About bilborg

I am who I am, there's plenty of data on this site to tell you more. Briefly, I'm a husband, computer geek, avid reader, gardener, and builder of furniture.

30 May 2021

First Time This Year

Today is the first time this year (actually, probably since 2019) that we ate out at a restaurant … indoors. We went over to Mi Casita over in Gambrills, and had our fill of yummy Mexican cuisine. Today is also the first time this year that we celebrated our twenty third wedding anniversary. That’ll be the only one, too, but when one is only counting to “one”, it’s easy.

Lexi Being Cute

Because that’s what she does:

Lexi, the chipuggle mutt, napping on the sofa with one of her toys.
Lexi napping with one of her toys

Winding Down

Y’all. Care for our democracy. Be vocal about these voting restrictions being put in place at the state levels all over the country. Put your money and your time into candidates that are in favor of expanding voting rights, caring for all people, and putting country and citizens over party.

23 May 2021

A long gap

Well, it’s been nearly two months since we last chatted, sorry for the inconvenience (as the Creator said to his Creation (in the fifth (I think) book of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy)). A fair bit has happened in the interim.

  • I am no longer a callow youth. I’m now less than four years away from 0x40. Yes, that’s right, I turned 0x3C this year. Admittedly, people make a big deal of turning 0x3C, but I don’t know why. After all, The Beatles didn’t write a song about that, they wrote “When I’m 0x40”.
  • I am fully vaccinated against Coronavirus Disease 2019 (aka COVID-19), via a two shot Pfizer regimen. I’ll note that, unlike some other folks I know, my second shot was followed by 12 hours of sore shoulder, followed by 36 hours of feeling pretty lousy. Frankly, it’s as sick as I’d felt in 5 years or so, and that was just my immune system letting me know it learned an awful lot from the first vaccination, thank you very much.
  • I completed my 14th year of employment with my current $FIRM. Still learning new things, still having (some) fun. So I’ve got that going for me. That tenure of employment almost reaches the median tenure for the firm, if that tells you anything.
  • We did a road trip up to Maine one Friday to take care of important family business… then drove back home the next day, because I had work obligations on the Sunday. Twenty hours of driving in two days is a lot, but this was totally worth it.

Ladders

I have four ladders.

  1. A 6 foot step ladder.
  2. A 12 foot folding aluminum ladder.
  3. A 24 foot fiberglass/aluminum extension ladder.
  4. A pull-down garage attic ladder that has two hinge points.

This is a story about the fourth ladder. A couple of weeks ago, I was putting some items up in the garage attic. Two or three trips up and down the ladder. All done, I came down the ladder and it failed on me as I reached the third step. The wood broke away from the metal hinges on the bottom section at the left and the ladder torqued to the right, trying to pitch me off.

The ladder failed in it’s nefarious plot, as I always retain at least two points of contact on short ladders (and three on tall). So I merely executed a rapid, controlled vertical descent, and incurred just a slight scratch on my left arm for my troubles. The ladder was… less well. However, I had other things to do, and no time to deal with making the repair-or-replace decision. So I bent the hinged area back to moderately straight, folded the ladder up, and put it out of my mind for a couple of weeks.

Today, after the shopping, it was time. So I placed one of the garbage totes in position to support the busticated ladder, and had a look:

The failure point on the broken attic ladder

You can see where the wooden side of the ladder catastrophically failed. However, there was also a missing nut, and one missing metal ‘L’ strap (another one is shown above sitting in the place where it, and the missing nut, should have been). All that being so, upon examination, I felt that I had the materials, tools, and skills to repair this $300 US ladder, in less time that it would take me to unmount the broken one, and mount a new one. So overall, this would be a net win.

Dis-assembled and laid out on the table saw extension.

At the point shown in the picture above, I was actually well along in the repair process. But this was the point at which I laid out all the old parts to ensure I had everything I needed to re-assemble the ladder. Shown above is the slightly brighter ‘L’ bracket I fabricated from a bit of strapping I had laying about. You’ll note the extra chamfered hole in that strap, not needed in this application, but not critical for its presence, either.

The same layout, but with freshly fabricated ladder sides

Because I had one unbroken ladder side, and they’re mirror images of each other, it was easy to use the one side as a template to replace both.

Why both? Because the wood is old and if one side was brittle enough to fracture like that, I expect the other side is too.

What about the rest of the ladder? Another good question. I thought about it, and frankly, it wouldn’t be hard, just time consuming. And its the uprights on the lowest section of the ladder that take the greatest strain and beating. So I made a decision to just replace those.

Fabrication itself wasn’t hard. I find myself wishing I actually had a T-bevel gauge. I always end up cobbling something together that can do the job (as I did this time), but a bevel gauge would be a better choice. It’s on my list.

