sailing the NorSea


WEEK 31 2011

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Saturday 6 August 2011
Saturday - working away on this and that. Started putting bark into the retaining wall, and backfilling. Hot and tiring work. About eight hours worth. It's going to look OK.

I left the weedblock cloth long, because the earth and bark will settle in the next couple of weeks, as it already has in the previous section. I've been letting new timber for the lower section season a bit in the sun. The older wall doesn't have a cap, but if I add a cap then I don't have to do as much excavation of earth and old bark and gravel. I've nowhere to put it, and no wheelbarrow to move it with, so that's actually a serious consideration.

The bark I chose is a natural color, unlike my brother's dyed red bark. It's not as pretty, but shouldn't fade. It's also about half the price.

Tile for the stove side is an issue. There is about 1.5" of missing material. Tile comes in 2" squares, plus you'd need another 1/4" for grout. So I'm sticking out 3/4" of an inch. I guess I could add a 1/2" piece of plywood to the side of the cabinet. There is room to move the stove sideways. Lowe's had a piece of tile designed as a chair rail piece that was 1.5", but the finish really didn't match the existing almond very well. Anything would be better than what is there.

Book #90 was Temporary Duty, by Ric Locke. Enjoyable SciFi.

Friday 5 August 2011
Friday - Did more assembly of the front yard retaining walls. Coated with redwood stain, which turned out to be very, very, dark when it dried. Not at all like the barn red stain on the older, lower, retaining wall. Hmm. In a dim light it looks about the same shade as the dark brown deck paint. Did some other miscellaneous items, including putting a cover plate on an exterior outlet for one thing. I'd forgotten all about it, until I was wandering around the back yard looking at things, and realized "Dang, I never did put a cover plate on that exterior GFI outlet!". This being summer in California it wasn't an issue, but come winter some damage might have been done.

Bought more bark, some tile bits to try out in the kitchen, some more tile to put around the shower head pipe in the bath, deck screws and lag screws, a piece of cornice molding, and measured up some of the rear retaining wall stuff. It's a mess back there, but it's the last remaining BIG job (I hope). V came by and painted the rear bedroom, a warm task during the day.

V came up and shortened the new blinds to fit the windows. There are these little plastic nub's in the lower rail that can be removed, then you can remove individual blind planks until the right height is found, then you reattach the bottom rail. My brother's had installed six new blinds, but didn't resize them. Then she painted the rear bedroom with the Swiss Coffee. I was a little startled, it took most of an entire gallon of paint. I suppose the texture material absorbed a lot.

I told V I'd come down to Fremont and check on her water heater, if it goes out again, and if she'd clear away all the thistle's around it. Not much I can really do if the controller is indeed shot. The PG&E tech told her it was a $200 item, which sounds a bit high to me. I wonder if you have to get a unit for that specific make and model of water heater? She says it's the new electronic sparker type of pilot.

Another 8 hours plus of work.

Book #89 was The Ice Diaries: The Untold Story of the Cold War's Most Daring Mission, by Cpt. William R. Anderson. When I was a wee lad I wanted nothing more than to be a submariner, and my fascination with the subject has never quite waned. So, upon seeing this book available for the Kindle, it was ordered and delivered in a few seconds.

This is an in depth follow up to the author's Nautilus 90 North, written many years ago. At the height of the Cold War, after Sputnik, when the  "Our Rockets Always Blow Up!" fiasco was going on ,Anderson took the first nuclear submarine, the Nautilus, under the arctic ice pack, from the Bering Sea to Greenland. There was a great deal of opposition and infighting not detailed in that early book; from those who derided it as a stunt (first sub to the North Pole) and those that recognized the dangers - had the Nautilus had trouble up there there was very little that could have been done - and the Arctic has historically been the grave of many a well equipped naval mission, even before the ill-fated Franklin expedition.

But the president, Eisenhower, recognized the cold war shock to the Soviet Union of a submarine just a few hundred miles from their landmass, and of the political theater & reassurance to the American people in being the first to make the underwater Northwest Passage and first to the pole.

He gave the OK, and after several tries the Nautilus made the voyage, and Anderson and the crew were lionized upon their safe arrival in the Atlantic. It wasn't an arduous trip, but navigation was tricky (both gyroscope and magnetic compasses have problems in the Arctic), the ice was much thicker than expected, and the ocean floor much shallower - at some points in the Bering Sea they had probably less than 10 feet clearance between the two. In an early voyage they got seriously lost under the ice and damaged the sub's sail and both periscope's against the ice.

