WEEK 31 2011
Mon- Tue- Wed-
Picture of the Week
17 March 2002
Ago, This Week, 2002
Ago, This Week, 2003
Ago, This Week, 2006
Ago, This Week, 2007
Ago, This Week, 2008
This Week, 2009
This Week, 2010
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.
- 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
- 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
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.
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.
2 August 2011
- 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.
- 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
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.
31 July 2011
- 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 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
I made a Safeway run after arriving. No coffee left, no sandwich meats,
no hot dogs,
no milk, no margarine, no soda...you 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.