Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Washing Machine Blues

I was over at my sister's place last week. Her washing machine was acting up. It did everything normally but the spin cycle at the end (to get rid of the excess water before taking the clothes out).

She tried looking up solutions on the internet. She believed her washing machine/dryer was only 4-6 years old, but couldn't find anything on it (even from the G.E. site which is the brand she has). Eventually she decided to call a repairman which she found from the local free newspaper.

He came one evening with his young assistant and they looked at the machine for 20-30 minutes. They had to take the stackable dryer off from on top to access the washer below. We stuck it in my younger nephew's room.

After a little while he told us that they had to replace the control board (or something like that). It was supposed to run between $300-$400. He would get back to us confirming the price once he found the part.

My sister was a little bit suspicious because she thought he didn't take very long and didn't do all the tests she thought he might do. So after he left we did more digging on the internet to see what we could find.

There was one thing that we thought we might try - checking the filter to see if it was plugged (it filters the water before it drain out to the sewer). Supposedly if it's plugged and you unplug it it solves some of the problems similar to what we had.

We managed to open the bottom panel on the front of the machine by unscrewing a couple of small screws. When we did we found an instruction manual inside that was supposed to be only for repairmen. We don't know if the repair guy left it there or if it was put there by the manufacturer. In any case we decided to give it a once over.

It told us how to run the diagnostic tests for the washer. So we gave it a shot. Eventually the error code 43 came up - Replace the control board... just like the repairman said.

Still we looked for the filter to see if was plugged. Newer models have a panel in the front that you can pop open with relative ease to access the filter and clean out any gunk that might be stuck in there. Unfortunately my sister's model was different. And not in a good way.

To access the filter you had to unscrew a couple of screws and pull a rubber covering off. I don't think it's meant to be accessed for some strange reason. Instead unscrewing too many things I only undid one screw and tried to dig my fingers in to see if I could fish anything out.

It was very slimy and disgusting as I was feeling my away around blindly. I couldn't see anything because the gap I squeezed my fingers through was too small. I was just going by touch and it was not pleasant.

I did manage to find a half ground up sock. I guess it's true... washing machines do eat socks. There was also miscellaneous goop like hair and other bits of things that we dug out.

In the end it didn't make a difference. The spin cycle still didn't work (even though we got it to run in the diagnostic test).

My sister told me the following day (or two) the repairman returned with the control board and put it in. No luck... the spin cycle still didn't run. Who knows where we go from here.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Sunday Afternoon Downtown

After church and after lunch last Sunday I went for a walk downtown with my friend Kerry. It was a bit overcast out, but that was fine. I brought my camera because I thought I'd like to do some shooting for fun.

Our first stop was Toronto City Hall. I went to check on Richard, but I didn't see him. I haven't seen him very often especially since they started the renovations around Nathan Philips Square. I hope he's doing alright. There's all sorts of construction work around the spot he usually stays at in his wheelchair.

After spending a bit of time at City Hall we walked over to the Eaton Centre. I heard on 680 News they were going to show the closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympics in London there. We found a spot in front of one of the TV sets they had set up in the food court and watched it there.

Though after returning home and watching the news I don't think that was the spot where they had the big showing. Our set was small and had no sound. It looked like they had something set up elsewhere in the mall and were giving out free cupcakes and other things to the people who gathered to watch.

It was getting a bit late by the time the closing ceremony ended. I went up to street level at Yonge Dundas Square and hung out just a little while longer with Kerry before walking back home.

I got a few good shots while I was out. Including the funny one above of Spiderman posing with people. If you gave him some spare change he would hold you and let your friend(s) take a picture. You see all sorts of interesting characters around the city in the summer.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Walk at Edwards Gardens

After lunch (and coffee at McDonalds) I parted ways with my friends and went over to Edwards Gardens to take some pictures. I hadn't gone there in a while and wanted to take a few shots.

Unfortunately the weather wasn't that great. It was overcast with spotty showers. Every now and then I had to scoot back to my car until the rain stopped and I could get back out.

The cloud cover actually wasn't that bad. It toned down what would have otherwise been a harsh sun. Not that shooting in direct sunlight isn't good either. It's just different.

