Issues with hydronic heating

We’ve had a few issues with the heating system over the years…the largest being a complete new system being needed, but the other thing that happens is that parts wear out and we need them replaced.

Years ago there was one instance where we couldn’t figure out why we weren’t getting heat upstairs sometimes but downstairs was fine.  Turns out that the valve supplying the hot water upstairs was stuck open and it would only deliver hot water upstairs whenever the downstairs called for heat.

Back in 2020 we had a similar thing happen and we found a hydronic heating guy in Orleans to come and check it out.  I wasn’t around but Vero made it sound like he said something like “This was a pretty small job.  You’re lucky I came out for it.” or something to that effect.  Vero can’t remember the exact words but it got me thinking that maybe I should try my hand at fixing things with the heating system again.

Now…I tried my hand at this for many years before and I really messed up big time at one point and I decided it wasn’t worth it.  We’re talking ‘pressure build up in the boiler and the pressure release valve blowing and water going everywhere in the storage room’ kind of issue.

This week the heating has been sporadic upstairs and it’s either the motor going on the valve or as before, the teeth in the gear wear down and the gears skip which sometimes makes it impossible to open up the valve.

But now, armed with the knowledge that the previous heating specialist hinted that this was a pretty easy job, we did some searching on YouTube and it sure looks like it’s easy to replace the motorized valve.  I ordered on from British Columbia so here’s to hoping I don’t update this blog in a week’s time saying we broke something!


Fixing the shower door

It’s been a decade since we renovated the upstairs bathroom and clearly it’s starting to show its age after I noticed the shower door was having some issues.

Turns out that the larger pane of glass is held at the bottom by this metal clamp.  Unfortunately the screw holding the clamp in place in to the tile had completely rusted and sheared off.

Luckily it wasn’t too hard to disassemble.  I did some research and found out that stainless steel screws are the way to go if you don’t want anything to rust.  I have no idea if we did use a stainless steel screw in the past.  I suppose I can’t complain after a decade of use!

Perhaps it’s also a good time to redo some silicone around the shower.  It could use some love.


Snowboarding and board games

Sierra and Ezra practicing some snowboarding while being towed to school

My morning routine consists of the utter insanity which is trying to get two kids ready to leave the house in time for school and daycare.  It’s a constant “Please get dressed.  No really, please get dressed.  Stop looking in the mirror and wiping plaque off of your teeth with your finger, that’s what a toothbrush is for.  Ok fine, it’s ok to take plaque off with your finger but only after you’ve finished getting ready for school.”

Once we get out the door it’s an assessment of the road conditions.  Most days I’m bringing the stroller in tow.  But if there is a dump of snow then I’ll be bringing the deep sled (named Sybil’s Sled as she sent some money a few years ago for Christmas and that’s what we purchased).

Another dump of snow means another trek in the giant sled!

Then some days I miscalculate and while I think there’s enough snow on our road, there sure isn’t enough when I get closer to the school.  This results in everyone being miserable…I don’t like dragging a piece of plastic over asphalt.  The kids have to get out and walk.  Actually, Sierra has to get up and walk, I still have to drag Ezra over asphalt to get to daycare because it would take him awhile.  I never realized how hard it was to decide what mode of transportation to take!

Vero has been mentioning that next year will be different and Ezra will be old enough to walk most of the way on his own so I can foresee a future without any stroller in tow!  Which saddens me a little because the kids sure love riding on that stroller together.

Ezra is pretty tall as he can finally touch the gate!

In other news, I came home from work (alright, alright, I emerged from the basement and went upstairs) and Ezra was trying to build a board game so I helped him with that.

The game is currently called Set Racer for reasons unknown to me.  We even made a homemade die to roll.

Goal of the game: To get to the end first.  There are six squares from Start to the End.

Rules of the game:

  • Youngest player rolls first
  • You advance/reverse your statue depending on what you roll.  There are the possibilities of rolling a 1, -1 and a 2.
  • If you are the first player to land on a square with a small square in it, you get the bead!  The bead moves to your small square and you get to advance an extra space.  Ezra really really really wanted a bead to be part of the game so that’s how we figured it should be incorporated.
    • The bead just sits there.  You can only win it once and you can’t lose it.
  • First person to get to END wins the game!  So far Ezra has been winning quite a bit against me and he is very excited when he get yell “I AM FINISHED!!!”

Twenty years of digital video

I was chatting with Carrie today and she was wondering if I had video of something funny Rob did years ago.  It made me go down the rabbit hole of my videos.

On Google Photos I simply typed in ‘search all videos’ and I scrolled to the beginning and it all started in 2003.

That really made me think for a bit.  It’s been 20 years since I had the ability to record digital videos in the palm of my hand.

