Cube Incorporated Logo
Main Menu
Online Photo Album
Who's Who in John's Life
Read my Online Journal
Download Music I've Created or Mixed
Browse my Artistic Creations
Where the Name Came From
Return to the Main Page
We'll be in touch...
Sign The Guestbook Read the Guestbook
Journal Entries for March 2008
March 2, 2008 - 10:18 PM
A napkin from Azteka Mexican Restaurant, where we ate supper tonight

John and Scott at Azteka Mexican Restaurant, Seattle Washington

Greg and Eldin at Azteka Mexican Restaurant, Seattle Washington

Greetings from Seattle! Our early morning flight landed us in this beautiful city bright and early at the crack of eight thirty, and the first part of our morning was filled with a number of crucial activities: Namely, finding our hotel, and finding somewhere to eat breakfast. As it would turn out, both were quite easy to find, and in fact walking distance apart. Greg, Eldin, and I all arrived here this morning, while Scott joined us about 6:00 this evening from Edmonton via Vancouver. Now we just need one more body, that beloning to Adam from Calgary who is apparently flying in tomorrow and we'll have the makings for our first week of Lenel training! Woo hoo!

I was all prepared to leave the house for two weeks [unattended], until about 8:00 or so Saturday night when my cousin Christy phoned to ask if it was still ok for her boyfriend Tyler, who was to visit from LA, to stay at my place [this coming week.] Although she had asked about this some time earlier, through some miscommunication I mistakenly thought this was to take place several weeks down the road. (In the back of my mind I thought it was during the summer for some reason.) Anyway, it worked out well. I knew that I might very well sleep through an alarm clock rattling off early on Sunday morning, and not wanting to miss my flight (and therefore this training trip,) combined with the prospect of somebody living in my basement for a week in my absense provided excellent motivation for me to stay up all night and clean, pack, and prepare. Consequently, my house has probably never looked so clean since the time I first moved in, and I'm quite happy to let Tyler make use of it, especially after we crashed at his place last summer when Blair, Christy, Mark, and myself all did our road trip to Las Vegas / LA.

So what am I doing in Seattle for the next two weeks? Well, Convergint has sent a number of technicians here to participate in proprietary training classes on Lenel access control systems. Lenel is one of the leading access control manufacturers, and their products are widely used amongst the largest security installations in North America. Every major site that I've been on (and even a good number of the lesser ones) use their products to control their card access. What is card access? Well, many people who work in offices or buildings where there is [some] sort of electronic security to control who comes in and goes out will be familiar with card access. Basically, at any door that leads the way into a secured area, there will be a small device beside it, usually with a red light, to which a visitor must present a card or FOB that it scans and compares to cards known to the system. If your card is found and you have access to this particular door at this time of day on this day of the week, the access control system will send power to an electronic unlocking mechanism and you will be able to open the door. Card access devices are also used on other types of controlled access systmes, such as in elevators and to enable or disable certain types of machinery. Over the next two weeks, this is what we will be studying in depth, and each week comes with a certificate of accomplishment once the required material has been learned and demonstrated.

The plane we flew down here on this morning had to be one of the smallest aircract I have ever been on. Seating a mere 50 passengers, both Eldin and I had seats in the very back of the airplane. There was only one stewardess on board, as well as only one bathroom (which happened to be right beside me.) I've heard it said once that there are only two reasons one would want to sit at the back of a plane by the bathroom: Either because you have diherea, or you're anxious to meet people who do.

Our hotel rooms are huge, well - at least to accomodate one person. I've got a KING SIZED BED! It's fantastic! I don't think I could even fit a king sized bed in my room at home... If so I would never need to worry about rolling off the bed! There's not much of a view from where we are, but we've got plans to hit several of the city's sites this week, including the Space Needle, Jimi Hendrix's grave, and the very first Starbuck's down by the piers. This morning we popped into some big shopping mall, but I have to say it was rather disappointing for four guys... The mall definitely catered to the opposite gender's shopping tastes, and even after searching the directory we were hard pressed to find a single store we'd like to hit. (Although there was a Lego store I might go back to later and see if I can find some things for Blair.) We wound up leaving and wandering through two much more manly stores, Best Buy and The Home Depot.

After being up all night last night and a good part of the morning today, it will come as no surprise to those that know me best that I slept for most of the afternoon today in recovery. However, about 7 or so the rest of the guys came a'knockin on my door because they wanted to go eat. So that we did, somebody's eye caught the sign of a Mexican restaurant on the way here so that's where we went and it was fantastic. Now back at the hotel, I grabbed the instructions for how to get to the place of our training tomorrow since nobody here had any idea where it is or how to get there. There were a couple of elements of this trip that were a little blurry but I think we've got everything sorted out now. It looks like it should be a good week! I'll keep you posted...