Here’s what I used/did:

  • Spare dry pine in 1×4, of sufficient length to make the parts, plus spare if I screwed one up.
  • Miter saw for the ends.
  • Mocked up bevel gauge to mark the boundaries of the step slots.
  • 3/4″ bit in the router to make the step slots.
  • Clearance holes drilled for the #10 bar that goes under each step, and for the 1/4-20 hardware for the hinges.
  • A bit of light sanding, and a few passes with the block plane to ease the corners on all the long edges.
Ladder re-assembled, sturdy, and safe.

Re-assembly tool less than 10 minutes. I also checked/tightened all the rest of the hardware. Then I executed a brief test climb, and a couple of well-braced bounces on the ladder to ensure it is once again sturdy. All good.

Winding Down

Our condolences to the family and friends of Staff Sgt. Christopher F. Pantos, 55, of Richmond, Virginia, who died on Apr. 26, 2021, at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait, as the result of a non-combat related incident.

We also hope that all y’all are doing okay. It’s been a long string of stress-full years hereabouts, and the pandemic made it all worse. In this small part of the world, today things seem a bit better. The big deal now is to protect Democracy and throw and/or keep the Trumpublicans out of office. Seriously. Job One.

28 March 2021

Sprung

In our first week of spring, we had lows in the 30’s and highs in the 80’s. Fortunately, I’m using Fahrenheit rather than Celsius. I’ve managed a bit of yard work over a couple of weekends, and the first mowing of the (front) lawn was yesterday. Today? More rain… a nice follow-up to the 2.15″ of the moistness that visited us four days ago. (Sorry, California.)

Lexiversary

Lexi in her normal state of relaxation

This little cute chipuggle joined our household eleven years ago yesterday, having made a trip up to Maryland from a kill shelter in North Carolina the very day we brought her home. She’s now happy, spoiled, and wonderful.

Bird Condo

The bird condo I built, ready for occupation

The bird condo I built is now open for business, mounted on the fence line, below the oak tree at the base of the yard. It’ll be in shade much of the day, which is a good thing for not cooking baby birds.

Waiting for a shot

That’s what I’m doing, waiting for a vaccination. I’m told I’ll be able to sign up for an appointment a couple of weeks from now. Looking forward to that. Not least because we won’t have to get the alien nasal probing of a COVID-19 test prior to heading up to Maine, either for planned vacations, or on a whim… Yes, we’ll stay masked indoors in public for the next several months, at least. But a great stress will be relieved.

Winding Down

DoD announced no new casualties in the last several weeks, which is a good thing. The GOP, across the nation, are enacting voting rights restrictions among a plethora of other asshole moves. That’s not a good thing. Stay vigilant and motivated, folks. When they make it harder to vote, ensure that you jump through all the hoops needed to get to the poles and vote those jerks out of office and out of our lives. (I’m looking at the folks that sent Susan Collins back to the Senate for another six years, too… sigh.)

19 February 2021

Snow Day

Yep, we have ice and snow, but not anything like those folks that Ted Cruz abandoned when he went to vacation in Cancun. For one thing, after just a couple of days, we’re supposed to go above freezing for several hours today. Yesterday’s snow was a disappointment – we got a third of an inch of ice, instead of 4-6 inches of snow.

None of that stops folks around here from getting out in their cars and spinning about on the roadways, crunching into one another.

Lexi

Lexi usually goes upstairs to bed when we sit down to play a board game in the dining room.

Lexi the chipuggle mutt, settled in a chair in the dining room.
Lexi settled in the dining room

But last evening she broke with tradition, and settled in a chair next to me while we played Coldwater Crown (a fishing game). It’s got a lot more strategy to it than a game of Fish! Bass Lake

Woodshop

I’ve spent some time cleaning downstairs, both in the paint section, and dealing with the never-ending pile of scraps that I’m loath to toss. So I took a number of those scraps, and fabricated a bird condo.

Building a bird condo in the woodshop

It’s got room for four families of little tweet things, and the roof will be removable for cleaning, etc. I’ve still got a few coats of Spar Urethane to apply, to make it weather safe. But all the color coats on on and dry.

Winding Down

DoD announced no new casualties since the last time we shared this time together.

Oh, hey – Marcia got her first dose of the Pfizer coronovirus vaccine the other week, and the second will be in early March. Yay!

Be well, be reasonably safe.

31 January 2021

Happy New Year, Belated

I’m counting from 20 January, with a tiny bit of hope in my heart.

Goings On

We’ve been staying busy, but some stuff has been going on.

