Engineering Challenge

As most of my friends know, my brother bought a way cool cottage up north. And since he didn’t mind getting a fixer-upper, well, that’s what he got. It’s not in bad shape at all, really. But does need some work here and there. Just small things, like preventing it from sliding into the lake 😀

I exaggerate. But when we put up the first pictures of the cottage, and our good friend Walter saw them, he sent us email. He was very concerned about the supports. We were able to reassure him – my brother is a civil engineer, like him, and he knew about the problem and in fact it was one of the first things he fixed. The picture below is the before picture. If you look closely, you can see one of the wood beams getting very close to the edge of the support.

tony-cottage-09-pano

He also decided to level the cottage last year. Since he wanted to add some windows and replace patio doors, it needed to be leveled. So, a little at a time, he shored up each post and made the cottage level.

Then this year, after he replaced the patio doors, he was under the cottage and realized that the whole cottage was leaning out further. He figured that the load on the supports had changed, and as a result, the “piers” it was resting on started to lean out. He hadn’t thought of this happening, and I think he was a little upset because it diverted him from his other plans. He now had to put everything on hold until he could figure out what to do.

He spoke briefly about building a basement under the cottage (something he’d love to have), but it’s far too expensive. Then he started making plans to dig out the piers and straighten them out. I could tell it was plaguing him, he was thinking of it constantly. (It’s a thing we Perrella’s do — we worry over a problem, almost consumes us, until we’ve got a solution.)

At some point I realized he had stopped talking about it, and so I asked him how that was going. And he said, “Oh, I’ve got that worked out”. And he sent me these pictures. Jeez.

Cottage Support

He’s been calling this one the “Leaning Pier of Tony”. This one looked pretty frightening to me.

Leaning pier of Tony

He says this will hold the cottage steady through the winter and heavy snows, and he’ll have to dig out the piers and re-set them vertically next year.

Any of you civil engineers out there have some advice??

60 Years of Marriage

My parents were wed on September 9, 1948… yup, that’s 60 years. Wow.

Ma and Papa

My parents wanted a very quiet celebration (so quiet, they didn’t want to do *anything*), but we convinced them to go out for dinner. Our little party included only immediate family, including my father’s sister. It was very nice, as we don’t often get the chance to all be together. Unfortunately, my niece wasn’t able to make it… she was getting ready for her trip abroad.

As many people are getting married when they’re older, I guess 60 year anniversaries will become rarer. Then again, people are living longer. Let’s see… Reid and I will be 91 in order to celebrate our 60th anniversary. Hmmm. 😀

Shorty

Ah, well, the day has come. I knew it would, just thought I had a little longer.

Ronnie and Shrimp

It seems I am the shortest person in my family. Ronnie has surpassed me. I refused to believe it at first, but perhaps I should resign myself to it. We noticed during the weekend when we had a small get together in honour of friends Andrew and Jenny, who were visiting from California. I made Reid take repeated pictures to prove it to me. Ronnie is happy as a lark. A friend Tom helpfully suggested we have another child so I don’t have to be the shortest. I’ll take it up with Reid.

Off work

I’ve been working at Bell for a little over a year now (well, except for 3 months off), but no more. Lots of turmoil as they restructure, and most contracts were ended. They were more than fair to me, giving me a month notice. Very nice group of people and I hope I get to work there again one day.

I worked for the IVR group – that would be the automated answering system that takes your call and directs you to the right agent, or, lets you serve yourself. Being in IT for so long, I found it wild working on a phone system. Whenever I had to test the system, I had to use the phone rather than a computer. It was a hoot. And I have to admit, it’s a lot simpler to test a phone system than an application in most cases (not all!!)

I really enjoyed learning how their voice recognition works. I found we would anthropomorphise – referring to the system as “she”. Very easy to do when you’ve given the system a female name and when you’re talking to “her” all the time during analysis and testing.

Now I have a better appreciation of how deal with voice recognition IVRs as a customer (and boy, do I get pissed when they don’t work well!) I’ve heard a few people complain about Bell’s system, but I can attest to the fact that they work very, very hard to get it to work as smoothly as possible.

Not in too big a hurry to find another job. Hey, it’s August!