Archive of posts with category 'Insanity'

Icy Wall

I think the pictures below perfectly show why I was concentrating all my tuckpointing repairs on this particular section of my house. I have to work on the gutter this summer to fix this issue. Hopefully, the little bit of tuckpointing that I did will limit the amount of water that gets into the basement. I’m sure that some will get in, but as long as it’s not too much, I should be ok. If it’s a lot, I’m going to have a huge mess to clean up.

Sewing Desk

I’ve been trying to use a bunch of old scraps to make a new table for my sewing machine. I had a lot of great plans for how I was going to do this. And I can also tell you that I failed at most of my plans. But I do have an acceptable table that seems to work. Most of the things that failed were part of my plan to make it easily disassembleable for moving. So that’s ok. I did learn a lot from these failures, so it’s not a big deal. Pictures below. I like it though I haven’t yet done any sewing on it. But it’s a definitely improvement over what I had been using.

No Idea What I'm Doing

I bought an old house, which I love, but which needs a ton of work. And I tend to put things off until they’re really a problem. A few months ago, it rained a lot and there was a lot of water in my basement. After taking a closer look, I’m pretty sure that the problem is due to a leak in my gutter that lets water drip down the side of the house. And this has been happening so long that it has pretty much worn away a lot of the mortar between the bricks. So, my plan, fix the gutter and then repoint the bricks. (*sarcasm)Easy peasy.(*sarcasm)

Still Not Square Part II

I made another box and it’s still not square. Again out of boards I found in my basement. I tried to be a little more artistic with this one. Not perfect, but I’m happy with how it came out. My intent was to have a box to put my off-season clothing in. I’m not planning on going into the box very often. But I found an old hinge in my basement, so I used that for the top.

First Mitered Corner Attempt

Since my corners are not so good, I’ve decided that I need to make around 50 napkins with mitered corners for practice. I found a YouTube Video on Sewing Mitered Corners to try to follow. The pictures below are from my first attempt. It’s lousy. Though I thought I was very careful to iron and measure things. I also took my time and sewed as instructed, but when I tried to lay the seam flat, the mitered corners just didn’t line up properly. So perhaps I need to find a book or something with more detailed instructions. Or I just need to practice and come up with my own system. Anyway, this is why I’m practicing. The other problem I had was that I must have mismeasured something. My intent was to make a 16″ square napkin. I wanted the edge to be 1/2″. And according to the video, I also need an extra 1/2″ folded under first. So I think that means I need an extra 1″ all around. I cut the square at 18″. But when I measured the final napkin, it’s more like 15″ square. So I guess I didn’t measure as perfectly as I thought. Oh well.

My Latest Big Project

My cousin retired and she really likes Dr. Seuss. I came up with an idea for a gift and then I came up with the idea of me making a movie of me making the gift. And then it sort of evolved. This is the final gift.

Living Life

I just realized that this website has been down. I’m not sure how long that’s been true. Probably since I had to reboot after the last round of updates I installed. Is it a big deal to me? Nope.

Time for Change

On October 29, 2013, I bought unlocked iphone 5s for $689.56 plus $99 more for AppleCare. The phone works ok, but the battery wasn’t lasting very long. If I listed to music and tracked my ride to work and then went to the gym after work, it wouldn’t last through a short workout. That seemed pretty short to me, so I bought a new battery from ifixit to replace it. I put it in this morning. First of all, it was a royal pain to take the old battery out because it was basically glued into place with sticky strips. I had to just continually pry around the battery to get it unglued. And while I was prying, I know I cracked some plastic stuff. As far as I could tell, I got everything back together. However, when I turned the phone back on, I got a message that touch id didn’t work and the speaker wasn’t working either. I don’t use touch id at all, so I don’t care about that. The speaker is a bigger deal. I don’t know why it doesn’t work. I’ve taken the phone apart three more times to check all the connections and it still doesn’t work. Most importantly, the phone will no longer take a charge. So it’s basically junk because the battery is now dead. I find this incredibly annoying. I should not break my phone by just changing the battery. I’m done with Apple because this is bs. I’m basically paying $200/year for my phone, not including the service. This to me, is ridiculous. So I’m looking for a new phone. And the primary feature that I’m looking for is repairability. Here’s the list I’m looking at:

My Latest Obsession

In my second summer of gardening, I’m thoroughly enjoying it. This year, in addition to tomatoes and peppers. Ted also gave me some beans, watermelon and pumpkin. And I also had zucchini. The pumpkin was weird. The vine grew like crazy all over the back of my house, but then died for some reason. I ended up getting one pumpkin, about the size of a 16″ softball. It was green when I picked it, but as it’s been sitting on my counter, it’s turning more orange. I picked one small watermelon and there are a couple more still growing. I haven’t yet cut it open to see how it looks or how it tastes. The tomatoes have been reliable. I planted some miniature red peppers and I like eating those the best. There are a lot of green ones out there now, so I think they tend to come a little later in the season than the tomatoes. I got a few good size zucchini. However, after I picked them, the plants seemed to die. Since I think I planted them too close together, I ended up pulling them out last month.