March 4, 2008 - 12:23 AM
Today was a long day and I'm fighting off the sandman with my other hand as I type this but I'll let the pictures speak for themselves. We had a good time today.

Is it any wonder there is an obesity problem in the States? The drink on the left is a medium, the one on the right is a small and in front, for perspective (although it really didn't help much in this picture) is a pepper shaker.

We got so lost driving around aimlessly that we finally had to stop and ask where we were. When we told the lady at the Jack In The Box where we were headed, her eyes got big and the look on her face told use we were a long way away. The manager was kind enough to write out a list of directions (which proved absolutely invaluable and returned us safely to the streets near our hotel) - but it took two pages for her to write it out we were so far away!

The lightbulb changer in me cringed when I saw this dinosaur of a ceiling, and poorly lit to boot. I took this picture for all my lightbulb changing friends. Aren't you glad you don't have to service these anymore?

Some high tech surveillance equipment in a local supermarket. Be sure to smile!

March 6, 2008 - 12:13 AM

Lenel 1000 - Day 3. Badge designer and access levels.

We whizzed through the material this afternoon and since it was such a gorgeous day, the five of us went down to Pike's Market in the hopes of watching them toss some fish.

This whole week we've been continually running into our Lenel instructors, this time finding them in Pikes Brewery. We've run into them in various restaurants as well throughout the week.

I found the magic shop I visited on my last trip to Seattle when I was in grade 9, the only real memory of that trip that has stuck with me. Very cool to come back and to find it exactly as I remembered it, inside and out!

One couldn't very well visit Seattle and not grab a coffee at the very first Starbuck's restaurant... And although a good number of people were doing the touristy thing, the girl at the till informed us they didn't recieve any special pay or compensation for working at a tourist attraction. I kind of thought there would have been some sort of bonuses or incentives considering the prestige (or at least volume of traffic...)

With a bit of help from several navigators and a map, we were able to find the Kurt Cobain bench, apparently something of a shrine to the late lead singer of Nirvana. Also passed by, though closed, was the graveyard of Jimi Hendrix. Another full day of Seattle tourism!

March 6, 2008 - 11:19 PM

Well, this week has flown by, and with it being our last night, Adam, Eldon, and I invited our LA Convergint Counterpart to go for supper with us after Greg and Scott decided to do their own thing tonight. We went to this wonderful Thai restaurant somewhere in downtown Bellevue.

After supper, we went for a drive and wound up in some other place where we happened upon a wee Irish pub. The four of us ducked in there to shoot some pool and were rather surprised by a number of things: first of all, the lack of smoke in the air. Apparently, Seattle and surrounding areas are all smoke free. It certainly didn't seem to have hurt this particular bustling business. The second thing that we noticed right away was that there were children in the pub! Wee ones, probably no more than 10 were playing pool on the table beside us. I guess most of their pubs are more like family restaurants down here. It was quite cozy actually.

Another interesting thing we noticed was this box of brightly colored crosswalk flags at either side of the main street in this particular town. Apparently you're supposed to take one of these flags to increase your visibility when crossing the busy road and then deposit it in the box on the other side. Talk about an honor system! And both boxes were full too. It really seemed like quite a different kind of life down here tonight. I'm glad we got to wander off the beaten path and see some of the countryside.

March 11, 2008 - 8:34 AM
Ok, so here's the scoop! Last Friday after class let out about 10:30 we packed up those of us who were going home and drove to Seattle where we went on an underground tour of Seattle. Actually the majority of the amusement of this particular tour came not from the areas we explored or the scenery, but from our tourguide who must have had comedian somewhere on her resume. Very entertaining while being just as educational, and we learned all about the interesting history of Seattle's development and the story of why it is the way it is today. Quite a good tour. Hour and a half long, $15 per person, definitely worth it.

Once the tour was complete, we rendevoused (Yes, I know it's spelled wrong) with Eldon who had veered off onto his own adventure, riding the Monorail and making the trip in the opposite direction of our underground tour and went to the top of the Space Needle.

After a brief journey, we dropped Scott, Eldon, and our Los Angeles counterpart Brian at the airport and Greg and I headed north to the frigid snow-covered lands of the Canucks. Now being that as a Canadian citizen it is illegal for me to drive a foreign-registered vehicle inside The Great White North, we ditched the rental SUV in a parking lot in Sumas and Kristi drove down across the border to pick us up. Greg was then met by his sister who lives in Langley on the Canadian side of the crossing, and Kristi and I journeyed back to her house in Mission accompanied by two very cute carseat occupying passengers.

