3 December 2017

Oh, hey, we put up the festive artificial tree last weekend:

Christmas tree is up - 2017

Christmas tree is up – 2017

Someone said that it had probably been up all year. When I pointed out that Marcia’s hip surgery and recovery therefrom precluded much decoration last year, the reply was that it must have been up for a couple of years then. I then noted two things. First, we picked up this fake tree half-price in the after-season sales in January of this year. Secondly, if I had to have the Christmas stuff up year ’round, I’d go find someone with Ebola to cough on me. Bah Humbug.

*      *      *

I also recently picked up the model plane project that I started a few years back, but put up in the closet while other tasks took center stage: It’s an F6F3 Hellcat.

F6F-3 Hellcat balsa model

F6F-3 Hellcat balsa model

I’ve been occasionally posting pictures of progress over the last few weeks on the twitters, but I’m close to done now. I’m going to paint it out and display it as is (no tissue skin on it) – I like the architectural feel of it as a skeleton of the plane. Also, I’ve had a cutting mat and a real mess all over my desk for the last few weeks. It’s quite nice to recover all that space.

*      *      *

Our condolences to the family and friends of Cpl. Todd L. McGurn, of Riverside, California, who died on Nov. 25, 2017, in Baghdad, Iraq as a result of a non-combat related incident.

 

 

9 April 2017

G’day. Lexi was a happy puppy, yesterday late afternoon. That’s when Marcia got back home from a 9 day trip up to Maine, where she was spending time with her sister. This is a dog waiting for his mistress to come home:

Lexi waiting for Marcia to come home from Maine

Lexi waiting for Marcia

For the duration, I was bailing out of work early, coming home to walk the dog and work on fitting out Marcia’s closet. Every time I’d go down to the basement workshop, Lexi would eventually follow, and sit on her perch in Marcia’s sewing room (as above), and look a bit pathetic.

Here’s how the closet came out:

Marcia's closet completed

Marcia’s closet completed

So that, and getting the watering system setup for the hanging flower baskets on the front porch, pretty much ate my non-work week. This upcoming week will be fun – I’m spending some significant focused time on a configuration management tool chain.

*      *      *

What I’ve been reading: Born to Run: Bruce Springsteen by The Boss, The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer, 3001: The Final Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke, and Seveneves: A Novel by Neal Stephenson. Note, those are all in-process books and I’m enjoying all of them. Additionally, I just finished reading The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi. That was good fun and a great read. Wanting more and I have to wait for it…

Scalzi's The Collapsing Empire

Scalzi’s The Collapsing Empire

You can see I’ve got James S. A. Corey’s Caliban’s War waiting in the wings. But I’m not, not going to pick up another book until I’ve got one or more of the currently-reading tomes done with…

*      *      *

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week. Gratitude.

2 April 2017

A busy week and weekend – I got lots of things started, and a number of them finished. Along with shopping, laundry, front yard edging and mowing, and a car wash … I made progress both days on the closet project for Marcia: After taking down the old wire racks, I removed the anchors and started the wall patching process.

starting the patching process in Marcia's closet

Starting the patching process

Meanwhile, in the woodshop, I :

  • pre-sanded all of the component parts with 150 grit
  • wiped them down with a damp rag
  • let them dry, then resanded with 180 grit
  • coated them with a pre-stain sealer (drying, below), and
  • final sanded them with 220 grit.
Closet components drying, after pre-stain sealer application.

Drying after pre-stain sealer application.

My next steps are to final coat on the wall patching, sand and paint in the closet proper. Then for the components … I’m not sure. Probably just polyurethane for the slats and the rods, and wall-color paint for the brackets. I was going to stain some parts, but time is my enemy.

*      *      *

Our condolences to the family and friends of Staff Sgt. Austin Bieren, 25, of Umatilla, Oregon, who died on March 28 in northern Syria in a non-combat-related incident while deployed in support of combat operations.

27 March 2017

Whelp. Another week gone. A good work-week with an informative, day-long VMUG event smack in the middle. Wood working on the weekend. I’m making progress on that closet system. All the parts are fabricated and first sanding is done. Next, sealer, resanding, stain, and poly. A couple of weeks should see it done.

