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.

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!