Now, it may have been available to others a bit before then.  In professional circles, we all know that Star Wars Episode II – Attack of the Clones was filmed digitally and was a big deal in convincing movie theaters to get digital projectors instead of the old film projectors.  George Lucas was always on the forefront of technology.

But it wasn’t until 2003 that I had a digital camera capable of taking videos.  We’re not talking about large videos here…one of the first videos I have recorded is 0.3MP, 640×480 resolution.  Nowadays that would probably take up 0.00000001% of the memory on my phone but back then you didn’t really take a lot of long videos.  Probably a 2 minute video would fill up your entire memory card!

It’s such a mindtrip to think about that technology and how great it was, but not so great at the same time.  Camcorders had better resolution and storage capabilities but a digital camera could fit in your pocket and you had this really tiny screen to check out the photos and the videos you just snapped.  Heaven forbid you actually wanted to print those out.  The resolution to do so wouldn’t be there for a few years.

It’s pretty amazing that I have twenty second snippets of my life starting from 2003.  I know for a fact that I don’t have all of them as an external hard drive broke on me and I lost all my photos and videos.  I could only manage to salvage whatever I had uploaded to Flickr and I don’t think they allowed videos back then.  I have a feeling I had some stuff backed up on CD-Rs and managed to salvage some stuff or get it from friends whom I shared photos/videos with.

It’s really wild to think about what we had to deal with back then to capture, watch and store video back then.  The lighting was always horrible with the videos taken in the pubs.  Why did we even bother?  But it was always great fun to go home at the end of the night and review all the photos and videos that were taken that night.

I look at what my kids now have in terms of capturing video…a camera that can capture 4K images and videos.  Storage space in a cloud.  The ability to share these videos with friends.

I will definitely say that I lived in a great era of technology where each year offered radical advancements in technology.  Nowadays a new iPhone just offers…a better camera?  Is that it?  What else is there to write home about?  This reminds me of how I was trying to convince Vero to buy a new Mac Mini the other day and she asked “So what can it do that our existing one can’t?” and I really couldn’t answer her other than ‘it can do things faster’.  Even technology in the past decade hasn’t been inspiring.

Until the virtual reality revolution occurs, I’ll be enjoying looking back at all those 640×480 video snippets.

One of the first videos taken with my camera.  It’s great to hear Matt struggle with the fact that you can’t zoom while the video was recording.  You can even hear him clicking the zoom button back and forth.


Review: That 90’s Show

Does 'That '90s Show' Address Danny Masterson's Absence?

With any nostalgic show making a reboot, you never if it’s going to be great (Cobra Kai) or a dud (90210).

I’m happy to say that Vero and I loved That 90s Show.  We blazed through the 10 episode series over the weekend.Great cameos in the pilot episode but the new cast is really great and the writing is sharp and had us laughing out loud quite a bit.  How Fez showed up was amazing.

If you want to see the old characters, go rewatch That 70s Show.  But for now, give me more 90s show!


Review: Les Cowboys Fringants at Salle Odysee

Saturday night I headed into Gatineau to Salle Odysee to see Les Cowboys Fringants.  I haven’t seen them since their release of Les Antipodes which I love and I also missed them last summer when they had to cancel a few tour dates.

The singer Karl Tremblay started treatments for cancer last year and they had to adjust their touring schedule around that.  Completely understandable but I fell victim to one of the cancelled tour dates down on the Gaspe coast last year.  I was disappointed considering I just missed my chance to see them in Aylmer the week before but decided not to go since I knew I would see them later that summer.  Remember folks, always go to concerts when you can because you never know if it will be your last!

Anyhow, I kept my eye open for tickets for their sold out show and the day before I spotted a handful of tickets available and I nabbed a seat in the front row of the balcony.  What a great spot to watch a show as long as you don’t want to stand up.  I stood up once or twice and felt a little vertigo being so close to the edge!

Found this photo on Facebook

Les Cowboys Fringants are a fabulous live act.  The moment they entered the stage 90% of the room erupted from their seats and clapped along to every song the entire night.

I too, was one of those people either clapping my hands or hitting my knee.  Let me tell you, I was pretty impressed by the power of music making my heart beat fast!

Actually, let’s digress for a minute.  Take a look at this heart rate graph for a moment.

Earlier in the day I went snowshoeing in the woods with the kids. A minor blip in terms of elevating my heart rate.

But sitting down for a Cowboys Fringants concert just clapping along and hitting my knee?  Look at the workout!  20 minutes of cardio?!  I don’t know how to interpret these results.  I’m either in really great shape and I’ve realized that sitting down and clapping along to music is a valid form of exercise, or I’m in terrible shape and just clapping is a chore for my heart!  But at the same time I have a resting heart rate of 57 bpm which seems pretty great.  I told Vero I’m going to start to just watch concert videos at home and clap along as my exercise routine!

