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.

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!

7 September 2020

Staying Busy

Yeah, it’s been a month. I’m dancing as fast as is reasonable in these terrible and weird times. And sometimes I’m building stuff… Sometimes building stuff means building other things first, in order to build the thing desired. Yep, a fixture:

A fixture. That 30 degree angle is important…

Once the fixture was done, I could work on parts:

The fixture holds some schedule 40 pipe… and there’s a router?

With the fixture to guide the router, I could cut slots into the schedule 40 pipe, in a specific orientation to the 30 degree angles the pipe was cut at. Then I could screw the pipe lengths onto the final product:

The thingumy has been built.

The slots at the bottom? Just for access to screw the pipe into the backing there, too. The slot at the top? That’s for accomodation of the things stored therein:

It’s a fishing rod holder for Marcia’s truck.

Yep. A fishing rod holder. This is a lot better than a clutter of rods tangling themselves while lying on the floor mat in the back, there.

Keeping Alright…

We’re keeping alright, thanks. Between the coronavirus and this administration, things are frankly a little too “interesting times” for my taste, but all I can do to improve the prospects for both is to vote.

Vote, y’all! Make sure your registration is correct and current. If you want to do a mail-in (or absentee) ballot for the safety of all concerned, please research how to do that in your jurisdiction, early. Don’t procrastinate.

Winding Down

There have been no casualty announcements on the DoD site in the last month. If true, I’m glad.

9 August 2020

Fishy Business

The fish jigsaw art piece featured recently is now done and on the wall. I put on a couple of coats of clear matte water-based polyurethane on the back to seal it, and four coats front and sides. After the first coats, I used some 220 grit on the wood surfaces to knock down the nibs, and gently with some single ought steel wool for the face of the puzzle, just to give a bit of bite for the ensuing coat. All the other coats were followed by a light pass with the steel wool. Here it is on the wall in the master…

A fishy jigsaw puzzle mounted on wood, on the wall.
A fishy puzzle on the wall

Gardens

In the front yard, everything remains green. That’s undoubtedly due to the unusually consistent and high amounts of mid-summer rainfall. A usual July and August pattern yields the occasional thunderstorm, which retains the power to terrify the dog, but drops just a couple of tenths of an inch, when it doesn’t miss us altogether. But we’ve had some good storms come through over the last month, for a total of 9″+ measured on the backyard meter here. And we haven’t had a week without at least one good soaking.

Two major effects there – first is that the lawns, which have usually gone a bit brownish and less enthusiastic in their growth have remained green and chugging right along generating requirements for mowage. Second, the tiger lillies, which usually are blooming in the first days of July, then done and gone by just past mid-July, were epic this year. We still had blossoms on the tops of the lilies in the last week.

Tiger lilies in the front yard

In the back yard, sadly, the news isn’t as good. After losing all of my first plantings to frost in late April, most of the second plantings have failed due to rust. So while tomatoes were produced, they are sickly and not really edible. Two exceptions to the rule – a pair of plants producing small roma tomatoes, planted in the other bed with the peppers, are thriving. I think they came from a different wholesale nursery than the others. Ah, well. So we have peppers and some tomatoes – so a bit of salsa, then.

Tomatoes and peppers harvested from the back garden

Other News

I’m waiting to hear back from La-Z-Boy, we have a broken mechanism in the Gibson recliner we bought a decade ago. They offer lifetime warranty on reclining mechanism parts, so it’s just a nominal shipping/handling charge to get parts. Good news: I have the tools and ability to repair it myself, given parts. Actually, had I a machine shop, rather than a wood shop, I probably could have bought some raw stock and made replacement parts myself. But I don’t.

Work continues busy, which is a good thing. I continue to shop for groceries sporadically, at 10-14 day intervals, as we try to minimize our outside contacts while we wait for Big Pharma to figure out how to overcharge us for the vaccine(s) we’re paying them (as taxpayers) to develop.

Winding Down

Our condolences to the family and friends of Sgt. Bryan Cooper Mount, 25, from St. George, Utah, who died as the result of a vehicle rollover accident while conducting reconnaissance operations on July 21, 2020, in Eastern Syria.

19 July 2020

Almost Caught Up

The last two weekends have been full of chores, catching up on the early summer yard suffering. Temperatures had been reasonable, and there’d been a fair bit of rain during our absence. That meant that lawns, weeds, everything was growing like gangbusters. But I’m almost caught up. Some of the tomato plants are starting to produce, as are most of the pepper plants. Others of the tomatoes don’t look entirely … enthusiastic about the ONE job they have this summer.

