Archive for August, 2012

Off to the Fair

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Off to take the kids to the fair for the rides.

And the food.

UPDATE:

Ugh. 11 hours later, I’m finally home. Right now, I’ll be happy to not see another fair ride until next year. I never thought the kids would last on the rides for 6 hours. But they did, and would have lasted longer as well.

1 for 4

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Until this morning, the lass had woken up in an abysmal mood. She was short tempered, uncooperative and generally not a child anyone in the house wanted to be around.

After I returned from bringing them to school yesterday, I told the Wife that I’d be damned if I was going to have to put up with that behavior all year. We sent her to bed early last night and told her we’d continue to do so until her morning behavior improved. Our rationale was that the long day meant she was too tired and therefore she needed more sleep.

She pushed back, worried that she’d never have a normal bedtime. I said she’d go to bed at a normal time as soon as her morning behavior improved. Next, she blamed her morning moods on not being used to getting up so early. I laughed at that and told her she’d been up all Summer long at the same time and hadn’t been unpleasant in the mornings. She considered this, then asked me “Why was I able to be in a good mood during the Summer, but not now?

I chuckled at this and as I left her room last night, told her she should ponder that question.

So this morning, she was good enough that she didn’t earn herself another early bedtime.

The boy, on the other hand…

The Armoire Ends

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Here’s my first, ever, entry on the armoire, appropriately titled to boot. The most interesting thing is the date: September 27th, 2009. That means it took me 3 year to finish this project.

On the one hand, I’m glad because where projects are concerned, a former colleague of mine had a simple theory: The longer a project takes to complete, the more unlikely it is to be completed. He may have been speaking about engineering projects at a company, but I think he also meant it in a general sense. I’m glad this ended up being an exception.

So why did it take so long?

Looking back, I seem to have finished the dresser portion of the project by April 2010, including finish and hardware. So, roughly, 7 months of on and off work which entailed the carcass complete with mortise and tenon joinery and floating panel construction, 3 large dovetail drawers and the top with trim.

The next post is in June of 2011! Then, not again until August of 2011. That was just prior to my elbow injury and I then have a post for March of this year when I finally got back to it. (Amusingly, I see I was thinking of my colleague’s theory even then!) From there, I worked slowly and steadily until yesterday.

Leaving out the 6 months lost due to my injury and recovery, the biggest mistake was in underestimating what it would take to complete construction of the cabinet. I remember thinking it was simply a matter of building up the sides and doors, with a couple of shelves thrown in and some kind of molding to trim out the top. There were, in fact, a lot of details that I completely glossed over. My miscalculation was apparent in my own plans as well. I’d drawn up plans for the dresser portion in great detail, thinking out all of the little gotcha’s and pitfalls. For the cabinet, I barely drew up any plans at all.

So therein, I’d say, lies learning point 1 for a project- design the whole thing, even if it can be neatly divided into 2 separate stages. Also, I think it was a mistake to divide it into 2 stages. Had I possessed a completed design, I could have been finishing 8 legs, and 4 sides at one time and avoided unnecessary retooling for the same basic mortise and tenon construction and floating panel construction. Of course, room would have become an issue in the garage, but my time management would have been more efficient. But all that hinges on my having a completed design from which to work.

Another mistake, which ties into the previous one, is to not underestimate the scope of the project. I had a good idea with the dresser portion, reflected in my detailed planning and steady progress. But thinking of the cabinet as “just a box” put me in the mindset that it would be trivial to whip up, and as I realized such was not the case, I became discouraged and kept putting off design decisions.

A few other things I liked, and didn’t, about the finished result:

  1. The finish is Waterlox which I rubbed, rather than brushed on. I thought it came out just shy of spectacular. In between coats, I took the time to sand (600 grit wet/dry) and wipe down everything. It made a huge difference in the finished product. I also took the time to make sure all surfaces were properly prepped prior to finishing, because the finish stage is just that, a finish. It’s not a chance to hide mistakes or blemishes.

