DIY backyard shed

Last year during the summer, I focused heavily on playing less video games and spending less time indoors to compliment may commitment to losing weight (it worked too, lost about 25-30lbs during the year!). While I did also diet and increased the frequency of my usual outdoor summertime activities such as golfing, riding my mountain bike, and taking my dog for more walks, I also wanted to attempt something new as well, something constructive. I ended up deciding on building my folks a new tool shed for their backyard. I felt this is was a perfect project for me to get some exercise outside, do something constructive, and learn some handy skills in the process. I’m an project accounting guy by day and a gamer by night, so picking up power tools is definitely not something I’m used to. Fortunately my dad is a handy person and was there to help me when I needed advice, guidance, or an extra set of hands.

Here’s the old shed that came with the house they bought back in the 90s so we can only assume the shed is fairly old too. While structurally it was sound, it’s visual appeal wasn’t the best. My folks have slapped on a fresh coat of paint and new shingles from time to time so it wasn’t exactly terrible it just wasn’t the best. So after some browsing around at local stores and on Google, we decided on a general design and to build it from raw materials rather than buy a package. You’ll see this at the end, but we also decided on making it match the house and garage. Both of those have a light yellow vinyl siding, brown shingles and trim, and white doors and window frames. So to give it the ol’ razzle dazzle we decided on the same colour scheme.

Right off the hop, I’m going to apologize for the pictures, my photography skills are sub par and I was only using my phone. As mentioned, we decided on starting from scratch. So after we decided on the design and picked up the starting materials, here we began working on the base and the wall frames. Lira is looking on with excitement, maybe thinking we’re building her a mansion of a doghouse.

After the base and wall frames, we decided to move it outside for assembly so that it would be easier to move into place once ready. The walls and rear half wall were fairly straight forward to put together.

The frame for the roof was a bit trickier due to the angles required rather than a just a right angle. I started getting pretty comfortable using a miter saw by this point so it wasn’t too bad.

With the frame for the roof done, we wrapped up the back wall and a few support beams for the back.

Next came from the front panels and support beams, and as you can somewhat see we began putting on the plywood for the roof. For those front panels with the angle I learned how to use a hand held circular saw.

The roof is now complete (the plywood part anyways).

Front panel above the door was then cut and installed. Took a little bit of measuring and whatnot given the angle but nothing too bad.

So this is something like an insulation wrap that would go in additional to regular insulation on a house or garage as an added layer to retain heat and resist water. Now, for a tool shed this is not necessary, however we had a bunch of it sitting in the garage for years and decided to use to up by putting it on. Also, Lira was giving a disapproving look as I think I believe at this point she realize it’s not for her.

As this shed is going into a corner section of the yard, and on one side where it should be exposed is the doghouse, we had to finish off the sides and back before we could move it into place. The vinyl siding we used matches the house and the garage so it’s a nice touch.

Continuing the vinyl siding, we had to cut and properly install all the vinyl edges to match the angles of the roof as well. It wasn’t too bad but it was a bit tricky at times. Also, you can now see we’ve installed a door frame as well. By this time I felt I’ve basically mastered the miter saw.

More progress on the siding, decided we were on a roll and applied the front siding too even though the could’ve been done after the shed was moved into place. Also, at this point we painted the base a grey and the sides on the roof’s edges a brown as it matches the eaves troughs of the house and garage.

Before we continued the rest of it, we moved it into place. This was because the shingles were fairly heavy and they could be installed after the fact. But before we could do this, we had to dismantle the old shed which was all on me (because it was fun using the crowbar and sledge hammer!). We lifted the whole shed using a long steel bar as a lever, then put about six steel 3″ pipe under it. With that we were able to roll it into the place of the old one.

Once in place, the next step was to begin roofing. Again, brown matching shingles were chosen that match the house and garage. And speaking of matching, we painted the door frame white (and eventually the doors) so they too match the house and garage. Lastly, the old shed makes a guest appearance in this picture on the right side. It’s now all chopped up and will be great firewood for the fire pit this upcoming summer!

Now with the doors up. These were exceptionally a pain in the ass. Mainly it was due to getting a perfect fit in terms of height and depth after we built them. We did have to dismantle them once and start again after we did not calculate for the thickness of the hinges. Eventually we did get it all worked out and it was nice and flush in terms of depth, and as level as we could get it with some minor adjustments.

