What I did on my pre-summer vacation

Well, I’m back.  Here is a brief summary of some of the stuff I did during my eight days off:

1.  Babysit tradesmen.
If you have any experience as a non-commissioned officer in any branch of the armed forces, then you will know what this is like.  Human beings are naturally lazy, whatever their occupation.  If they can get away with doing the bare minimum, or cutting corners, they will.  Case in point: plumbers install new tub on Monday, but tub is not level.  The following day, the tilers install new moisture barrier drywall and tile.  When they discover the tub is not level, do they refrain from executing the tile job until the tub is levelled?  No.  All tiles are installed (but not yet grouted).  The spacing between the bottom row of tiles and the tub grows from 1/8" at the front to a full inch high at the back.  The tiles are well-placed and level.  The tub is clearly not.  The tiles are supposed to overlap the tub flange, but at the back, where the spacing is 1-inch-plus, there is no overlap.  Yet no one says anything until I inspect the work afterward, send around emails with photos, and then everyone’s all apologetic.

End result: two more wasted days for tilers to de-install bottom row of tiles, plumber to level the tub properly this time, and tilers to return, install new tiles, and grout entire tiled area.  Disaster averted but I hate wasting time in this fashion.  Four days for what should have been a two-day job.  Maybe I’m naïve but it seems like a giant waste of time to go and validate the work of each contractor.  Imagine if you had to remain at the garage with your mechanic, looking over his shoulder while he worked on your transmission.  Or inspect each farm that supplies your grocery store with food.

Keep in mind I know nothing about plumbing or tiling.  Anything I have ever learned on the subject I got from watching Holmes on Homes, and I’m surprised that I even remembered the relevant bits about tubs and tiling; I never thought it would actually be useful.  Mike Holmes always tells you to check out contractors and get referrals and so on, but that is basically pointless.  Here is why: you may do your due diligence background on a specific company, but the company subcontracts the work to individual tradesmen of varying skill and integrity. The company or primary contractor they work for may be highly touted; the actual workers may not be.  They might get fired from a dozen companies until they end up working for the one you hired, and you don’t really know how good they are until they are on-scene and you’re double-checking their work.

Anyway I mention all this not to bitch about tradesmen, but primarily because I am bitter about burning 4 days of an 8-day vacation on what should have been a 2-day task.  I take a day off here or there, but never a full week.  Last time I took a full week off was probably two or three years ago.  So when I book a week off and I have to spend precious seconds (let alone days) of it doing non-leisure activities, I feel that time slipping away, irrevocably.  Dr. Tolian Soren in Star Trek: Generations summed it up best when he said:

"They say time is the fire in which we burn. Right now, Captain, my time is running out. We leave so many things unfinished in our lives.  I know you understand."

Exactly.  I only have so much time to waste, and I’d rather be wasting it on fun stuff.  Of course, Captain Picard later responded with this:

"Someone once told me that time was a predator that stalked us all our lives, but I rather believe that time is a companion who goes with us on the journey and reminds us to cherish every moment because they’ll never come again. What we leave behind is not as important as how we’ve lived. After all, Number One, we’re only mortal."

Don’t listen to him though, he’s full of shit.  Time is a predator, and every second you spend flying that desk is time you’re not spending with friends, family, or the baseball channels.  How you’ve lived is important, yes, but time is not your pal.  Time is the frickin’ enemy, to be smashed with a mallet whenever and wherever possible.  If you are a Christian, you will know that every human soul is eternal—but your ability to go canoeing, watch Bollywood movies, and ski down majestic mountain slopes is not.  That time is strictly limited.

2.  Logged zero hours on the Wii.  Not sure how that happened exactly, but my secret shame is that I am a dilettante when it comes to console gaming.  I will mess with the console for a couple weeks and then forget it exists for a few months.  Then play it some more for a couple weeks and again ignore it for a couple of months.  This is why I don’t buy all of the gaming systems available, because I know I will just ignore them after a while.  It has nothing to do with the quality of games either, because I do the same thing with computer games.  I aim to buy the system I will ignore the least, given that it will get ignored for say, 6 months of the year.

3.  Drank zero bottles of scotch. Not sure how this happened, either.  A complete and regrettable oversight.

4.  Went to the zoo, took pictures.  I had set out with the intention of finding and photographing a lot of the zoo’s cute new babies.  Unfortunately, animal babies grow up quickly, in the space of a couple of months.  If they were born last spring or fall then they are already non-cute junior versions of their adult parents.  Learned my lesson there.  Next time I hear of a cute animal baby being born I am grabbing the camera, pushing seniors and expecting mothers out of the way, and hightailing it to the Rouge Valley.

That said it was still pretty interesting, and a good opportunity to test my skills with the "new" camera and lens.  I will share the pictures here in a gallery when I get them organised properly.  I also inadvertently discovered that the best time to visit the zoo is during a weekday, before the start of summer vacation.  There are a lot fewer kids running around and banging on the plexiglass, harassing the animals.  Still, it amazes me that there are parents that let their offspring get away with behaving like a barbarian in public.  My mom would have flayed me alive for disgracing the family like that.

One of the most interesting and hilarious events involved member of the porcine family, and I will post more details when I get the gallery up.  But let’s just say that prior to this event I didn’t quite fathom why Jews and Muslims regarded pigs as unclean, and now it’s a whole lot clearer.  Also, elephants aren’t kosher either.

UPDATE: Oh, I nearly forgot…

5.  Read a lot of spam from Obama supporters.  Somehow my e-mail address has been added to a billion mailing lists for the Texas Coalition of Black Democrats.  No, I’m not kidding, such a thing exists.  They have been kind enough to send me all manner of instructions for delegate accreditation, hotel booking and convention strategy, but of course I am not a Texan, a Democrat, black, or American.  So my chances of voting for Obama, McCain or the dusty bones of Dwight D. Eisenhower are exactly nil.

I can’t unsubscribe from this list because it’s not something that has a subscriber-bot attached.  It is all painstakingly hand-typed by dedicated Obama supporters in the great state of Texas.  If you have any clever suggestions on how I can turn this mild annoyance into something with serious entertainment value, please post your suggestions in the comments.


Category: Diversions, Miscellania
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3 Responses
  1. The Mayor says:

    You’ll have a better time in two years when you have another week off. Just think, that’s only about 730 days away!
    However, the 2008 Blogging Party at The Manor approaches quickly. I hope you and Wanda will be there.

  2. Chris Taylor says:

    Frickin’ smartass. =)
    That sounds like a good time, though. How many portages do I have to haul the canoe through to get there?

  3. The Mayor says:

    If you can hop the fence that the good citizens of Ontario are erecting around Toronto, you are barely an hour away from Mitchieville.
    It would take a hybrid slightly longer (lots of hills in Mitchieville)