  2. In general, I was happy with the joinery results. The dovetailing I already documented thoroughly, but the mortise and tenon joinery was everywhere: the doors, the cabinets- sides (4) and back (2). That joinery is key to the whole thing because if it isn’t executed well, then the whole thing starts to fall apart. I can say that after nearly 3 years, the dresser is still solid as ever and when I placed the cabinet on top, there were no problems with rocking or wobbliness. Also, I was alway checking for square by measuring diagonals; my biggest out of square measurement was by 1/8″ over a 4 foot span.

  3. The eyebrow on the doors was a nice touch, so too the large cove molding. The design is almost all straight lines. The couple of curves gave it just enough variation to make it visually interesting.

  4. I though the use of the cherry was well executed. In general, I used lots of cathedral grain for all the panels. The only one I strayed from that was the rear panel on the cabinet- which won’t be seen much anyway. For the doors, the rails and stiles are straight grained pieces, suited to there construction needs. Along these lines, the quiet maple serves nobly as the weight-bearing wood, nicely contrasted with the flamboyant cherry.

  5. I don’t like how the top of the cabinet came out, entirely. Mostly, this is due to construction decisions that made it difficult to figure out how to mount the top. Also, the cove molding could have been made a little different to make it easier to mount up there. This one goes back to the “design the whole thing” mistake.

  6. The Blum drawer slides and the SOSS hidden hinges were kludges to make up for the fact that I hadn’t properly accounted for all my design decisions. I’ve talked about the Blum slides (bottom line: if using Blum slides, design with the selected slides from the start and follow their guidelines) in previous posts, but the hinges were a problem because the doors are inset and recessed. Having the recessed doors and using those hinges also means the door don’t swing 180 degrees, only the 90 or so from the close position.

  7. Going back to the cabinet top, I ended up using screws to anchor it into place. I don’t like that one bit, but it was a necessity at that point.

And with that, so ends the armoire project.

The Finished Armoire Project

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Here it is, finished and assembled in it resting place.

I actually have quite a few thoughts I wanted to put down, but not now. Too tired. I’ll revisit it again tomorrow after enjoying the fact that I completed the project at long last.

FDOS

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Nothing much to report about the kid’s first day back. It wasn’t as awful as they thought (hoped) and they were basically smiles when they got home. Lots of paperwork to fill out along the lines of “What’s your child like?” and “Help me understand your child better.” They’ve even prepared their snacks for lunch tomorrow.

As for me, it was nice having a full day. I spent the morning in a martial arts lesson and then the afternoon putting another finish coat on the armoire. While on the subject, I expect to be finishing it, completely, tomorrow. The only catch will be whether the Wife and I can get the cabinet up the stairs. There’s a decent chance of managing it because I can strip the shelves, top and doors off; which still leaves a lot of weight, but it’s manageable.

My respite will be short lived, though. Cub Scouts is gearing up; I’ll probably be doing some tutoring; and I’ve got lots of projects to make progress on. Should be an interesting year for us all.

It’s All Over

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Summer vacation for the kids that is. Right now.

Yes, I’m smiling.

Wanting Emotional Satisfaction and Not Getting It

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This morning actually started last night.

We spent the day yesterday running around, basically. I had Cub Scout duties as well as landlord duties. For the Scouts, I was picking up popcorn for the Fall fundraiser and my landlord duties involved checking out the installation of a new floor in the kitchen of our rental. I got back around lunch time. The Wife, for her part, took the lass to sign her up for this year’s dance lessons.

The rest of the afternoon we spent at a local fair.

We got home and lazed the rest of the day away. The kids weren’t hungry, so I eventually just made the Wife and I a simple dinner.

Shortly after that, the lass put in her breakfast order- she wanted potato pancakes.

Shortly after that, the Wife informed me that we’d be making blueberry pancakes in the morning because the blueberries were starting to show their age.

Shortly after that, I decided I’d cook bacon. Yum.

One thing about the lass is that once she makes up her mind about something, she’s not shy about reminders. Constant, reminders. So it was for the remainder of the evening, with a final “Remember Dad, we’re having potato pancakes for breakfast tomorrow.”

When I came downstairs, this morning, both kids were already up and watching cartoons. The lass waited about 5 seconds and then asked when I would start making the potato pancakes.

At this point, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that she was disappointed by the blueberry pancakes that we made.

Actually, disappointed is what happens when you call heads and it comes up tails. Disappointed is what happens when you don’t win the Sweepstakes.

