thing-a-day 4: civic action

OK, I had to take a detour from my “all things music” thing-a-day for a special request. A house down the street from me had a building permit posted that I didn’t read clearly until 2 days ago. Seems they wanted to split the 30′ wide lot into 2 15′ wide lots, destroy the original 2-story 120-year old building with a gorgeous historic facade, and put up a 3-story semi-detached monstrosity. In fact, the historic facade (which is in surprisingly good shape!) is identical to a few others on the street! My response: “Ah, no.”

I spoke with the neighbours immediately to the north, who were also concerned, and a neighbor across the way from me who’s a good friend and fellow Victorian home owner/restorer. We jointly put together a letter of opposition and presented it in front of committee today.

We won.

The proposal was rejected on the grounds that it was not in keeping with the nature of the other homes in the area, and that the narrow proposed frontage was further unacceptable. The committee went so far as to impune the reputation of the current owner, who clearly hasn’t been keeping up with preventative maintenance. The implication was that, if he can’t maintain the current property, there’s no guarantee he won’t cut corners on the replacement structure as well.

Of course, the applicant is appealing the decision, so this isn’t over — but it’s exciting to get involved and to realize that just 30 minutes spent on a letter of objection, and 5 minutes speaking over at City Hall, is a great way to stay involved wtih your community.

If you want to read the letter I put together and had my neighbours sign, comment using your email address and I’ll send you a link.

joanbits 2008.03

As the snow finally melts away, I start to get busier and busier. Here’s what I’ve been up to the past week:

  • Work: supporting new projects as usual, writing position papers, working on newsletters, technical enablement, beta testing.
  • House: cooking every night (pasta from scratch, ramen from scratch, gourmet hamburgers…will try and post some pics soon), planning garden, staring at wall that needs repairing and trying to motivate to fix it, regular cleaning, indoor gardening…
  • School: Developing axiology, epistemology, methodology for design research approach. Gave guest lecture on internal Wikipedia politics.
  • Other: Dealing with horrendous migraine. Developing novel database application. Attended One Of A Kind show with friends and got fabulous clothing, jewelry, housewares. Reverse engineering synth. Looking at motorcycle today. Petting cat to deal with stress from everything else i listed.

steampunk workspace

There’s been a lot of blog linkage recently to steampunk computing modifications – steampunk keyboard one-offs, commercial keyboard offerings, laptops, R2-D2s, etc. I love the aesthetic, but I don’t really have the time (or cash) to fully modify my computing setup. Instead, when it came time to soundproof my 2nd story home office, and I had to remount my Ergotron laptop/monitor/keyboard arms, I decided to add some “steampunk” appointments.

Behold the steampunk Ergotron pole mounts:

More pre-construction, fabrication and glamour shots are available. Details after the jump.
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thanksgiving 07

So I didn’t get into the studio. A pity. Instead I was helping to tear up the backyard for the new workshop/garage (photos shortly), and cooking Thanksgiving dinner yesterday. Thanks to everyone who came over to help work in the backyard, or to eat food!

That means, instead of making music, I turned this:

Raw turkey 2007

Into this:

Cooked turkey 2007

The full menu was as follows:

  • Roast turkey (hormone and antibiotic free, from Rowe Farm Meats; brined and cooked Alton Brown style)
  • Turkey gravy, made purely from the pan drippings and giblets
  • Sweet corn bread stuffing (Alton Brown style)
  • Halved boiled sweet potatoes (sometimes, simple is best)
  • Whole-berry orange/cranberry sauce (C. brought this – delicious!)
  • Halved, steamed fresh organic Ontario Brussel Sprouts in Mustard Butter (don’t knock ‘em if you’ve never had ‘em fresh from the farm, steamed properly!)
  • Cherry cream cheese streudel (bought at the St. Lawrence Market)
  • Peach Chiffon Pie (recipe below the fold)
  • Apple Ricotta Coffee Cake (tip: don’t use a food processor, just cut the lard in. And use animal shortening!)
  • Fresh vanilla tea, fresh whipped cream

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