A good yarn, recommended.

Thursday 4 August 2011

Thursday - put the concrete in around the posts, and did some other chores - texturing the back room for example. The walls in there look OK, but I'm not really happy with the finish on the ceiling. Not much to be done about it though, the little aerosol cans didn't want to spray upwards.

My sister came by around lunchtime and I took the afternoon off. We had lunch down on Main Street, in a little open air Mexican joint. Nice. She said her water heater had gone out again. Not good. It's only about 3 years old so it may be in warranty still.

Wednesday 3 August 2011

Wednesday  - A long day, about ten hours. I got carried away, wanted to get things done. Kind of hot again out front, but I was digging post holes with a hand trowel and small shovel (there's a gas line somewhere under there, as I said), and it took forever. Then I measured and cut the PT wood, and partially fastened it together. Then I had to stop, pretty tired, and went to bed at 8pm. Sheesh.

Book #88 was Full Share, by Nathan Lowell. This is the third in the saga of one Ishmael Wang, a merchant ship (spaceship) crewman. No aliens, no blasters, but a bit of adventure and romance none-the-less.

Tuesday 2 August 2011

Tuesday - About 8 hours, excavating and laying things out in a rough way. Nothing else in the yard is straight or level, so my straight and level planter/retaining wall is going to look a bit odd. Not much to be done about it. I worked until early afternoon, then broke for lunch.

There was a nice breeze, and I had the front and back doors open for ventilation. So a bird flew in the back door, flew through the house, almost landed on my head in the front room, decided better, and flew out the front door. Weird.

Moved furniture and stuff out of the back bedroom, removed wall plates and taped the trim off. Tomorrow it will get some texturing spray, then a coat of the standard Swiss Coffee Interior Flat.

Monday 1 August 2011

Monday - My sister called about 9am and left a message, said PG&E came by and re-lit her heater first thing in the morning. Apparently the vents at the bottom were covered up. One chore and drive I won't have to do.

Working away on repairs to the remaining old section of retaining wall in the front yard. It's a weird area, and I spent a lot of time just staring at it and trying to figure out how to handle it. It slants down, it necks down, part of it is under the front stairs,and not particularly visible or even accessible, and somewhere under there the gas line is buried (probably shallowly), and this is all at the turn from the wood steps to the original concrete steps. It's a slightly hazardous drop off, and I'd like to put some sort of railing thing there, but the concrete is actually in the way of installing a post at the corner proper. Maybe I'll just attach a post to an extension of the retaining wall. Not optimal, but but time and materials budget is pretty limited.

I was going to backfill and put in paver's, but think I'll just go with more bark - cheaper, lighter, faster.

A foraging trip to Home Depot bought some more bark, some more pressure treated 2x6's, some more deck screws, some beige paint for the porch, and some redwood stain.

After 8 hours I called it a day. Last trip I overdid it, and my hands were too swollen and sore to do much work by the end of the week. I'll try to pace myself. I'm not sure what to do with myself for all that time in the evening. Blogging doesn't take all that time, and I didn't bring any DVD's. Guess I should have waited to quit NetFlix disks until after this trip.

Book #87 was John Scalzi's Fuzzy Nation. This is a "reboot" of the H. Beam Piper Little Fuzzy franchise. Scalzi's an amusing author, whose character dialog snaps. A fun read.

Sunday 31 July 2011

Sunday - Headed north in the late morning. The weather is still hot and humid, dark clouds and some small sprinkles as I packed the Explorer.

The central valley was hot, but not as hot/humid as Lancaster. There was a moderate amount of traffic, but I defied the purported "1-Hour Slowdown" traffic-alert billboards on the I-5, and it was OK, more like five-ten minutes. Essentially they've necked the freeway down to a single lane in each direction, for about 3.5 miles. The busiest north-south artery in the state, and no-body was working on the weekend.

The house looks about the same in Lancaster. I'd hoped my brother's would get more done, but things are what they are. About 80F, which is tolerable.

I made a Safeway run after arriving. No coffee left, no sandwich meats, no hot dogs, no milk, no margarine, no get the idea. You know, for the time and labor I'm putting in other people could occasionally stock the larder, but again, things are what they are.

My sister was going to stop by, but decided to go to a movie with friends. She asked if I could stop by her house in Fremont and check on her water heater tomorrow, and I agreed to check on it.

Picture of the Week
East Brothers Island Light House
Photo Notes: A Study in Black and White, Cayucos Ca., 2011.

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