The lass, upon seeing that she would not be eating potato pancakes for breakfast, threw her arms into the crossed position, harrumphed loud enough to wake the dead, then stomped off towards her room.

“I will not dignify that with a response,” I told the Wife. She harrumphed in agreement. I smiled inside.

As it turned out, the lass never went to her room. Instead, arms still folded and a scowl etched into her face she stalked back into the kitchen. She made the grunting noise she typically does when she’s upset.

Still, we ignored her.

She then picked up her brother’s inflatable bat that he’d won at the fair yesterday and started futzing with it. I told her to stop, since it wasn’t her bat. Finally having received some attention, she looked at me and said “I’m not having that.” She also put the bat down.

We didn’t respond to that either.

By this point, the boy was wolfing down his 4th or 5th pancake, along with some strips of bacon. The Wife had several more pancakes cooked up and ready to go. The lass moved in and sat at the breakfast bar. She told us “I didn’t want blueberry pancakes, I wanted potato pancakes.”

Still, the Wife and I ignored her.

After several more seconds, during which I snorked a couple pieces of bacon and the boy continued to destroy pancakes and the Wife continued cooking up more pancakes, she got down from her stool and stalked around to where the Wife was. She not-so-delicately inserted herself into the area and said “What, am I supposed to eat these without syrup or something?”

The audacity of 6, in all it’s glory.

The Wife informed her that the pile of pancakes the lass had taken were for anyone who wanted them, so nothing had been done to them. If the lass wanted some of them, she was welcome to her own plate and to prepare the pancakes however she’d like.

Without another word, the lass prepared herself a plate of pancakes. Then, quietly, went back to her seat on the breakfast bar.

She ate, without further complaint.

Hilarious Opening Line

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Here’s the opening line of a post up at PFT:

One of the most-hyped preseason games in recent memory didn’t really live up to its billing.

What “hyped” game is he talking about? Why, it’s between the Colts and the Redskins. And why is it “hyped”? Because Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin are playing against each other. You know, the two QB’s with all the Super Bowls, MVP’s and NFL passing records between them…

Seriously, 2 rookie QB’s without a single regular season passing yard to their credit and who we won’t even know if they’re any good until the season is over, yet this is some hyped game? Actually, it will likely take until their 3rd season before either of them can come into their own and can be evaluated properly. Oh, and did I mention that this was a preseason game? A time that’s essentially meaningless with regards to the regular season?

I know Florio needs to drive eyeballs to his sight, but this is pathetic. Stupidity like this creates more pressure than is necessary for these guys to deal with. Plus, the guys at PFT have been hyping these 2 QB’s ever since the college season ended to the point where you’d half expect they’ll be vying to compete in a Super Bowl against each other at the end of the year, one with a league MVP trophy in tow. In 4 weeks when both of them are getting plastered by defenses, I’m sure we can expect some real sharp “What happened?” style posts from the brilliant analysts at PFT.

Maybe they should write up another concussion post or something so we can know that football is a really rough game.

Neil Armstrong- 1930-2012 RIP

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Obviously, he was a bit before my time, but everyone knows him and his famous moment and line. It seems inappropriate to not mark his passing.

Here’s a nice writeup about him.

Armstrong Stripped of Tour de France Victories

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The USADA has stripped Armstrong of his titles and banned him for future cycling competition for good. Armstrong was up against a deadline and decided he would not fight the charges, though he hasn’t admitted guilt.

Count me as one who has believed for a long time that Armstrong is guilty of doping. That said, after reading though this over at Deadspin, I think this whole thing stinks to high heaven. You really do have to read through it to get a feel, but apparently the evidence was so flimsy that it the federal investigation was turned over to the USADA, whom apparently has lower hurdles. Generally, it comes down to who to believe, the cheaters who testified against him or the 7-time Tour winner. It certainly stretches the “presumption of innocence” concept.

On the one hand, I have to wonder why this was ever a federal matter to begin with. Doesn’t the federal government have more interesting things to do than investigate a cyclist? Isn’t that what the cycling bodies are for? And if the federal government couldn’t get the evidence together, why should we suddenly believe it just because some other government agency says it’s good enough?