And now we're back in Bellevue in the middle of week two of our Lenel training. So far this week has been horribly slow, and they labour over concepts and material that could easily be shortened without loss of coverage. *sigh* Oh well. It gives me time to update my web site. hehe

(But don't worry, I am still learning lots.)

March 12, 2008 - 12:39 AM
I'm not sure if we've spent more time on this trip in classes or in restaurants.

Adam taking a drink

Beer Bottles as seen on a poster in the men's rest room

A picture of me, blurred slightly

The beer served at The Pike is all brewed [right there in the store.]

Greg eating

Jeff and Adam

Jeff eating and looking incredibly impressed

It's a fake smile, can you tell?

Below are a couple of other pictures I took tonight of various things we saw on our way back from the brewery to where we'd parked. It was a lovely evening.

The fire escape on this particular building was particularly photogenic

Keep Out!

One of the many drinks for sale at The Pike

Someone wants to keep people out of here!

A close up of one of the blades on this particular segment of razor wire. Does that look sharp to you?

Supper at the Rock Bottom Brewery

An alley in Seattle

The Seattle Steam Company

The Seattle Steam Company? I am sure they have a great product, but how exactly would you package and/or ship it out? Not quite sure what to make of that one...

Somewhere, I believe in the room behind me, there is somebody snoring so loud I can hear them right through the wall. I can only imagine how loud that must be in their room! It sounds like trucks downshifting on the highway! Good thing I can sleep through anything! Goodnight

March 25, 2008 - 10:07 AM
Allright, if I don't start posting pictures it will never get done. Here are the last of the Seattle pictures from my training trip there last week. (Well, two weeks ago.)

Examples of spring in Seattle

One of the highlights of being in Seattle for two weeks was the fact that the city was in full on spring bloom. Trees and flowers were budding, the grass was green, signs of new life were abundant and everywhere. Examples of spring in Seattle

Rain on a Railing

More Rain on A Railing

My Feet sticking out from the railing

Due to the ambiance in this restaurant, Jeff needed to use his phone's light to read the menu

This restaurant had so much ambiance that Jeff had to use the light on his cell phone to illuminate his menu.

Adam likes his girlie drinks...

Yet another example of spring in Seattle

As the sign says...

Our 'Closed For The Season' outdoor swimming pool at the Coast Bellevue in Seattle

We had an outdoor pool at the hotel we stayed at, but it was closed for the season. Two weeks in a hotel with no pool. *sigh*

The Sign denoting my residence of the past two weeks

Think we could get another one in there?

Think we could fit one more in?

One of the Lenel instructors, Brian Tripp, training

Learning lots in Lenel training...


Wouldn't you love to have control of that hose? I'm not sure what it would dump, but I'm sure whatever it is would not have been nice. Whoever parked that truck there obviously has a lot of trust in whoever operates that hose...

Last meal together at the Seattle Airport

Our last meal together at the airport in Seattle.

At what temperature does water freeze?

When I got back home, Bo had already started firing up the hot tub. I guess there must have been some residual water in the lines though, that froze and cracked a bunch of fittings. After replacing these and testing for leaks, I began to fill the tub. That temperature reading is in Farenheit by the way... Definitely in the realms of refreshing...

Yes, that is ice in our hot tub.

Yes, that is ice floating in the hot tub.

That's about half the pictures I have taken since returning home. Appologies on the delay, it has been incredibly busy! I got bored one night and tore down the ceiling in my basement and most of the walls. (Well, didn't remove the framing, but I took off the plywood and panelling they'd used to finish the walls and found several problems underneath: The insulation was rated a whopping R7, and the wiring is atrocious!) No rest for the weary... Pictures of that to follow.

March 25, 2008 - 10:15 PM
Ok, so what exactly did I do to my basement? Here, I'll show you!

Tearing Down The Walls

Tearing Down The Walls

Tearing Down The Walls

Tearing Down The Walls

Tearing Down The Walls

Tearing Down The Walls

Tearing Down The Walls

Tearing Down The Walls

Even after the new fittings and heater were installed in the hot tub, we kept having strange problems with an error message that seemed to plague our enjoyment of it's warmth constantly. I ended up taking the entire computer right out of the hot tub for a closer inspection, to see if it had suffered any water damage, corrosion, or calcium buildup causing it to have false readings of the temperature. No such luck. In fact, the circuit board was immaculate. I couldn't find a single thing wrong with it, and it was extremely well built. Obviously care and craftsmanship went into it's construction. I've rarely seen circuit boards that well built in fact - and I see a LOT!