Lexi being cute:
Lexi, the rescue dog, with her old stuffed bee (from our friend Linda Rose)
Lexi with her old stuffed bee (from Linda Rose)
I fabricated a new dog dish holder in the wood shop:
The new wooden dog dish holder I made in my woodshop for Lexi the rescue mutt.
The new dog dish holder I made for Lexi

The dog dish holder was a four day project. The actual cutting and assembly was a matter of a couple of hours. All the rest was staining, and coats of polyurethane, with drying and light sanding at intervals. It’s much nicer looking than the old one, and a couple of inches lower, which is good for a little dog.

I did the annual deep cleaning of the Behmor cofffee roaster:
Annual deep cleaning of the Behmor coffee roaster.

This is a two-to-three hour job, as I first do my normal inside-the-roaster cleaning that happens every 4-6 weeks. Then I dismantle a lot of panels and using a vacuum, compressed air, and a lot of cleaner, extract as much chaff dust and oily crap as I can, before reassembly. This isn’t much work to invest annually in a roaster that enters it’s twelfth year of service next month!

Winding down

Our condolences to the family and friends of Staff Sgt. Timothy Luke Manchester, 34, of Austin, Texas, who died on Jan. 20, 2021, in Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, in a non-combat related incident.

11 January 2021

Shoes Keep Dropping…

Sadly, it’s not a case of waiting for the other shoe to drop. Instead, it’s shoe after shoe after shoe … What’s up there? A millipede? The news, it is nearly uniformly terrible, so let’s take that as read.

We’re doing okay. I’m baking.

Baking oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

Who doesn’t need cookies, even in the best of times? They’re even better in these times. So I made a double batch.

Lexi wants to be warm

Lexi, the chipuggle rescue mutt, is around 12 years old. Being warm seems to be more of a priority for her these winter days. So, laying on an electric blanket and covered in a t-shirt is an attractive pastime.

Winding Down

No casualty notices out of DoD over the last 28 days. It appears they’re not reporting COVID-19 deaths as casualties – but they’re happening all the same.

See y’all around.

13 December 2020

Friday the 13th falls on a Sunday this month

That said, we’ve not experienced a significant run of ill luck yet this day, but then neither of us suffer from triskaidekaphobia.

We are having intermittent warm and cold stretches, with a possibility of some icy precipitation on Wednesday upcoming – Marcia’s looking forward to that. Lexi can do without the heat of summer or the cold of winter, but she does look forward to curling up on the electric blanket in the mid evening on cold nights…

Lexi, the chipuggle mutt, curled up on the electric blanket
Lexi curled up on the electric blanket

Not much else to report yet. I’m waiting to see what happens come Monday.

Winding Down

Our condolences to the family and friends of Captain Kelliann Leli, 30, of Parlin, New Jersey, who died on November 27 in a non-combat related vehicle incident at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates.

Meantime, please stay safe, mask when you need to be around people you don’t already live with, etc. The vaccinations are coming, but it’ll be months…

19 November 2020

The Other Shoe

The shoe that hasn’t dropped, yet. Is he just being a narcissistic asshole, or is he clawing at every possibility he can envision before becoming a private citizen again, and subject to the consequences and suits and indictments that are headed his way?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m super pleased that Biden has won. I’m super disappointed that so many, many people still voted for the incumbent, and that’s going to be a deal for a long time.

So yeah, I’m still on edge, and that’s even without pandemic 2.0, and the idiots who STILL won’t wear masks or stay the hell home. Sigh.

Wood, continued

I’ve been doing a number of small projects, along with cleanup, in the wood shop. I finally broke down and took the small (12″ x 12″ x 1″) cutting board that sees the most action in our kitchen downstairs for refurbishing. I made that a dozen years ago or so, out of hard maple. The cutting surfaces are endgrain, and it’s a really nice small board. But one of the glued joints was delaminating, and that’s neither safe nor nice in a kitchen.

I cut the board in twain, following the line of impending doom. I flattened and dressed the mating surfaces on my jointer/planer. A liberal coating of Titebond III ™, a few clamps, and a couple of days yielded a nice solid board. I tuned the joint and the cutting surfaces with a hand plane, then sanded the thing using a progression of 60, 100, 150, and 220 grit using the orbital sander. A blast of air, a wipe down, and a coating of butcher block oil, and the work’s mostly done. All I’m doing now is letting the coating cure:

Hard maple cutting board refurbished
Hard maple cutting board refurbished

Winding Down

If I don’t wind down, I’ll surely continue to get wound up. So we keep trucking along, waiting for (more) good news. Two potentially effective vaccine candidates? That’ll be good news.

Lexi, our chipuggle mutt, laying on the carpet in the sun.
Lexi the sun dog

Lexi continues to be photogenic, but she’s falling into late-fall sun dog mode – not as interested in being outside in the cold.