Work is ongoing for me. I’m still going into the office once a week for a weekly process related to backup that requires hands on site, as well as once a month for a printing process that has a bit of complexity, and tight deadlines. So, for me, that’s Monday and Tuesday of this week.

Additionally, I’ve got a full plate of online trainings and a couple of exams to knock out in the next month to keep my certifications in top form. So, there’s that.

Art Project

Today, after the bi-weekly shopping, I went down to the basement to work on our latest art installation. Months ago, Marcia assembled a fish jigsaw puzzle, and was entranced. She wanted it mounted in some way, to hang on the wall. She applied some form of mod podge to the puzzle itself, to make it robust enough to adhere to a backing. It was my job to come up with the backing.

Weeks ago, I assembled a collection of old southern pine boards into a backing, per Marcia’s specifications. Today, I did the masking:

The puzzle backing display, masked for adhesive

Once masked, I sprayed the clear area of the backing boards, and the back of the puzzle with 3M Type 77 spray adhesive, and waited a few minutes to let it set up to a high tack.

With a few dowels laid across the boards to suspend the puzzle near, but above the backing, I positioned the puzzle, and then started to adhere it to the backing, starting from the bottom, then moving towards the top, removing dowels as I went.

Finally the masking is removed, and the whole is revealed:

Puzzle firmly on board

Marcia’s happy with it, which means that I am, too. I’ll give the adhesives a couple of days to off-gas, then we’ll apply two or three coats of matte polyurethane. Finally, we’ll figure out where to hang it in the house.

Winding Down

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

  • Spc. Vincent Sebastian Ibarria, 21, from San Antonio, Texas, died as the result of a vehicle rollover accident, on July 3, 2020, in Farah, Afghanistan.
  • Pfc. Alexander Blake Klass, 20, from Willamina, Oregon, died as the result of a non-combat related incident, on July 4, 2020, at Camp Novo Selo, Kosovo.
  • 1st Lt. Joseph Trent Allbaugh, 24, from Folsom, California, died as the result of a non-combat-related incident, on July 12, 2020, in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

17 November 2019

Paperwork

As we wind our way through open enrollment season and clarifying what things are still eligible for reimbursement, I’m have such fun with sorting through the paperwork and ensuring that we’re getting back all the pennies on the dollar that we have coming. It’s one of those things I should do with more regularity, but since interest rates suck so hard, it really doesn’t make sense to do the dance too often. Anyway, I’m almost done, having figured out we should spend a bit more on vision care in the next two weeks, to maximize our return.

Woodworking Prep

In advance of the planned kitchen cabinet work, I’ve done some more cleanup and prep in the wood shop, cleaning up so that I can make a whole new mess. But there’s nothing else done there yet, other than a couple of sketches for materials planning. Soon, though, bunches of plywood and vast lengths of 1×4 poplar will be making their way into my cottage industry cabinetry empire. Soon.

Weather

If it matters to y’all how cold we are, you can start giggling now. We have not had any accumulating snow yet, although slow rain was observed falling a couple of times in the last week. In general, we’re dropping a bit below 32°F each night, and went down to 17 or so once. That’s pretty low for an early November night.

Winding Down

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week. Nothing else to report.

28 May 2018

Memorial Day for those in the US. All respect and honor to those who gave their lives in service to our Country and Constitution.

*      *      *

A busy week last week, building new systems for new services, retiring old systems, and generally doing modern system administration stuff. Continuing to build out the configuration management system to improve system repeatability, reliability, security, and availability. So there’s that. The three day weekend had a bit of lawn work, a bit of garden work, coffee roaster maintenance and roasting, etc. Oh, and a bit of old-school wood working:

Breaking out the block plane to smooth a small cutting board glue-up.

Breaking out the block plane

 

*      *      *

I’m also signed up for this year’s Capclave. Such an awesome small literary speculative fiction (F/SF/etc) convention. Wonderful, supportive, inclusive, and diverse … and such a deal: 3 days of convention for $55 currently (it goes up in $5 increments as the last weekend in September 2018 approaches, but even at the door, it’s only $65!) Are you in the DC Metro area? Can you be, in late September? Join us!

Oh, hey: Annapolis Shakespeare‘s production of Molière’s The Miser opens tomorrow night for an 18 week run in the courtyard at Reynold’s Tavern in Annapolis. Exceptionally, for us, we’re going to miss an opening night, but we’ll see it soon. Gonna be fun! Dinner. A show. You should go!

*      *      *

Our condolences to the family and friends of Staff Sgt. Conrad A. Robinson, 36, of Los Angeles, California, who died on May 24 at Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo, from a non-combat related incident.