And ta da! Last touch was painting the doors and adding the lock. It’s not a perfectly constructed shed, nor is it professionally designed, but we’re rather happy with it. Working on this summer project was great, it gave me confidence in handling some basic woodworking tools, got me plenty of sun and exercise, and gave me a tangible constructive project. I think it also adds a little to the value of my parents place since it nicely matches the house and garage. But most importantly I spent lots of time with my dad during the summer and had a lot of fun building it.

Data is Beautiful: The Simpsons

At work recently I find myself needing to make some rather boring reports composed almost solely of numbers and values week after week. Since some of these reports are now going to higher up people, who do not need most insignificant details I found myself needing a little refresher on making somewhat decent visuals. So before I dove into throwing those work reports some colour, I decided to practice a bit beforehand. And what better data set than The Simpsons US Viewers and IMDB ratings of course!

While it’s no secret that The Simpsons viewership has declined over the years, it was quite surprising to see how far they’ve fallen. Somewhere around season 12 there was a short lived resurgence but it never made made it back to where to show once was (I’d say this is normal though). And while there is no question about decline of quality, I would argue that it is not the only factor leading to the dwindling show watchers. Keep in mind The Simpsons came out in the late 80s so this was a time long before entire seasons were available on VHS or DVD, before pirating was commonplace, and before TV on demand was a thing. Back then to catch an episode you actually had to tune into when the episode aired or risk not seeing it for years. As technology marched forward, turning on the TV because less important and TV stations all over the world felt the effect. So the quality of the episodes are not only at fault but it certainly does not help that the Simpsons wit was slowly replaced with overused slapstick antics.

As you can see by each episodes IMDB rating (I know it’s probably not the most reliable source) sometime around season 9 the quality began to drop as well. Indeed the golden years of The Simpsons was coming to an end right as I was getting old enough to understand all the clever jokes. Fortunately Futurama came along after!

Theme Hospital fans rejoice!

I’m not a huge fan of many big triple A games studios and publishers are pushing out these days so I can’t really say I’ve got any titles that I’m excited for in 2018. But it only took 18 days into the new year to put one on the list. Yesterday Sega tweeted and posted an announcement trailer (above) for Two Point Hospital coming in Fall of 2018. From the limited video and screenshots available, it looks to be fairly cartoonish, which excites me as it indicates that they will hopefully closely follow the mechanics that made Theme Hospital so fun. I’m also happy to see it available on Steam (of course). So if you were a big fan of the original and want to see some updated graphics (and who know what else could be new), put this one on your wish list as it looks promising!

If you’ve never played Theme Hospital, it’s a great sim game and you should check it out. You will most likely love it if you’ve liked games like Rollercoaster Tycoon and Prison Architect. It’s not on Steam, but it is available for at GOG for $7.49 CAD.

Ice fishing season has begun!

Besides playing the old NES with my dad, another thing we did together when I was younger was fishing. Somewhere in late high school this kind of tapered off as I began to have a bit of a social life and such. During university I was too busy as well and then I moved away and a hectic life just kept me busy. Though granted I could’ve made time during those years, I also just didn’t feel the urge to go fishing. So I didn’t really end up going with him again until I was 30 (we have gone golfing on the weekends for years so it’s not like I just ditched him don’t worry).

That was summertime fishing, I never really went ice fishing with him as I hated the cold. I decided one weekend to join him and give it a whirl. I found it relaxing when there isn’t a nibble while still exciting when they’re biting. So now it’s become a regular thing when we have a day free on the weekend.

I remember catching lots of perch when I was a kid but this weekend I caught the biggest perch I’ve ever seen let alone caught! It fought pretty good too, in fact when I was pulling it up I was convinced it was a decent sized walleye or perhaps a smaller pike. While it wasn’t the best day fishing (as you can tell by what we caught) I was ecstatic to catch this one. It measured 33cm (13 inches):

And while we’re on the topic of personal bests, I got this walleye last year though I never posted it then so here it is. It measured 60cm (24 inches) and I can’t remember the weight even though we did weigh it.

Twin Peaks S03E08 Aesthetics

Recently I finished watching Twin Peaks The Return (also known as season three). I won’t be doing a recommendation/review on season three as I’ve already got a general Twin Peaks recommendation, though I admit that was before The Return aired. But I will throw my two cents about it into a short blurb here and file it under Miscellaneous.