*      *      *

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

  • Sgt. 1st Class Robert R. Boniface, 34, of San Luis Obispo, California, died March 19, in Logar Province, Afghanistan, from a non-combat related incident.
  • Staff Sgt. Alexandria Mae Morrow, 25, of Dansville, NY, died March 22, in Southwest Asia, while performing maintenance duties in support of combat operations.

19 March 2017

It was a fairly uneventful work week, if by uneventful you mean a snow-day in mid-March. Three people made it to the office on Tuesday: I was one of them. We have an external vendor event on Tuesdays, and while it *can* be put off in an emergency, an inch or three of snow doesn’t stop me from getting the job done. I did my early morning work remotely, then spent about 45 minutes shoveling the driveway and sidewalks. Then off to work, and stayed there from 9 to 12.

*      *      *

The weekend, though, has been fun. I started out Saturday with a few chores and coffee roasting. Then I went over to one of the local lumberterias to pick up the materials I needed to build Marcia’s new closet system. Clearly, I chose the right transport for the job:

The right tool for the job - BMW M235i for the lumber run.

The right tool for the job

I unloaded the car, and broke down the long boards in the garage to rough design length before hauling downstairs. That pine is going to be the slats on the shelves, eventually.

*      *      *

Yesterday evening, we went over to Annapolis Shakespeare, in their new digs, for an evening cabaret of show tunes and sonnets. It was a lovely two hours of show, followed by a spot of mingling with cast, crew, and audience. Great fun. Next up with ASC: Alice In Wonderland (I think. It may be Richard III, in May … getting a new theatre operational is challenging).

*      *      *

Today, after the shopping, I went down to the woodshop and started making jigs, in order to repeatably make the parts that will end up being part of Marcia’s new closet:

Fabricating main supports using a 30° jig

Fabricating main supports

Much of the initial work was done on the table saw, for both the main supports and the backing wall attachments. Eventually I also hauled out the mitre saw for some angle cuts and working with the poplar I used for creating the supports for the hanger bars. Those got a through-hole put in them with a 1.32″ Forstner bit (in a specific location via stops), then cut to the right size on the miter saw, then a bunch of slots, etc. cut in batches on the table saw. The final bit before assembly was to round over all the outward facing corners, freehand, with a round-over bit on the router table.

Hanger bar supports in process

Hanger bar supports in process

I finished up the day gluing, pinning, and screwing the main support assemblies together. Here they are with spare parts: When I make a batch of identical parts, I’ve found it’s a good idea to make a spare or two while the setup is together. That way, if I ruin a piece, I don’t have to setup to make just one more. It costs little bit in materials, but saves a bunch of time in case of mistakes. Not to mention I’ve got templates to work from if I decide to build something similar again.

Support assemblies completed

Support assemblies completed

What’s next for those is to cut and add some slat attachment surfaces along the top edge of those supports, then sand and finish them. Then I’ll make the slats themselves. Everything will get sanded, stained, and a coat or three of poly. THEN we can dismantle Marcia’s closet, patch the walls, sand, paint, and assemble the new closet system. It’ll be a while, yet. But the job is finally started, so we’ve got that going for us.

*      *      *

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week. We are grateful for that. Ciao!

 

 

 

3 July 2016

Nearly happy Fourth of July, USAn’s!

*      *      *

In the garden this week, I pulled out some zucchini and broccoli on Tuesday. Yesterday, I hauled out half-a-dozen large zucchini, and weeded out the pepper bed. During that latter exercise, I made a horrifying discovery: I managed to plant a box full of pepper plants, and not a single Jalapeño among them. (I rectified that today.) Also today, I harvested another couple of zucchini before they got gargantuan, and ditto for a pair of cucumbers. And joy: The first tomato of the season.

2016 garden - first tomato

2016 garden – first tomato!

Being a reasonably nice guy, I gave the first tomato to my lovely bride.

Also yesterday, I got the lawns all caught up with the mowing, front and back. There are plenty more chores to go, but a nicely manicured lawn makes all the difference to the look of the yard.

