3 July 2016

Nearly happy Fourth of July, USAn’s!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

3 Jan 2016

Happy New Year, y’all!

I’ve spent the last two weeks holidaying, eating, reading, relaxing, doing chores, and fixing things around the house. Tomorrow, I go back to work. Grumble.

Not really grumble. I enjoy my work. I appreciate and respect the team of people I work with. Especially, I love to stay busy. I have specific goals for the next two weeks – a lot of stuff to accomplish and document in a relatively short amount of time, so I’ll be very busy indeed. That makes me happy.

In the woodshop over the last few days, I’ve been working on building a quilt ladder for Marcia. Pictures in a week or two, as it approaches completion.

That’s all I’ve got for now: I’m looking forward to this year.

*      *      *

DoD has reported no new casualties in the last week. Ciao!

27 Dec 2015

Another busy weekend gone by. I was doing some clean up in the shop, and came across a stack of 2×2 acoustic tile matching the small section of drop ceiling in the basement kitchen. Wonderful – I have a few of those that need replacing. A couple of them had holes in them, not hard to replace. Another one, though, was severely bowed by the HVAC vent attached to a floating, insulated feeder. The additional weight had bent the tile nearly an inch out of true. Were I to just replace it, the tile would be good for a year or so, but as the moisture in the house fluctuated over the seasons, it’d have bowed again. So I glued a plywood reinforcing bar to the back of the tile, and let it cure overnight.

Reinforced ceiling tile

Reinforced ceiling tile

I installed that back in the kitchen today.

Also today, I worked on (finally) patching the section of sheet rocked basement ceiling that I pulled out when we had the upstairs fridge water line leak., back in the middle of the summer. I first put the work off because the remaining rock had to dry out. Then I put it off because, well, I forgot about it. I so rarely go through into Marcia’s fabric room. So today I cleaned up and made the opening rectangular, and lapped in some half-inch ply to perform as a stop as well as something to screw the new rock to. Using offcuts from 2″ x 2″ x 1/2″ drywall (I don’t keep full sheets laying about), I patched the hole, and overlaid the gaps with mesh tape.

Patching drywall

Patching drywall

I then applied the first coat of mud. More work on that project tomorrow. Remember – I’m not planning on being back in the office until 4 January.

  *      *      *

The unseasonably warm weather has continued – I was walking the dog after dinner while wearing a t-shirt, jeans, and dock shoes. I could have been wearing shorts – it was still 65 F out at 1830 this evening. But according to the NOAA, we’ll be back to normal, below freezing overnight temps by the end of this week.

  *      *      *

Our condolences to the families and friends of these fallen warriors. They died Dec. 21 of wounds suffered when their patrol was attacked by a suicide bomber on a motorcycle near Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.

  • Maj. Adrianna M. Vorderbruggen, 36, of Plymouth, Minnesota.
  • Staff Sgt. Michael A. Cinco, 28, of Mercedes, Texas.
  • Staff Sgt. Peter W. Taub, 30, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
  • Staff Sgt.  Chester J. McBride, 30, of Statesboro, Georgia.
  • Technical Sgt. Joseph G. Lemm, 45, of Bronx, New York.
  • Staff Sgt. Louis M. Bonacasa, 31, of Coram, New York.

 

Knife work

New walnut knife handle

New walnut knife handle

Another kitchen knife with a broken plastic handle retrieved from the edge of disaster and made real purty with some walnut, and brass screw rivets. Turns out the hardest part of this project was finding where I’d hidden put in a safe place the brass rivets. Once all of the assembly and sanding was done, I soaked the handle in butcher block oil for 15 minutes or so, then wiped off the excess and let it rest for a couple of days. I’m pleased with the outcome. This fillet knife is one of my favorite kitchen tools, and I’d been without it for a while now. Glad that it’s home. Ciao!

Spring Snows

Yep. On the day that encompassed the Spring Equinox, we had an inch of snow. Lovely, really. More to the point, it never really shifted over to warmer rain and melt away before Spring proper. So, Winter, still, then. Lovely. A couple of school districts closed, several were delayed by a couple of hours (until the snow started falling … odd, that), but other than that, nothing too exciting.

My week was full of working each day on things that I hadn’t planned on doing. Like most weeks, really. The weekend, though, went exactly as planned. Several hours of remote work getting things done, and the balance of the time in the basement, helping Marcia move stuff back in, or building additional bits for storage of stuff for Marcia’s sewing room. Pictures when it’s done – now it is a right mess.

*      *      *

Gladly, still no new casualties reported by DoD since 14 December 2014. Ciao!

Making Do…

Sewing room, reassembling

Sewing room, reassembling

I’m still recovering from a weekend of painting and remote work … but Marcia’s sewing room is coming back together. Saturday I did the walls and bulkheads, cutting in by hand then rolling out the flats. Sunday, after several hours of remote work, I crawled about on the floor, painting the trim. Sunday evening, I moved some of the cabinets in, and started moving in tables and equipment. Marcia’s happy, I think. Me? I’m just tired. Sorry for missing last night.

*      *      *

Three months with no casualties reported by DoD. Huzzah!

Ciao!