How to unclog a sink (and keep your pants)

One of the many joys of homeownership is the clogged kitchen sink. This is not my first clogged kitchen sink, [[Visit to Ontario, Clogged up Kitchen Sink Drain|having worked through such an experience with my father a number of years ago]].
I should point out that the event did not make me an expert, just made me aware of what not to do.
First thing not to do: pour sulphuric acid down the pipes, and hope that it somehow dissolves the gunk that’s down there. Even moreso: not to blow into the pipe in hopes of forcing it down, only to have it come back up to splash on your pants and dissolve the fabric while you’re still in them.
Still, about two litres of Draino didn’t help. It poured in, but the drain didn’t really unclog. Finally, desperate measures were needed. Not a plumber — a snake.
The snake is a long metal … um … well … thing. If you’ve seen one, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, then I suggest a short trip to your nearest rental store to ask about one. It’s about the easiest thing I can think of.
The snake was a 25 footer, which I hoped would be enough to find it’s way to the clog. I figured that the clog had to be at the drain stack, where the drain would ultimately head vertically into the sewer.
A note about using a snake: Use gloves. Preferably ones you don’t care about. Because those snakes have been everywhere and they are disgusting. My hands were turned a greasy brown. I chose to believe it was actually grease, and not something else that you normally find down a drain. (At least it didn’t smell.)
With a bit of help from Alex, we managed to get the sucker down the drain, find the clog, and poke a hole in its formerly impenetrable defenses to allow the drain to … well, drain.
And I still have my pants!

Cirque du Soliel's Delirium

Way back in August, Alex and I celebrated our paper anniversary, the first. We’d celebrated by going to Banff and spending the night at the Banff Springs hotel, having a wonderful dinner (note: chocolate fondue is wonderful, but uncomfortably filling), and attending the Mozart on the Mountain concert in Canmore.
As part of our paper anniversary, I gave Alex tickets (paper) to the next Cirque du Soliel show, called Delirium.
We’ve seen Cirque before in Calgary, earlier when we were dating (see [[Stampede Breakfast, Topmade Barbecue, and Quidam]]). I’ve also seen Cirque in Vegas (see [[Road Trip of the Southwest United States, Touring Las Vegas and Cirque du Soleil Mystére]]) and a couple of other minor times (and off-shoot troupes) in and around Ontario. In short, there was no reason not to get good tickets the moment they went on sale.
The kicker was that Alex knew that Cirque was coming, and kept bugging me to get tickets. I stalled repeatedly and played stupid (I do it rather well, admittedly; comes from being naturally idiotic) and managed to keep her unaware that the tickets were, in fact, already purchased. So when the time came, it was a wonderful little surprise.
We had good seats. Not floor, but really darn close. Close enough that we could almost hear people on the stage (I thought I could, but given the clarity of the sound system it was sometimes hard to tell).
It was a weird show, unlike any previous Cirque show I’ve seen. This could largely be due to Franco Dragoni having left to do his own thing, and his protégés having taken over. The stage was long and thin, with “backstages” on either end. The entire stage couldn’t have been more than about six metres wide. Each side could be “draped” with a long curtain, which was translucent. You could see through the curtains to the other side. This gave a more ethereal look and allowed for projection onto the stage environment.
The show was far more musical than previous shows, and made even less sense than Cirque shows usually make. (Yes, it’s about the power of dream and imagination, a common theme, but I was still scratching my head to make out some sort of overall plot device.)
The first act was a solo singer who performed with members of the Cirque troupe. It’s hard to pin down the style (other than being Cirque-like) using Gaelic and Arabic lyrics, by the sounds of it. Active, invigorating, and sold us on a CD during the intermission.
The main show started shortly thereafter. Lots of acrobatics, drums, strange instruments, people hanging from the rafters and a weirdo on stilts (again, typically Cirque). The neat thing was all the video that is shown on the screens that drift across the stagefront every so often.
But no clowns.
Overall, totally worth the price of admission. I love Cirque du Soliel. They’re always worth watching, even if it’s not one of their big, extravagant Vegas shows.
Hmm. Which reminds me. I do need to revisit Vegas sometime to catch the other shows I haven’t seen…

Shrinking the world through video conferencing

I’ve used video conferencing before. It was a novelty. Nothing fancy. There, but didn’t think much of it.
Until today.
Critical Mass recently got a Polycom video conferencing unit in the Calgary office. (There are matching units in Chicago and Toronto.) We’ve started using it with my current client for the weekly status meetings.
The client is in Geneva. The video conference makes them seem like they’re in the same room.
It’s trippy. It’s not the best quality and the lag is a little weird, but you get to see everything. Every facial movement (well, that the resolution lets you see, anyway), the mannerisms, everything. And because you can see yourself, it’s also makes you very self-conscious. Also trippy.
Our client is eight time zones and over 12 hours of flying away. And our one hour of overlap a day keeps us somehow connected over a simple IP-based video connection.
Technology really does make a difference at times.

Thanksgiving in Ruskin

I had a quick jaunt out to Ruskin (a section of Maple Ridge, BC) for the Thanksgiving weekend. It was a trip I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to take at first. Reason: Too much work, and too tight deadlines to allow it.
Deadlines changed. Whether they changed for the better remains to be seen…
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