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.

26 March 2018

Busy week and weekend past. The week brought us our heaviest snow of the season, on the first day of Spring. Here’s a shot from my drive home last Wednesday, midday:

First day of Spring: Snow

First day of Spring: Snow

Much of the weekend went to house cleaning and associated chores – we have a house guest arriving shortly. I also roasted some more of the Guatemala Pico Mayor Gesha from Sweet Maria’s. Lovely stuff, and it wouldn’t do to run out because I’ll be brewing more than usual, perhaps. I also did some more glue-ups on the new jig I built last weekend:

New glue-up jig in woodshop

New glue-up jig in woodshop

 

We march in spirit with students from across the Union, in search of leadership that can do better at many things, including championing and passing sane laws regarding guns.

*      *      *

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week. Ciao!

4 March 2018

A fairly calm work-week, until the big winds came. We didn’t lose power at the office, nor at home. But plenty of blinking lights and brown-outs, at both locations. ‘Round about 1 PM, Marcia called and said there were bits blowing off the house, and … problems with the fence. There was plenty of coverage at the office, so I came home. The house issue was limited to some segments of the aluminum soffit under the second story eaves in front. The fence issues, however… On the southeast perimeter, some fencing had come loose from one post, and another post is failing. I’ve got that braced pending further work, later in the spring. The northwest segment of fence saw a more dramatic failure:

Fence failed during windstorm - a post snapped off, and one 8' section blown about 35 feet into the yard.

Fence failed during windstorm

There, the fence failed during windstorm – a post snapped off, and one 8′ section blown about 35 feet into the yard. Not much I could do about that until the winds died down. Saturday, we were already committed to helping out with spring cleaning and reorganization down at the theatre. That left today for repairs.

This morning, after shopping, I headed down to the Home Depot to get what I needed: a couple of bags of concrete and six eight-foot long 2×4 pressure treated. I had a spare post, and just enough fence uprights left over from the big fence project of a couple of years back. Once home, I geared up and started by cutting the two old fence sections in half, for later ease of handling. Then I started working with the shovel, pick axe, and trowel, clearing enough of the minimal concrete and mucky clay from around the stump of the old post, that I might extract said stump. All in on that part of the work – just over an hour. Using my post hold digger, I got down to about 36″ of clear hole, and prepared for the new post. Marcia came out and held it while I trued up the post using a small level and string line. Then I braced the post, and got ready to fill with concrete and backfill from the hole digging process.

New fence post in hole, ready for concrete.

Post in hole, ready for concrete.

Once I’d set the post, I left it to set up for a bit, and got the ladder out to go deal with the soffit issue. The soffit panels were interesting in their storm dispersal. Four of them had blown into the yard of the house just south of us, were collected by that neighbor and saved for us. The fifth segment had executed a Mary Poppins maneuver: Across the street and about 4 houses up – three to four hundred feet away. I spotted it by accident while walking the dog on Saturday. But all in, an easy fix. It was trivial for me to reach the place where the panels needed to be, while standing on the front porch roof. 45 minute put that chore to bed, and I was back at the fence work.

Using a string and measuring tape, I set the top, middle, and bottom rails for the two new 8′ sections of fence. They’re well secured with angle brackets and 3″ coated screws. Then I started setting up for nailing up the fencing proper. By 3:50 PM, I was attaching the first board. By 4:45, the work was done, except for the cleanup.

New fence sections done

New fence sections done

A pneumatic nail gun loaded with 1-3/4″ galvanized 18 gauge stock makes quick work of the job. A couple of pieces needed trimming at the end of each section. All-in-all, a good day’s work. Exhausting, but good.

*       *       *

On the exercise front, I had a good, good February. I met all the goals for exercise, workouts, and active calorie burn, every day of the month. Hard to do, but making progress feels good.

*       *       *

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week.

25 February 2018

Okay, all good. Two three day weekends are now done.

Eight days ago, I started a house cleaning binge on the Saturday morning, expecting to get the house caught up so that I could do some other projects and have some relax time over the ensuing days. About midway through, I got to the living room, and decided it was time to swap out a couple of the pictures on the wall with more recent acquisitions. One of them needed hanging wire, so I went down to the wood shop to paw through my stacks of stuff and find the wire. I did find the wire, but first I found a lump of drywall laying in a puddle of water on the shop floor, with a slow drip continuing from above. Argh!

I’ll summarize the next couple of hours for you. Turns out that in the furnace area, a former whole-house humidifier (long since gone) had been supplied from a saddle valve, and connected with plastic tubing. The valve at the far end of the tubing had been shut off when the humidifier had been removed, but that’s it. Sigh. Plastic tubing *always* fails, sooner or later. A pinhole leak in the tubing was spraying into the insulation above a main HVAC trunk (square). The water ran along the top of the trunk for a few feet, then dripped into the trunk airway. It then continued running along the trunk, until it dripped out again, and onto some drywall. By the time the drywall failed, there was a couple of gallons on it, so splash. It did take a while to track down the source of the leak, and with some contortions, was able to get to the saddle valve and cut the water off at it’s source. That left a little time to get ready for attending Blithe Spirit again, that Saturday evening. Lovely fun show, better the second time around – it’s a fast paced show, and having it fresh in mind when seeing it the second time getting the lines and the beats a lot easier. Talented cast did stellar work, and the show closed today.