I removed the firmware chip to re-seat it (and to pose it in this picture) but none of my labours produced any results. The dreaded HL error returned, and any time it adorned the display, the heater would not operate because as far as the controller was concerned, the water was already too hot (hence the message, High Limit.)

Here is what the water sees as it passes along this two inch pipe and has energy applied to it in the form of heat from that green wire-like thing. That is actually the heater that is responsible for bringing the temperature of every drop of water within the spa from nearly-freezing 34 degrees the other day to a very relaxing 104 degrees tonight.

I've got the power!!

Anyway, to make a long and uninteresting story short, I thought the problem out last night as I was doing some reading and thinking in my bed, and today I tested my theory out and found it to be true and in fact the cause of our mysterious (and now disappeared) HL error message. The hot tub is back in business! (And I am feeling VERY relaxed at the moment. There is a connection, yes.)

Before I decided to dip into the renovations I did have a neat bedroom, in a new configuration or layout if you will. I quite like it too, although at the moment my bedroom is serving double-duty as a storage room for a bit of the stuff that would not fit elsewhere in the basement as I work to better my living situation by adding proper insulation to my basement walls and correct some atrocious electrical wiring.

Here is Kris, also known as Mr. Popular after a small project we were working on turned into a large project that had a good number of people calling him in the meantime.

... And just like that, after a few weeks of very spring-like weather, winter dropped back upon us with a bang. Of course, all this was gone by the end of the work day, but none the less, it was a full-on blizzard yesterday morning.

This is the squirrel that lives in the roof of my parent's garage, who I have named Chester We had a little chat and he let me take his picture this afternoon when I showed up to fix my parents' stove.

The main heating element in the bottom of their stove disintegrated a few days ago, and although it's been replaced I have since found that when it failed, it apparently also destroyed one of the two controlling relays that supply electricity to it. Unfortunately, you need both relays fully operational to make it bake things, and with only one that oven is little more than a metal box with a hinged door that tasty things do not come out of! I pulled the control board from the stove and hope to find a suitable replacement for it's failed relay soon, as replacing a $10 relay is much more economical than replacing a $250 circuit board!

That's it for the night! Thanks for reading, and thanks for your patience all ye who have been patiently awaiting an update! Goodnight

March 27, 2008 - 10:16 PM
March Sunrise

One day warm, one day blizzard. Seems to be the trend lately. Bo and I sat in the hot tub for a bit after badminton tonight but he went inside long before I did. When I finally had enough of it's relaxing water, I pulled the cover on and went to the back door, only to find it was locked. Have you ever locked a door subconsciously behind you as you passed through it? Could have been a long night of hot tubbing if he'd fallen asleep!

So I picked up my repaired motorcycle yesterday, with all the plastic replaced from when those kids tipped it over in September. Anyone want to guess at how much damage their little senseless act of destruction caused? (I guess this is why we have insurance...) $4,300!!! That's right, four thousand, three hundred dollars, including parts and labour. Is that not sick? I never did catch the kids who tipped it, even though the whole thing was caught on video. (Watch it here)

March 30, 2008 - 6:38 PM
John with a dusty toque

Well, here we are at Sunday, and with pretty much all of the wall and ceiling coverings torn off pretty much all of the basement, I have begun the process of rebuilding it all. The first task, of course, is the electrical. The more wiring that was exposed, the more it became apparant that it all needed to be replaced. Obviously a do-it-yourselfer, whoever wired this basement up did not know anything about the electrical code of Canada. There are a lot of junction boxes where junction boxes should not have been needed, aluminum wire changing into copper and back again. I think whoever wired this place used whatever scraps they could find and pieced it all together from leftovers.

John doing some 'light thinking'

I have to admit, I am having a blast ripping out all the existing wiring and lighting and designing my own wiring scheme myself. I have lots of ideas for a new lighting system, one which will allow for great flexibility and function. I've always loved indirect lighting, but there are certain instances where direct lighting is much more practical. As such, the design that is being formulated in my mind will utilize a combination of both indirect and direct lighting to achieve a very usable living space with great atmosphere.

Fake Bricks

Remember that little 'window' built into the wall in my living room? Well after removing the plywood backing to it I found this 'decoration' behind. It appears at some point it opened out to a lovely fake brick wall. Just another one of those things that you scratch your head and move on about... Anyway, back to work.

BACK to Journal Index