I spent a couple of hours in the park. Part of it chasing a Monarch butterfly with beat up wings around (mostly unsuccessfully). Part of it trying to photograph a cute bunny rabbit who was munching on grass (again, mostly unsuccessfully). But, mostly, I was shooting the wide variety of flowers they had there.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Lunch at Jerusalem Restaurant

I met up with my friends for lunch on Saturday. We went to Jerusalem Restaurant on Leslie north of Sheppard. It was my second time there. My friend, Gabe, suggested it the first time. This time it was my decision.

Jerusalem Restaurant serves Middle Eastern food buffet style. It's really good. At certain times they even have a belly dancer performing. Though, this time, there wasn't one.

That was fine. We had a great lunch and engrossing conversation. It was nice to just hang out and eat and talk and sit and relax. Other customers came and went, in and out. We were in no rush.

After lunch we headed over to McDonalds to grab a free coffee. They had a one week promotion at the time.

While there we saw the Men's 4x100 metre relay finals. The Jamaicans with Usain Bolt were the overwhelming favorites with the U.S. men following a strong second. Third place was up for grabs though. The Canadians were entered, but being ranked 11th in the world at the time I didn't think we stood a chance.

It was a close race between the Americans and Jamaicans until the final runners. Usain Bolt was the Jamaican anchor. He pulled away from the American runner and won in world record time. Another incredible performance. Could you expect anything else?

Surprisingly, the Canadians came in third. It was all very exciting for everyone watching at McDonalds. We were all so proud of them.

They were very happy too hugging each other and running around the track carrying Canadian flags.

But, then something happened. We (the people watching in McDonalds) saw the Canadian sprinters fall to their knees at the stadium. Tears were coming from their eyes. There was no sound from the television so we couldn't hear what the commentators were saying.

After watching a few replays we figured it out. The Canadian team was disqualified because one of the team member's feet touched the line while running round the track. An innocent, but costly mistake. There was no mercy from the officials.

The bronze medal we would have won (should have won) would have been our 19th of the London games besting our total of 18 from Beijing in 2008. Instead we tied.

I guess that sums up the games regarding the Canadian team. There were some unexpected triumphs as well as unfulfilled potential. Both overwhelming joy and disappointing heartbreak.

It sounds like the story of life. And for seventeen days it helped most of the world escape theirs as they lived vicariously through the athletes that represented their nations.

Note: Lunch price ranges from $12.95 to $20.95 at Jerusalem Restaurant. Dinner is from $19.95 to $27.95.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


As most of you know I have a little something called Olympic Fever. It's not serious, but every now and then I need to get my fix.

Today's must see event was the Men's 200 metre race. It featured the world's fastest man, Usain Bolt, of Jamaica and two of his fellow compatriots. After the 100 metre race, which Bolt won in an Olympic best time of 9.63 seconds, this was the next most anticipated one.

It was slated to begin at 3:55 p.m. Eastern Time. 680 News (680 AM) said they'd air it live on the radio as it happened. Since I would be on the road working, it would be the next best thing to seeing it.

Throughout the day I made my deliveries watching the clock as it counted down closer and closer to start time.

At around 3:50 I arrived at the back of Golden Court Chinese restaurant on Highway 7. Only five minutes to go until the race. I asked myself if I should sit in the van and wait or run in and make a quick drop off. Normally it would only take three or four minutes tops for me to pop in and out of this particular place.

I decided I would go in.

The lady I usually deal with was nowhere to be found. Instead I found the cashier. I told her there was one and 1/3 box of wet towels left and she agreed that I should bring another box in.

When I came back from the van with the new box she had the money all ready to give to me. That was good. It made things faster. She gave me the cash and I gave her a copy of the receipt from my book.

I put the new box beside the full one that I brought last week and took the small bag of wet towels out of the other box and put it up on top of the cupboard beside the other two boxes.

As for the empty box? I brought outside where I saw a large recycling bin. You know... the ones the size of a big dumpster.

Now I can't remember exactly what happened next... I believe I had the money and my receipt book in my left hand and the empty box in the other. From the top step (fourth or fifth step of the metal stairs leading into the back of the restaurant) I tossed the box into the bin. As I did I inadvertently bumped my left hand. Something fell into the recycling bin.

I checked my left hand. The cash was still there. Thankfully. But, the receipt book was gone. I had to get it.