As I said, I think he’s guilty of doping but the amount of effort to prove it seems like it’s gone beyond reasonable bounds. Sometimes, the best that can be done is to drop an issue, as there’s no way for either side to win. In this case, I think everyone knows Armstrong cheated and that he was exceptional at hiding it, so he’s lost on that front already. The government stands to lose as well, by chasing down a private citizen over what, from a government standpoint, should amount to piffle- a bike race.

Let’s just move on.

The Kids Rough House

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So the boy and the lass are rough housing on the floor for awhile. They’ve got some kind of game going involving the dogs and trying to keep each other from touching the dogs, or something like that.

When they rough house like that, the same thing happens every time: someone gets dinged. Ninety percent of the time, it’s the lass. Though every now and again the boy will smack his head on something.

Time was when I, or the Wife, would warn them off that something would happen. We’ve long since given up on that because it’s easier to talk a wall down than get them to listen. It never did anything that frustrate us anyway. I’ve even begun rationalizing that it’s good to let them suffer the consequences of their actions, whatever they might be.

So today, when I heard the whine start from the lass, I knew that it was just about over. The boy hadn’t caught on yet and was still hauling on her. But when he finally let go, she got up and continued her pre-tear ritual and came running up to me. I was dealing with laundry at the time.

“Dad, I…” was all she got out before I cut her off without looking at her.

“Unless it’s bleeding or broken, I don’t want to hear about it,” I stated flatly. I wasn’t going to play referee or scold the boy when 10 seconds earlier they were both giving and getting consensually.

She hovered there for a few seconds, then the boy came over and started hauling on her again. The game was back on.

TA-DA!

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I still have to put the final coats of finish on it. And get it upstairs. And put the handles on the doors. And shim the doors so they hang properly. And attach the top securely to the cabinet (right now it’s just resting there). And mount the cabinet to the dresser that’s been waiting for it for over 2 years now.

But other than that, yeah. It’s done.

Good News for Cowboy Fans

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Right here. The short of it is that Jason Witten won’t need surgery to repair his rupture spleen. He may miss the opener, but he won’t miss much more than that.

Interesting Read

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Here’s an interesting interview with a PR guy for professional athletes.

A sample:

Questioner: Is there a direct correlation between an athlete’s alma mater and the amount of illegitimate children they conceive?

AnonymousPRGuy: Of course. Damn the SEC

and:

Questioner: How has High school recruiting changed the way you do your job?

AnonymousPRGuy: None. I don’t go after college kids. Too many scumbags and sleazeballs to compete with. But I will say – high school sports are dirtier than pro sports, both from a money and a steroid-usage level.

Duck!

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Sometimes, parenting it blissfully easy.

I spent the late afternoon spreading the remainder of the river rock. The kids, once again, attempted to aid me. They were somewhat less enthusiastic than on Friday. Not surprising since this time they knew what they were in for.

So anyway, while I’m loading up another bucket with rock, I hear the boy tell the lass “Duck!”

So I glance over and the boy is standing on the edge of the area where the rock has been spread with a bucket that appears to be mostly empty. He’s holding the bucket by the blue handle with his right hand.

The lass is standing out in the area where the rock has been spread. She just dumped a bucketful of rocks and was heading back to either look like she was loading another bucket, or give it that old 6-year-old try.

“Duck!” the boy said again, and then he kind of flung the bucket up and out. There was a little rock still in it. Rather than reach in with his other hand and remove it, he was trying to launch it from the bucket. Fortunately, the bucket was spinning wildly on the handle pivots and the rock didn’t go anywhere.

As he loaded for a second try, no doubt more attuned to keeping the bucket from spinning around as he flung it, I said simply “That’s a really bad idea.”

The boy looked over at me for a moment. I stood there, one hand on the shovel, sweating and tired, and looked back at him silently.

He reached into the bucket, pulled the stone out and dropped it onto the other stones. Then, he returned to loading his bucket.

And that’s how an emergency trip to the dentist was avoided today.

Sleeping Weather

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The kids slept 12 hours last night, neither of them getting up until after 8 o’clock. Which makes complete sense when factoring in that school starts next week and they’ll have to be up around 6:30 in order to have time to get ready. It makes even more sense when considering they haven’t slept past 7 all Summer long.