Today, after the shopping, I went down to the woodshop and finished up the project for my dad with a couple of coats of polyurethane. That’ll get packed up tomorrow, so that Marcia can ship it in the week coming up. Then the shop needs a cleanup, along with the rest of the house.

*      *      *

Exercise – I managed to get the Fitbit to recognize two days of exercise this week, including yesterday’s stellar 25,000 step day, but I did no dedicated exercise during the week. Getting back into routine after vacation is challenging, and work/chores come first.

*      *      *

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

5 June 2016

On the exercise front:

Monday – Holiday.

Tuesday – 75 sit-ups, 50 squats, 30 push-ups, assorted stretches, and 5100 strides on the elliptical in 38 minutes.

Wednesday – 45 sit-ups, 30 squats, 18 push-ups, assorted stretches, and 6060 strides on the elliptical in 45 minutes.

Thursday – 60 sit-ups, 40 squats, 24 push-ups, assorted stretches, and 6130 strides on the elliptical in 45 minutes.

Friday – My back was wonky from a new addition to the “assorted stretches”, so I took the day off. I didn’t even get up to 10K steps (but close-ish at 8900).

Saturday and Today – Yardwork counted by Fitbit as exercise to the tune of 3.5 hours and 30K steps. Good enough.

*      *      *

Yep, the lawns are edged and mowed. The veggie gardens are weeded. And I pulled out enough broccoli to provision three dinners for two. Tonight’s was brown rice cooked with chicken stock, chicken breasts braised in chardonnay and fresh chives, and … broccoli. I also added some chopped fresh chives from the yard to my rice.

I spent some time in the woodshop working on a project for my dad, and that covers the non-working week.

*      *      *

I’m falling behind on my reading, though. There just aren’t enough hours and energy in these summer days.

Ooooh, yeah. There was something else…

I have a large primary UPS here in my home office, to run the always-on home server and assorted network gear, along with backing up a couple of other computers that are running from time to time (but I never like exposing a computer to line power). I’ve had it for several years now, and while the available run time has dropped off a bit, I never got a “replace battery warning”. Instead, at about 10 after 6 (AM) yesterday, it startled me out of sleep with a screeching alarm and an error code that didn’t make sense in context (overloaded). Hmmm. A bit of exploration online, and it seems that there’s something fundamentally off. More than just replacing the battery will fix, I’m sure. So instead I went down to Best Buy and picked up a replacement APC XS 1500 unit. On trying to shut down the old one a last time, I managed to elicit the same error that woke me in the morning. So it’s a good thing I replaced it.

*      *      *

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week.

20 March 2016

It must be Spring. We’ve been in the 30’s all weekend, and it’s currently dropping what’s quaintly called a “wintery mix” on us from low, leaden skies. Bah!

*      *      *

We’ve lost a lot of the roadside trees in our neighborhood in the last couple of years. The HOA’s landscaping service took out a bunch this winter, and replaced them with … some other kind of tree, I’ll guess. They didn’t get all of the dead trees yet, and from the tracks on the barkless trunk, you can probably see the reason behind the death:

Bug 1, Tree 0

Bugs 1, Tree 0

Yup, some kind of insect really loves the trees we’ve got in the upper part of the neighborhood. The lower is full of bradford pears, which are lovely in the spring, and as fragile as a vase, on a candlestick table, in a windstorm, on a concrete patio, surrounded by disturbed bison. The trees that are dying are less physically prone to splitting in half at the drop of a hat, but they’ve apparently appeared on the menu for some bug.

*      *      *

I got a variety of things done this weekend. After Marcia and I went up to Hobby Works this afternoon, I dug out the Hellcat model I’ve been working on for the last few years. Okay, I haven’t worked on it in a couple of years, but it’s still a fun project. I got the rest of the stringers laid onto the main part of the airframe today.

Hellcat model

Hellcat model in progress

Next up: wings.

*      *      *

I did run into an interesting problem this weekend. Firefox was auto-updated to version 45.mumble, and when that was done, I could no longer browse to any site that wasn’t https. After a while trying to fix things with my existing profile, I threw in the towel and built a clean new profile, and migrated some of the key configurations from the old. All’s right with the world again, at least in Firefox, for the moment.