Sunday I spent getting bits, properly capped off that saddle valve, and removed the plastic line from service entirely. Monday was spent cleaning up the shop, and building a wall-mounted necklace storage thing for Marcia’s closet:

Marcia's new necklace hanger

Marcia’s new necklace hanger

I had a moderately busy, moderately successful 3-day work week, with an evening of Linux infrastructure and non-production system patching smack in the middle. This three day weekend was lovely. I would have liked to get out and start prepping the yard … but it rained all weekend. So I got some more of the cleaning done, gave the dog a bath, and sundry other chores, along with production Linux patching this morning starting at 0700. But we ended on a high note. Tonight was Cabaret night at Annapolis Shakespeare, “Broadway and Beyond”. Cast was Sally and four folks who are all going to be in the upcoming production of Kiss Me Kate. Good fun.

*      *      *

Our condolences to the family and friends of Sgt. Christina Marie Schoenecker, 26, of Arlington, Kansas, who died on Feb. 19 in Baghdad, from a non-combat related incident.

16 January 2018

G’day. Yep, I was busy. Sunday we did the shopping, then I started in on chores and such. About halfway through the afternoon, I saw an email that Annapolis Shakespeare Company needed a hand. It was the first load-in day for the set of the next play, and the expected carpenters had bailed on them. So I gathered some tools and went off to Annapolis to help out for several hours. I got home before 10, though… I went back the next day and gave a hand for another few hours. When I wrapped up my participation, all the walls and bracing that could be done were done. Glad to be of service. Still taking ibuprofen, though. And the extra holes in my skin (mostly hands) are beginning to heal. Yay! Good to have spent MLK Day doing volunteer service for our favorite 501(c)3, as well.

I’m not sure I’d be good at set design. I’m a build-to-last kind of guy. Sets are designed to look great for 6 weeks, and be rapidly dismantled before they fall apart of their own volition. Heh.

Not much else to report. I did get some coffee roasted – a Tanzanian from Sweet Maria’s. It’s resting, and I’ll start brewing from that in another couple of days.

*      *      *

I recently finished reading Fluency (Confluence Book 1) (at this writing: $0.00 for Kindle) by Jennifer Foehner Wells. I’ll admit to a fair reluctance to dive headllong into the new wave of Speculative Fiction – there’s so much unevenly edited crap out there… But I can usually tell within a few pages whether I’ll be swiping the book to the archives, or reading it through. Fluency got a read-through. I enjoyed Ms. Wells’s writing style. The premise of an insectile spacefaring enemy that hasn’t arrived yet, a ship whose only remaining crew is the squid-ish navigator, and a human team of folks who might be able to get along and complete their mission, if it weren’t for the space slugs and the rogue nanotech… Okay, it’s a bit of a mashup, with shades of Red Dwarf and a few special easter eggs. I enjoyed reading it through, and more importantly, I am going to read the next book in the series. That doesn’t happen much, so can count as a reasonable recommendation. I could wish for two lead characters who weren’t starved for the physical attentions of the other, unrequited except in alien-mediated virtual reality. I’ll see how the second book stacks up. Recommended.

*      *      *

Our condolences to the family and friends of Spc. Javion Shavonte Sullivan, 24, of Fort Mill, South Carolina, who died on Jan. 8 in Al Anbar Province, Iraq, from a non-combat related incident.

7 Jan 2018

First post! Of 2018.

Lunacy continues in some quarters, in others, it’s just bloody cold. Yes, yes, 3°F is winter-time heatwave/shorts weather… in Fairbanks. Here, it a nuisance. But we’re due for some warming up this week, which I’m looking forward to.

We got a lot done this weekend, including the dismantling and boxing of the holiday paraphernalia. That buys me ten and a half months until I have to pull those out of the garage attic again! I roasted a pound of Kenyan beans from Sweet Marias, after picking up the mess left from a stack of trim falling off the wall in the woodshop:

The stack of wood trim fell off the storage at the top of the wall, leaving a mess of pickup sticks!

Pickup sticks: trim fell

Tonight we went over to Annapolis Shakespeare and enjoyed an evening of instrumental Broadway and jazz, with Marc Irwin (pianist and Musical Director of the Company) and guest Maeve Royce on the bass. Quite wonderful!

Also, I see from Barbara’s updates on Bob’s page that he’s finally due to leave the hospital and get into rehab (and hopefully soon from there to home)! We’re very glad to see Bob making progress!

*      *      *

Our condolences to the family and friends of Sgt. 1st Class Mihail Golin, 34, of Fort Lee, New Jersey, who died on Jan. 1 in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, after being engaged by enemy small arms fire while on a dismounted patrol.