I looked over the edge of the bin. The box was on top, but the book wasn't. Why, oh why, wasn't it on top? No, it had to fall down a slim crack to the bottom of the wet bin (it had been raining all day). I had no choice but to jump in and dig. Thankfully this was the cardboard recycling bin, not the garbage bin on the other side of the steps. I seriously don't know if I could have waded through that filth.

A few minutes later I found the book. A little damp, a little dirty, but fine nevertheless. I had to move a bunch of stuff around inside the bin (yuck) so I could get down to the very bottom, but I eventually found it.

When I got back to the van and turned on the radio I was just in time to hear the announcer say that Usain Bolt had made history becoming the first person to defend both the 100 and 200 metre titles he won in the previous games. Greeeaaat.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Olympics - Day 8

Day 8 was pretty special for Canada at the 2012 Olympics in London. Understand that we're a relatively small country. Winning a medal of any kind is great for us. So when we won three on Saturday it was a wonderful accomplishment.

Up until that day we had only won seven medals (2 silver and 5 bronze) in total. That all changed when 23-year-old, Rosie MacLennan, of Toronto won gold in Trampoline. She beat her main rivals from China Shanshan Huang (silver) and He Wenna (bronze). Unfortunately they bumped fellow Canadian Karen Cockburn to fourth.

In the pool Ryan Cochrane edged out Tunisian swimmer Oussama Mellouli for silver in the Men's 1500-metre Freestyle. China's Sun Yang won the event going away setting a new world record at 14:31.02.

Finally the trio of Gillian Carleton, Jasmin Glaesser and Tara Whitten won bronze on the track in the Women's Team Pursuit. They edged out a game Australian team over the 12-lap (3000-metre) race by less than two-tenths of a second. Thrilling.

Sadly it wasn't all happy news for Canadian Olympic fans. We saw a tearful Paula Findlay struggle through injury to finish last (52nd place) in the Women's Triathlon. An emotional, Findlay, apologized to Canadians for letting us down.

What she didn't realize is she has nothing to apologize for. She's a hero to many of us epitomizing the Olympic spirit of perseverance and class by never giving up no matter how badly she felt. She made me, for one, proud to be a Canadian with her gutsy performance. That's as important as any medal as far as I'm concerned.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Niagara Falls with Tony and Iris

... and Iris' mother.

Iris' mum was visiting from Korea. She arrived over a month ago I believe. Since they don't have a car I drove them to Niagara Falls this past Sunday.

They decided to start at Canada One outlet mall on Lundy's Lane. They had gone once before when Iris' parents visited last year. Tony couldn't remember exactly where it was so I stopped to ask strangers on the street for directions. I suppose I'm not like typical guys that way (I'll ask directions). I'm too impatient to drive around aimlessly.

The main attraction for Iris and her mother (and, perhaps, most women who shop at the mall) was the Coach outlet store. In fact it's the only store with crowd control stanchions (ropes). They're the only store where people actually have to wait in line to get in. Well, at the women's location anyway. They also have a men's store (no line there).

Tony and I ate our Vietnamese sandwiches while we waited. Then we headed to a few shoe stores because my running shoes were a bit worn. The deals weren't as good as in the U.S. though, so I didn't buy anything.

Afterwards we headed over to the Falls. I dropped Tony, Iris and her mum by the Falls and went to look for free parking. Tony offered to pay for parking, but I didn't want him to waste the money.

It took me a bit of time, but I accidently came upon the free lot we used a few years ago. It's on Portage Road a bit south of Fallsview Casino Resort. It's about 5-10 minutes walk away from the back entrance where the casino buses drop passengers off.

After I parked I walked down to the Falls to snap a few quick pictures. I actually didn't have much time before I was supposed to meet them at the designated spot near the police station on Niagara Parkway/River Road.

I met Tony there at 5:30. Iris and her mom were still out sightseeing. Instead of having them walk back to the car I arranged to meet them at the Fallsview Casino Resort parking circle at the main entrance. It was really hot and humid out. I didn't think it would be good to make Iris' mum walk any more than necessary.

Iris wanted to eat at Burger King because she had some coupons. Instead of eating in Niagara Falls I thought we should head back along the QEW and stop somewhere along the way when we encountered traffic. The drive was relatively smooth though. So we pulled over in Hamilton and ate at the BK on Centennial Parkway near the Kings Buffet where I drop off the wet towels.

After dinner we hopped back on the highway and I drove them back to their place.