25 October 2020

But First … for my friends and others in the US …

I don’t ask for a lot here, but I have one request to make of y’all – VOTE!

Democracy requires citizen participation: VOTE!

OFFS, just get out there and VOTE!

It’s probably too late for absentee/mail-in ballots, which is how Marcia and I have exercised our civic duty. But there’s early voting almost everywhere. Don’t sit home, don’t sit this out. VOTE!

Unless, of course, you’re offended when I ask that if you plan on voting for the incumbent, just keep your ass on the BarcaLounger ™ at home, in front of Fox and Friends. But even if you’re in that special camp, be smart enough to wear a mask, wash your hands, and avoid large gatherings. I do not wish illness or death on you and your family just because you’re … wrong.

Progress

Lexi guards me from my office window while I’m working. She sees squirrels on the deck, and barks. She sees squirrels on the far fence, and barks. She sees squirrels on the tennis court, several hundred feet away … and barks. Additionally, she barks at any other unexpected movement. So, leaves falling from the trees can mean that she’s hoarse for hours. Yay?

Lexi, the chippuggle mutt. at her guard post
Lexi at her guard post

Working with Wood

After doing some chores yesterday morning, I headed down to the woodshop to do a small project – it’s been a while. And as is often the case, the first thing I end up working on is something unrelated to the work I set out to do. In this instance, I ended up re-fabricating my cross-cut sled for the table saw. The first iteration of this handy shop fixture was a shade too big (and thus too heavy). Additionally, I’d gotten the tolerances between the two slide rails a bit too tight, so it was an effort to actually use.

New cross-cut sled on my tablesaw.

The new one is a bit smaller, a bit lighter, and a lot easier to use. Especially, I added lightness by hogging out much of the back fence of the sled, since it doesn’t need much besides center and side-to-side structure. I used the cut-outs to fabricate a couple of stops I can clamp to the front fence for repeatable operations.

The actual small project I wanted to work on took less time than the sled, although I did finish it up today, since I had just finished glue-ups before supper last night.

Shop-built drawer trays for my home office
Shop-built drawer trays for my home office

What I made were a pair of identical trays for the top drawer in the home office I built 7 years ago. This has all been functionally fine, but as the drawer closest to hand when sitting at the desk, it’s become a bit of a catch-all. And it’s really deeper than it needed to be. So I tacked in a slide rail of pine on each interior drawer side, and fabricated two trays. They’re 1-5/8″ deep internally, and 14″ x 7″ each. Assembly with rabbited corner joints, glue, and pin-nails.

The trays are sub-divided by a central rail that rises above the level of the drawer (still clears the opening in the cabinet carcass) and provides an easy way to keep stuff separate, and I can easily lift the front tray out and slide the back one forward. I reinforced the dividers and the tray corners with small, nearly full height corner blocks.

I didn’t put much of a finish on the trays – just a quick coat of paste wax to seal the wood. I’m pretty happy with the completed project. Small enough in scope to see through in a weekend, including the bonus sled rebuild.

Winding Down

We’re coming up on an important election, so VOTE!

667

It has been a month or so, but I’ve been … busy. Even though we’ve been healthy, as have our extended families, the coronavirus situation, in juxtaposition with the political environment has made for a stressful time. I wish I were hopeful on all fronts, but I’m going for survivability at the moment. Or an asteroid strike. Decisions, decisions.

Why 667? Well, it’s the number following the Number of the Beast, and the post that’s been sitting on top of the page for the last month was also the post numbered similarly. So it’s a bit of a celebration of having snuck past Old Scratch.

While I haven’t packed on a lot, I have been doing a fair bit of stress eating over the last few months. Having drawn my own attention to that behavior, I am working on replacing that with anxiety exercise. Wish me luck, I’m doing okay so far…

We did get out fishing once in the past month, and I caught a small bass, yay! This week, when we could have done that again, Marcia had an appointment, and I filled two mid-week vacation days with non-relaxation tasks: drywall, roof sealing, and some serious cleaning of both vehicles. Today I was glad to be back at chair and keyboard for a bit – it’s less tiring than “days off!”

()f course, it’s a three day weekend in these parts, so I’ve got three days to fill with further chores – probably some more fall yardwork, to be honest. Then I’ll drag out the trench coat and the squint for Columbo Day. One more thing…”

Winding Down

Our condolences to the families and friends of the following fallen warriors:

  • Senior Airman Jason Khai Phan, 26, of Anaheim, California, died on September 12 in a single-vehicle non-combat related accident while conducting a routine patrol outside the perimeter of Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait.
  • Staff Sergeant Ronald J. Ouellette, 23, of Merrimack, New Hampshire, died on September 14 in a single all-terrain-vehicle non-combat related accident on the flightline at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait.

Take care of each other, y’all.