It’s gotten bad enough that, if we’re not careful, the handle can actually be held down by the friction of the toilet seat and allow the water to flow slightly after the flush. This is remedied by pulling the seat forward when flushing but these handles will need to be replaced.In designing the bed end tables, I specified that the cupbard doors open “traditionally” with the hinge on the side and the handle in the middle. I was thinking of “normal” use such as accessing the cupbard when standing in front of it. This, of course, makes it awkward to open if you’re in bed which is when you want the most convenience. So I’d have these cupbards open the other way. I may be able to swap the doors from the right and left end tables… hmmm.

I had elected to have only the heating lamp and not the fan on a timer in our master bathroom. I’ve never had a fan timer before in there and I was simply used to it. But, given the risk of mould from the water accumulation above I’d now like to put in a timer for the fan so I can have it run for an extra hour after we’re done in there, but not for the whole day. Since the fan is on a half-size switch, I need to think about a way to do it, but nothing obvious comes to mind.

I don’t think there is anything I could have done about this, but the thermo-balanced faucet does come at a water-throughput price. It’s not nearly so bad as those severly “lo-flo” fixtures but I can see that it does limit the water somewhat. I don’t have a problem conserving water (you can just look at my water bill to see that) but my morning shower isn’t a place that I wish to scrimp. I temporarily replaced the new showerhead with the one that used to be there and I could tell that there was some restriction imposed by the new head itself. This was resolved by a quick trip out to the garage and drilling out the restriction. But there is still a limitation imposed by the faucet itself that I’m willing to accept for the great temperature control features that it offers.

Aside from those trifles (the bathtub being the one that I would most caution folks about) we’re still extremely pleased with the work and the results. It wasn’t cheap, but you need to invest your time and/or your money to get what you want in life. Lacking the great amount of time it would take (and some of the requisite skills) the money trade-off was well worth it to us.

Cookie Lesson Learned

My department at work held its annual Thanksgiving potluck lunch. I decided I’d make some of my chocolate chip cookies for this event and set to work.

I’ve been tailoring this recipe for years now. When I found I was going to be a little light on the flour I rationalized that the original recipe had actually only called for exactly as much flour as I had available so I would just go with what I had.

Unfortunately, it seems some of the other “tweaks” I’ve made to the recipe over the years depend on the right proportion of flour and the dough melted rapidly and spread out on the cookie sheets. There it browned rather nicely and became somewhat crispy such that, when I tried to pull up the cookies with a spatula, the outer, crisped edges broke away. Leaving me with a bunch of soft “cookie hearts” that, while still tasting great, looked absolutely wretched.

I *was* able to salvage some cookies (they turned out OK due, presumably, to temperature differences between the upper and lower oven racks) but the vast majority I didn’t think looked very appealing (they’re in the foreground below)…

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So I ended up buying some pastries and will next time go out and get the flour when I’m low!

Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial

Mich and I just finished watching Nova’s “Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial” on PBS.

I was very pleased to see that the ID proponents got their butts handed to them in their outrageous attempt to further dilute what is already considered to be a shaky science curriculum. We very much need to grow up, put away the fairy tales and begin to accept what life has to offer us without hiding behind our mother’s skirts.

What was very clear to me from the statements of the ID proponents was that the point of the judgment against their actions was completely lost on them. I too believe, as George W. Bush was stated to have said, that ID needs to be discussed and presented to students so that they understand these issues. But the proper forum for ID is NOT a science class. *Social Science* perhaps, for it’s relevance in society today, or mythology, for it’s quaint point of view for folks unable to grasp epochal aeons of time (check out my opinion in the 7th paragraph of this blog entry) .

I have to say that the scariest part of the show was the discussion about “The Wedge” strategy whose primary instigator seeks nothing less than a complete regression of folks’ literacy and life outlook to a more religious perspective. Let’s see… can we think of a time when that was the case?  Hmmm.. Yes, indeed, it was called “the dark ages”.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

I’ve been tailoring a bunch of recipes for years. This is my always-tasty recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies. I originally pulled it off of a “Chipits” package nearly two decades ago and have been tweaking it ever since.

Try it, you’ll like it!

Marc’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 c    shortening
3/4 c    brown sugar, firmly packed
1    egg
1 tsp    vanilla
1-1/4 c    all purpose flour
1/2 tsp    baking soda
1/2 tsp    salt
1/2 c    chipits semi-sweet chips
1/2 c    Milk chocolate Chips

Cream together shortening and brown sugar.
Beat in egg and vanilla.
Combine flour, baking soda and salt.
Add flour mixture gradually to creamed mixture, mixing well.
Stir in Chipits and nuts.
Drop by teaspoonfuls (generous in size) onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 F
for 10 minutes (final cookies should about 2 inches in diameter).
Bake for 2 more minutes for crispy cookies (maybe less).

– It’s *much* easier to make 2 single batches than to make a double batch.
– It’s critical to have a uniform consistency after both the first creaming step and after beating in the egg and vanilla. This makes or breaks the recipe.

Hollow Point Through Gelatin

Again with the slow motion. As I’ve mentioned before I’m a sucker for time lapse and accelerated photography.

The world is such a product of our perception and, as amazing and full as the world as we know it is, step yourself down or up in time rate and it becomes a completely new realm.

There is so much that we don’t understand until we can look at it from a different time perspective. The growth of plants, the movement of animals, the explosion of a balloon. All of these are revealed to us as exciting dynamics so completely different from our initial conception when explored in an alternate time sense…