*      *      *

Our condolences to the family and friends of Staff Sgt. Louis F. Cardin, of Temecula, California, who died on Mar. 19 in northern Iraq, from wounds suffered when the enemy attacked his unit with rocket fire.

17 Jan 2016

The hickory gel stain was curing on the yet-to-be-assembled pieces of Marcia’s new quilt ladder at the end of last week’s cliff hanger episode. (Vendor and product names property of their respective owners, duh!) Here’s the rest of the story, in pictures:

Quilt ladder glue-up

Quilt ladder glue-up

The glue-up was straighforward. A dollop of glue (Titebond III) in each dowel socket, a bit of assembly, and a bunch of clamps. After thinking about it for a bit, I decided to back up the glue with a #6 x 1-5/8″ finish trim screw through the rail into the end of each dowel. Some fastening is good, more is better.

Applying the finish

Applying the finish

Applying the finish to a single ladder nearly 8 feet tall would have been a pain. So would have been moving this piece around. So the initial design involved two-part construction that permits the ladder to be handled in two parts. Makes finishing a lot easier, too.  A clamp at the end of each rail, at the overlap point, holds the ladder sections vertical while I applied the finish to most of each section. Then rotate, and do the leftover bit, followed by rinse and repeat (with two or so hours in between each finish application) In this project, I used two coats of Minwax Water-based Oil Modified Polyurethane. It really brings the hickory gel stain to life.

Quilt Ladder in the foyer

Quilt Ladder in the foyer

The quilt ladder’s home, at least for the time being, is in the front foyer of the house. We had a couple of framed pieces on those walls, but they’re already re-homed. Details: The feet are cut at a 6 degree angle, to configure a safe leaning angle for the ladder. A couple of small rubber bumpers are affixed to each foot to prevent slide-out. And I think that the ladder looks pretty good, if a bit lonely…

Ladder and quilts

Ladder and quilts

Four quilts currently adorn the ladder, and Marcia professes to like her new quilt display device. She’s been after me to build her something like this for years. Finally, I found the inspiration.

The biggest single direct cost of this project were the dowels for the ladder rungs, at a bit over $20. The rails were fabricated from shop scrap. All the other costs were for materials of which I only used a little bit for this project: I either already had some around (glue, finish) or have lots left over for future projects (sealer, stain). I made one tool purchase: a 1-1/8″ forstner bit was something I previously lacked in the shop.

*      *      *

Our condolences to the family and friends of Maj. John D. Gerrie, 42, of Nickerson, Kansas, who died on Jan. 16,  in Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, from a non-combat related incident.

10 Jan 2016

A full work week to start the new year, and things are going well. I’ve lots on my plate, which is a good thing. Interesting new projects combine with ongoing operations to make my working days exactly as I like them.

 *      *      *

On the home front, I’ve been working on building Marcia a quilt ladder, which she’s been wanting for years now. I’m fabricating it out of shop scraps and 1-1/8″ dowels. Here’s the fit assembly, before I started on the finishing:

Quilt ladder fit assembly.

Quilt ladder fit assembly.

All of the material is pine, so after the fit assembly looked fine, I took it all apart. On Saturday, every piece got sanded, then wiped clean with a damp cloth. I rested the materials for a couple of hours, then gave everything another light sanding to deal with the initial raised grain. Another wipe down, then a coat of pre-stain sealer. This is an important step with soft woods, since they tend to take up stain unevenly. I let that sit overnight.

This morning, after shopping, I came back down to the shop, and sanded everything again with 320 grit. Then I applied the hickory gel stain:

Quilt ladder hickory stain

Quilt ladder hickory stain

Each piece got a coat, followed by a couple of minutes of rest, followed by a wipedown to remove any excess gel stain. I’ll let that cure for a couple of days, then do the assembly. The last step will be a couple of coats of polyurethane. So by next weekend, perhaps, this will be done.

 *      *      *

Our condolences to the family and friends of Staff Sgt. Matthew Q. McClintock, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, who died on Jan. 5, 2016, in Marjah District, Afghanistan, from wounds suffered when the enemy attacked his unit with small arms fire.