I’m not ready to say the Summer is over, but the cooler, dryer nights are definitely a welcome change.

Finishing the Armoire

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I’m finally finishing the armoire. Literally.

When last I’d reported, I’d finished making some cove molding to be used to trim out the top of the cabinet. Since then, I’ve also fashioned some extra pieces of trim as well as glued up the wood to make the top.

So today, I finally started applying finish to the cabinet. So far, I’ve only done the panels and the doors. I’m holding off on the maple posts and other pieces until I finish fitting everything together. It’s been a bit tricky securing the cove molding to the top as well as the cabinet. All those angles make things a bit difficult.

I also ran into trouble with the top. The boards I used to glue it up weren’t perfect, so the finished surface was less than perfect as well. Keeping mind that it’s about 4 feet long and 2 feet wide, it has a small twist in it so the molding doesn’t sit flush on it. I could have forced the trim to conform to the top, but I opted for a different approach. I’m trying to use the varnish to reduce the cupping in the board before attaching the cove molding to it. I’ll be curious to see if it works.

I’ll post pics when I’ve finished assembling the top.

Long Day

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Well, we went out and did our best to help the economy today. We hit the retail, the restaurant, and the construction sectors, to name a few. Now I’m ready to climb into bed.

But before I do, I wanted to highlight this comment regarding the whole “You didn’t build it” brouhaha. Frankly, I’ve wondered why that statement hasn’t been properly hit out of the park like this fellow did.

(hattip: Instapundit)

There’s No Figuring Them Out

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My latest landscaping project involves a patch of our yard that we haven’t known what to do with for awhile. It’s a small area on the north side of the house, so it doesn’t get much Sun. Thus, not much grass grows there. But weeds grow there just fine. It also gets beat up quite a bit as all our cord wood is stacked in that area as well. For the most part, in the Summer it’s a weedy mess and the rest of the year it’s a muddy mess.

So I finally decided to act to improve it. Yesterday, I laid down about 600 square feet of weed cloth, after weed whacking the snot out of the entire area. I also cleaned it all up from the shards of wood and various other things that had collected there over time. I spent the afternoon getting the area prepped and then most of this morning putting a rock wall edging in place.

All of that was in preparation for today when, this afternoon, 4 tons of large river rock was dropped in our driveway. The rocks are all smooth and round and vary in size from large golf balls to squished baseballs. I had originally hoped the driver would be able to drop the stone over the edge of our driveway onto the destination patch of yard. That way the remainder of the project would be spreading stone instead of hauling stone.

Unfortunately, things didn’t work out that way and now I’m hauling stone.

Surprisingly, the boy and the lass decided to pitch in and help. So we all worked together scooping stones into buckets. I scooped stone into a two-and-a-half gallon bucket; the boy scooped stone into a large beach bucket and the lass scooped stone into a small beach bucket. Each bucket appropriately sized for it’s user. I used a square shovel to fill the bucket, the boy used a smaller spade shovel, and the lass used a plastic beach shovel.

I kid you not.

The shovels didn’t last long for the kids though. After it started getting difficult, they decided the best thing was to sit on top of the pile of stone and fill their respective buckets by hand. This arrangement also afforded them with plenty of opportunity for messing with each other. One would make a cave, and then the other would sabotage the work by causing a collapse. Every now and again, a bucket would get filled and they would dutifully go and dump it in the yard.

They worked like that alongside me for the better part of 2 hours. It was fine by me because I was so exhausted after a bit of hauling that I could care less if they started throwing rocks at one another. As long as the rocks eventually ended up where they were supposed to, it was fine by me; and that many fewer I had to deal with.

They both quit before I did, washing themselves off with the hose before going to cool off in the pool for a bit. I just found it remarkable because we have a hard enough time getting them to clean up their dishes after a meal. Yet here they voluntarily were hauling stone.

The mind boggles.

Good to Know

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I know there was a point where eggs were bad for you. But then, they were good for you again. Then, apparently earlier this week, they were, like, really bad for you. Like the equivalent of smoking cigarettes bad.

But it’s all good again because, eggs are good for you, once again. Details here, with the short version being that the study was not quite so scientific.

This is a huge relief because I’ve been eating a lot of eggs lately.

(hattip: Instapundit)

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