First you’ve really got to understand David Lynch’s work or at least his style. Though I admit I’m not overly familiar with all of his titles, from what I have seen he definitely shoots for the abstract and sometimes down right weird. While it’s not for everyone, his unique combination of stories, audio effects, memorable characters (for better or worse), and visuals give an interesting ride that you won’t really find in anyone else’s work and most people will find at least interesting. With that said, it’s no shocker that he wasn’t really basic cable friendly and always stuck to the big screen to have free reign with his creative process. So when Twin Peaks was aired on the mainstream airwaves, it seemed that Lynch was asked (or possibly forced) to dumb down the weird and appeal to a wider crowd.

However, this did not result in Lynch putting out a very simple murder mystery tailored for the basic cable viewer. He still managed to insert quirky characters, paranormal elements, confusing imagery and unsettling audio and visual effects. He kept all the elements that make his works unique, but tamed them down to be acceptable for the network. Because much of the story of Twin Peaks is hidden behind this curtain, it really did leave the typical viewer intrigued which I believe was a large factor to the popularity it achieved when it originally aired.

Now 25 years later, The Return was aired on a network that didn’t restrict Lynch and he took advantage of it. So fans of the original Twin Peaks that may not have enjoyed his other work, may not really enjoy The Return since it’s very different. Fans of Lynch’s stranger works though most likely loved the ride. Either way, The Return is not the Twin Peaks of old but it does have its own merits.

Well this short blurb that was supposed say The Return is weirder than the original run, turned into me ranting on a bit. Sorry about that. Anyways the main point I wanted to hit on, was that when Lynch does non basic cable work and gets a little weird, he churns out some crazy work in the visual department. And The Return is not an exception. Specifically, Episode 8 caught viewers off guard with a bit of a back story that heavily focused on visual story telling rather than dialogue. So I decided to take some screenshots of this visual trip because I thought they’d be great wallpapers or source material/textures to be used in something else. Enjoy!

This last one doesn’t really make for a great wallpaper nor texture use, but I thought it looked really damned creepy and I decided to throw it in.

Bat out of Hell: The Musical


When I make a recommendation article, I will usually lean towards easily accessible media so that should someone take my recommendation (Yeah I know that’s not likely) they can easily acquire it. Since you can’t really easily go to a musical if you’re reading this from the other side of the world, I won’t call this a recommendation. But I still really wanted to say something about it so we’ll classify this one as miscellaneous.

When the announcement for Bat out of Hell: The Musical was made I was ecstatic. While the album was before my time, I found myself picking it up and loving it in my late teens and early twenties. It was very different from my usual tastes but I found it to be a very fun listen. So when they announced it was only playing in England I was a little bummed out. Then sure enough, they announced it’ll be playing in Toronto. I immediately texted my best friend (who lives in Toronto) and said let’s go! Myself, my friend, and his longtime girlfriend all like the album and dished out the extra cash to be in the premium seats nearly in front of the stage.

I’ll admit that I haven’t been to many musicals in my life so I don’t have many other ones to compare it to. But, I can safely it was among the best things I’ve ever seen. Better than any other musical, concert, movie, comedy show or even the circus as a kid. I may even say it was phenomenal, at least for me anyways. I know my friends thought the same too, and they’ve been to a few more musicals than myself.

From start to finish it was a great ride. The storyline was really the only thing a bit lacking, but it is a musical so a simple story is to be expected. I’m assuming making an overly complex story doesn’t quite work for musicals. The stage props, effects, lighting, and transitions were pretty solid, and I enjoyed how they got creative with the set at times. Costumes and choreography were fairly good as well, no complaints there. Though it’s not meant to be a comedy, I found myself having a good laugh when they did sparing utilize some humorous dialogue as well as some good prop comedy. But what really made the show for me were the actual musical performances.

All the performers, especially the six main cast members, looked like they put their heart and soul into the show. None of them were lacking in talent department either, when they sung they hit their notes and bellowed out of their lungs with passion for the songs. And let’s not forget that the Bat out of Hell album itself is almost written like a musical or rock opera so the music was a natural fit for the show. The performers combined with the style of music gave an unforgettable experience. Even show goers who didn’t like the original album would have smiles on their faces.

I can see why it’s been getting such great reviews. And while I’m not a critic, I did want to make a little blurb about it (though not too detailed so I can avoid spoiling it for anyone) and commend the cast and crew for an unforgettable evening. If you find yourself in Toronto for the next few weeks, or in London next year when it’s there, I highly recommend you don’t miss this show.