Anyhow, back to the show, the crowd was on fire.  The band was on fire.  The entire night was on fire.  The band brought in a few extra touring members (trumpet, piano, electric guitar) which was a welcome addition.  I never realized how much trumpet this band has in their songs until I saw this musician on the trumpet most of the night!

Marie-Annick Lepine is the star of the show musically.  She has a table set up next to her with her accordion, violin and mandolin.  Plus there’s a keyboard set up right next to the table.  She will be starting a song on accordion and switch to the violin mid song.  It’s a juggling act and pretty amazing to watch.

Jerome Dupras is always fun on the bass but from my vantage point I realized that he’s a great hype man!  He’s getting the crowd to clap along, he’s walking into the crowd with his microphone and having people sing along.  He’s throwing kazoos into the crowd (well, every member was doing that at one point.  The guy next to me caught one all the way up in the balcony!).  Jerome is fabulous to get the crowd going.

Jean-Francois Pauze, from what I know is the prominent songwriter of the band and he’s typically strumming the acoustic guitar but you see him pick up the electric or bass guitar when it’s needed.

Then there is Karl who is always a charismatic presence on stage.  Between Jean-Francois and him, there is usually some good banter.  Actually, the entire band always has some good banter going on and it’s really a relaxed affair when someone can mention Roch Voisine and then someone starts strumming a few chords to Helene and the whole band picks up on it and plays the song.

They are great musicians and a great time to watch.  I thoroughly enjoyed my night out seeing them and hope to see them soon on their tour.  Being from Repentigny, they come here quite often but their tickets sell out fast.  Go see them!

Recording notes for reference in the future

So this time around, I found out that they offered FM transmitters and headphones as a listening experience.  INTERESTING!  Could I potentially record a soundboard signal from this transmitter and add it to an audience recording from my iphone to create a matrix recording?

Picking up the FM transmitter was easy.  I just had to leave my health card at the ticket booth and walked away with this small device.

I had two phones on me to record the show.  One would sit in my shirt pocket which I’ve done a dozen times in the past year and it’s worked out well.

The second phone plugged directly into the FM transmitter using a stereo cable and a TRS to TRSS adapter so they phone would recognize the cable as an input (mic) and not an output (headphones).

I only had two real issues during the recording process.  1) Sitting in tight seats surrounded by folks doesn’t make for an easy recording process when I want to adjust my recording levels.  2) I didn’t really get a chance to actually listen to the FM feed when I was recording.  I could only see that when the show started the volume was REALLY low on my recording app.  It was barely registering.  So I cranked the level on the transmitter to the max (5) and it was still low so I cranked the input gain on my phone to the max as well.  It was still recording very low (-30db) which is a whisper.  No matter, I would have to adjust it in Logic.

In the end the audience recording came out great even with the cheers and the clapping but the FM recording was a bust.  So many things went wrong with it.  It was very distorted.  Maybe that was because I had the transmitter set to max?  But if I brought it down, I would have had a very weak signal.  Something to try out in the future.  Maybe it’s better to have a very weak signal than distortion.

But that wasn’t the only thing wrong with it.  It seemed to drop out of signal completely in various spots.  It also had ridiculous amounts of static.  Maybe that was because it was stuffed in my jacket pocket under my seat and couldn’t get a good signal?

There was also a constant ticking noise.  I’m not even sure how to describe what it could be.  But it was a constant drum machine keeping a beat over the entire recording.

It was a good test but I’m glad I had a backup phone to record normally or else I wouldn’t have had anything.  Maybe it’s worth trying again in the future in a different situation.  It would have been great to get a clear soundboard signal as a recording.  The holy grail for tapers!



Snowshoe to the cemetery

I have to admit that it’s been really beautiful around Ottawa this past month.  Sure, we had a couple of cold days around -20 during the week but it’s been really great to bring the kids out and do activities when it’s 5 outside.

What is this?  There are multiple of these things in the forest near the cemetery.

Vero tried to get us to go snowshoeing Saturday morning and failed miserably.  Sierra was not cooperating at all and then she had dry cracked lips which was putting her in an even worse mood.

At one point we hadn’t even made it past the neighbour’s house when we just abandoned our plans to go snowshoeing and we decided to turn around and go to the park.  But Sierra didn’t want to pull the sled that I gave her and that’s the point where my patience wears thin and I get into a standoff with my kids.  Vero took Ezra to the park to go sliding and Sierra stayed in the driveway whining while I shovelled a bit.  Hey, if a kid doesn’t want to drag a sled behind them to go sliding, no hair off of my back!

