Monday, May 28, 2007

Slacker's Writing Corner

Forgive me father for I have sinned. It has been eight days since my last blog post.

Hey, I was busy! OK?

All through the week I was busily (got that, busily) working on the pool heating system of doom. So now at long last, it's operational. Note I said operational, not completely finished. Looky here:
The miracle you see here only leaks a little. And there is still a truckload of crap to haul off to fill in the various cracks in the Earth near here. With some sorting, the concrete and used wood can go to recycling and there isn't too much else. Does anyone need about 80 feet of used (read; funky) 2 inch PVC pipe?

On a technical level, the original goal of reducing system pressure was a success. I lowered it by about 1/3. I was ecstatic. This was achieved by getting the system off of the roof so the water didn't have to be lifted there, and by eliminating the aforementioned 80 feet of pipe and a buttload of two inch elbows (There's a visual for you) that had been used to make all the funky angle turns up and over the roof. Now we have plenty of flow and that will improve all the things that DIY'er pool owners lose sleep over. The panels are also in full sun longer for even more deliciously warm water.

After a couple of leak fixes, a little paint, and a bit of bamboo screening I can call it really done, or as done as outdoor projects really get. Don't let me forget to patch all the little holes in the roof from the old mounting system.

Oh yeah, I went to work all week too. And we all moved our offices, and I learned even more about all of my coworkers' personalities.

Then on Friday, we went out for a Liquor Cabinet meeting where the ruling elite of Otherbookistan discuss matters of state. Here is a shot of the Empress, Emperor, and Prime Minister (or something like that) at our first stop, The Holy Grail pub in SF.
We had a great time there and then we wandered a couple of blocks to take in Tommy's Joint (an SF Landmark) where we regaled each other with tales from the empire.

Today (Monday) we went to a memorial for Ray. Usually this sort of gathering is attended by a few tens of people. Not for Ray thank you very much. The entire theatre was filled, about 700 seats and the celebration of all of the goodness that Ray had brought took about three and a half hours. It was really great to see how much joy one person can bring. Amazing really.

Last but most importantly, we shared our 23'rd wedding anniversary this weekend. I could say all sorts of mushy stuff here but I will save it for my sweetie.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Step away from the meme

A couple of my friends did this meme and I'm so self centered that I have to do it as well even though I wasn't officially tagged.

The Rules:
1. Each player starts with 7 - 8 random facts/habits about themselves.

2. People who are tagged write a blog post about their own 7 - 8 random things and post these rules.

3. At the end of your blog you need to tag 7 - 8 people and post their names.

4. Don’t forget to leave them a comment and tell them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

So here is my attempt at interesting content with this one.

1. I straighten and re-stack items like canned goods in stores when I shop because the un-straight items bother me greatly. Similarly, I will consolidate the "orphaned" items displayed in multiple opened cartons in Costco so that they are all in one open carton. Then I stack up the empty cartons.

2. When I am buying multiples of items, I highly prefer to buy in even numbers. For example, I would never buy three cans of soup. I would buy four instead.

3. When I moved out of the house at eighteen, I created a list of my own recipes that were unintentionally and excruciatingly lame. The most famous was "cold tacos" that featured uncooked tortillas, grated cheese, and bologna. I still get fan mail about that one.

4. I have had some bad luck with getting cuts from glass; twice involving emergency rooms.

5. My parents enlisted the help of my best friend in seventh grade to keep me from building a mini bike. They were going to surprise me with one for Christmas. It went so far that he was telling me white lies about helping me gather parts to slow down my progress.

6. I sent my mom to the thrift store to buy me mechanical things to take apart. I would re-purpose the parts to make nearly useless stuff. In one case I used a phonograph motor (the shaded pole AC variety) to hold a plastic coffee can lid onto which I attached a piece of paper. When it spun you could draw on the paper with colored pens and make neat patterns. (I know this item refers to some pretty old technology like phonographs and canned coffee but you'll just have to get over that.)

7. The first time I parallel parked a car, in driver training the very first time I ever drove, I parked about four inches from the curb, parallel to the curb. The teacher was impressed.

I tag all of you. If you don't already have a blog, now is your chance to start one.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day

To all of you who are mothers, happy Mother's Day! To all of the rest of you, you'll need to have some kids, wait for father's day, or just wait until some other holiday comes rolling around. Don't fret, the calendar is full of them.

While you are waiting, let me tell you a little about my mom, since it is Mother's Day after all.

My mom started out being a mom earlier than most moms nowadays. By the time she was 23 she had all three of us kids already.

Before she was a mom she had a much younger brother that helped her get ready for doing mom kinds of things. He once asked her (his artistic big sister) to draw him a chicken. Grandma always bought extra chicken legs because the legs were a popular part at the dinner table. So mom drew a chicken with four legs. We always laughed about that.

Mom was pretty cute back in 56!

When I was growing up Mom was always helping other kids, kids that really needed some help. Like Susie from across the street. I'll never forget hearing Susie say, "Mrs. Collier, learn me to cook." Mom helped Derek too. Derek was a kid in my class with a bad bullying problem. I think it was because he was really mad about how little his family had and how messed up his life was. I don't think his dad was around and he lacked discipline in a big way. The poor kid. He was angry, black, and poor in 1966. Mom offered to take him out of class one day so he could let off steam. She offered to take him anywhere he wanted to go. He wanted to see race cars. Back in the day there was a drag racing place in San Jose. Mom took him there. I remember once there were a handful of neighbor kids in the kitchen making paper mache puppets with mom.

Then a lot of time went by.

We all grew up and everyone moved out of the house and Dad passed away. Mom had moved far to the north. We didn't see each other very much at all. We still don't.

That's all for now. I'll finish the story later.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Build Gates

It took all day but I went from two posts 87-7/8 inches apart and three sixteen foot pressure treated 2x4s to these nifty gates, sans grape stakes. The first picture is the plan.

As you can see, the yard behind is still littered with junk. And no, the gates do not have an umbrella coming up from the middle. That's just the way the shot got framed.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Ex Post Facto

When we put the pool in I built a fence around it. Twelve years later I decided it needed to be changed. Apparently when I put in the posts I used lots of concrete. Stupid twit. So I had to take out six posts. Ladies, this is way effing harder than frogging the last twenty rows. Anyway, the first post came out with a huge amount of huffing and puffing, a splintered post, and a pile of concrete crumbs. The second one was better, but still involved a sledgehammer and LOTS of sweating. On the third one I made a contraption using a hydraulic jack to lift the post out a little bit at a time. That was better, but still took a long time and involved lots of kneeling on the ground and bending over awkwardly. On the fourth one I used the same contraption but I put the rig up on some sawhorses. This was better yet, but still took a long time. The stroke of the jack (stop giggling) was largely taken up in bending all the parts and the lifting effect was limited by the lever arm of the contraption...

So today for post #5 and #6 I used a more direct lifting method which you see here. This is post #6, where I had finally perfected my kludge:

After Andy saw this he said, you need an engine hoist.


I went home early from work today to look after the wee one, not feeling to wonderful. He just finished a whole can of chicken noodle soup. Then he asked me to buy him a Nintendo Wii. For the price it should change the oil in your car automatically in addition to playing games.

I suppose I'll go back to working on the fence.

Monday, May 07, 2007

This is a knitting blog

Unlike some people knit who with yarn, I use old redwood which stands up to the weather better than kidsmack but it's pretty darn scratchy.

I specialize in making a mess.

Each little board takes two nails and gets you two little inches of fence.

I would try explaining all of these pictures but suffice to say that I'm not done yet. The hard part is that I am using all the existing grape stakes that make up the fence itself (to save big bucks) which means that I have to take apart some fence to build some fence, and taking apart is almost as hard as putting together. All of this and every day I need to end with the yard actually enclosed since the yard contains my pool and I don't want anyone drowning.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Oops, forgot to blog

The weekend was fun. We went to the Vic Pic (Victorian picnic) with our Otherbookistani buddies. There was eating and drinking and lots of laughing and croquet and eating and drinking. We also took pictures. Looky here.

Then I worked more on the fence. Holy crap this is hard work. You'd think I was building an ark or something. On Sunday I built the frame part on the posts that I had put in before, but only on one side. That side is 28 feet long. In the last couple of days I actually managed to install about 14 feet of the grape stakes that are the fence boards. Each one is about two inches wide so that is 84 boards, some of which have to be cut shorter to fit around the trees.

At this pace I'm sure I'll be done by Christmas. I promise I'll have some pictures soon.