So, snowshoeing in the morning was a bust.  Everyone was in a bad mood, Ezra proceeded to hit Sierra in the head for the fourth time that day and I lost it on him.  Dragging him home and sending him to his room should have been a lesson for him but I’m not sure he absorbs what he does wrong.  Ah well.

The afternoon came and we decided to try it out again.  Luckily the kids were more agreeable and I put them in the car and we parked at the church down the road so our walk to the cemetery wouldn’t be too long.

It was a beautiful sunny afternoon and we had fun making our own trails through the forest off the beaten track.


It’s always exciting when the train passes by when we are walking in the trails!

I always like it when we reach the cemetery and the sun is shining

Having a snack

The day may have started out pretty rough but the afternoon worked out quite nice and we all had a great time enjoying the winter.


Dune Imperium

My plan for January was to focus on learning an entirely new musical instrument…a synthesizer.

But it’s on backorder until February so I was trying to figure out what else to to occupy my time.

Enter: board games!  Specifically, I wanted to try some board games that I could play solo which is a new concept to me.

Monday a giant box arrived from 401 Games and I cracked it open to find some monstrous sized boxes.  The first I tried was Dune Imperium which is highly rated for its solo game playing ability.

It’s wild how time flies when you’re having fun or learning a game for the first time.  After watching a few videos and reading the manual a few times I managed to squeeze in two rounds and said “I’ll take a break” and found it to be already 10:30pm!  I’m sure it will move faster in the future.

So far I am enjoying the game.  You can read actual reviews online about it from seasoned veterans.  But for now, I enjoy the mechanics of it and I (of course) love that it’s in the Dune universe which is a favourite of mine.

Playing solo is fun as you don’t have other players hounding you to ‘move along already”!


Pretty winter weekend

First off, let’s start out with some photos of Ezra.  Typically he closes his eyes when he smiles for a photo.  I asked him not to and we had a good laugh at the results.  Also, I love how we have a memory of Ezra’s love of putting shirts either inside out or backwards.  He is currently wearing a firetruck shirt inside out and I keep saying “I want to see the firetruck.” and he replies “But I like it next to my belly!”

The past few weeks in Ottawa were miserable in the sense that we had freezing rain and then it was a little tough navigating streets and having a fun time outside.  Even the sledding hill in the front yard was caked in ice which made it very hard.

But then Thursday dumped 20cm (if not more?  I had to snowblow the driveway twice that day) which took the ice away and left us with the winter wonderland we always hope for.

Saturday was pretty cold so I stayed inside and cleaned a bit and made a warm lunch for the family while they enjoyed some sledding outside in the yard.  But it was -20 so that didn’t last long.

Later in the afternoon after Ezra and I had a nap, we ventured outside to try out our snowshoes around the yard.  Ezra was quite good in his bigfoot type snowshoes!  Pretty stable overall.

Do you want me to do a smiley face or a silly face Daddy?

For a few weeks Sierra had a loose tooth and she would put the drain stopper down in the sink in fear of losing her tooth.  Sure enough after brushing her teeth she spit and out came her tooth!  I believe this is her third tooth she lost and the tooth fairy brought her three coins.

Ezra is really enjoying this fish game and he’s getting pretty good at it!

On Sunday morning Vero decided to go snowboarding on her own at Mont Rigaud so we decided to try out our snowshoes at the Larose Forest.  Again, it was -20 out so I knew we wouldn’t stay long but it’s nice to hop in the car and go outside for a bit.

We didn’t make it too long along the trail before Sierra wanted to trek through the woods and blaze her own trail.  Ezra wasn’t having too much fun tripping as you can see by his facial expression here.

We didn’t make it too far away from the parking lot before the kids were getting cold and wanted to head back.  Luckily I had some hot chocolate on hand so we sat on a snowbank and enjoyed that.  Poor Ezra burnt his tongue on the first sip so we learned how to cool our drinks in the snowbank.  Sierra was surprised at how fast hot chocolate becomes cold chocolate when in the snow.

Winter in Ottawa is a hit and miss sometimes…you never know when next week will bring tropical temperatures and take away all the snow so we like venturing out fast to have fun in the snow before it’s gone.


Let there be rock!

Ezra: “What is Pearl Jam?” (Ezra always mixes up who and what)

Me: “A great rock band.  I will put on a song for you.  It’s called Even Flow.”

Ezra starts stomping his foot liking the music.

Ezra: “Dad! This song is great but you know what we need to make it more rocking?  We need, we need…”

Me: (in my head) “a guitar?”

Ezra: “My flute!”