Keyboard not working with old program setup

At work, we use some very old programs. In one program (layout), it opens up the other program (specctra). The weird error was that the keyboard would not work in specctra if it was started from layout. If I started it by itself from the command line, it worked perfectly. I looked at the logs when it started and found a lot of warnings that looked like this:

The Back Part II

On July 21st, I got up as usual and did some stretches for my knee, as I had started doing again a few weeks before, and was putting my shoes on when I felt a sharp pain in my back. I don’t know why, but I do know that I had done this before. So I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. It is now 10 days later and things feel pretty good. I started to be able to do normal things without a ton of pain after about a week. And as I noted in my previous blog post, ice is better than heat. And lying flat on the floor is quite helpful. Though, getting up from lying on the floor is quite painful. But I think it’ll be back to normal after another week. I’m mainly writing this to note how long things take to get better and how often this is happening.

Uninterruptible Sleep

Recently, I’ve upgraded some servers at work to RHEL7. I’ve had a few things that I didn’t plan for, but that’s to be expected when you do a major upgrade and you can’t test everything in advance. However, I have had one issue that is still causing problems. And ironically, it seems to affect my own account the most.

New Big Project

For quite a long time, I have wanted to write a book and try to sell it. For a multitude of reasons, I haven’t. As of yesterday, no more! I signed up for 30×500 to get started. I’m hoping to find out ways to determine if my idea will actually help people, thus making it worth doing. Am I sure about this? Absolutely not. Who do I think I am to write a book? I’m not an expert at anything. It will probably be the worst book ever and will sell zero copies. However, I’ve decided that this is something I want to try. I’ve decided that being afraid of failure is worse than failure itself. I want to give it a try. And the 30×500 class is a way to help me hedge my bets. It cost me $1900 and my goal is to make that back within the next three years. (Official date: March 8, 2020) Doable? I have no idea. But I’m going to put in the work on it. I’ve deleted everyone I follow on Twitter, except people that I know personally. So I shouldn’t be wasting any time there. I’ve also deleted all the bookmarks for blogs I like to read and youtube videos I like to watch. Again to not waste time. Lastly, I’ve created a new account on my laptop to use for studying and writing. So all of the programs and things that I have on my laptop aren’t available to this second account and thus I can’t have them open while I’m working. I’ve created a website for it. http://www.pickabout.com Let’s get started!

Random Thoughts

It’s an early Sunday morning and I’m relaxing with a cup of coffee when I thought I’d post some random thoughts I’ve been having.

Sewing Machines

I took the sewing machine that was given to me in to get tuned up. The repairman called and said it needed a lot of work and that it would cost around $250-$300. For an old sewing machine that I didn’t like all that much, it was too much money. So I let them keep it for whatever parts they could salvage from it. I don’t sew a lot, but it is a tool that I’d like to have. So I’ve been researching sewing machines.

Frustration!

I thought that I would take today and try to finish the curtains that I’m making for my bedroom doors. My mom gave me a new iron, which works fantastically well. I also got an ironing board, which also makes ironing so much easier. So I was making great progress with ironing and sewing the side seams. Then, I ran out of thread on my bobbin. No problem, I thought. I learned how to thread the bobbin a while back and even made a youtube video of it. So I thread the bobbin and get back to work. But I don’t get back to work. For reasons I cannot determine, the machine is not moving the material forward. If I press the reverse button, it goes back with no problem. But it won’t go forward. So I screw around with it for a while. What did I do? No idea, but the material starts to move forward slowly. (Reverse goes backwards much quicker than the material is going forward.) So I try again, but things still aren’t right, as the thread is bunching on the bottom. I remember the rule that thread problems on the top of the seam are usually due to the bobbin and problems on the bottom are usually due to the needle. So I rethread the needle and it’s just not working correctly. By and large, I have a decent amount of patience, but this drained ALL of it. I can guarantee by neighbors heard the slew of obscenties I spewed. I then decided to buy a new sewing machine and started researching them online. This gave me some time for my blood pressure to drop and to calm down.

March Roundup

Pretty uneventful March. I didn’t spend a lot of money, which is good. So I had plenty to save after I paid my bills. The odometer on my car read 36,722 which means I drove 1150 miles in the month. That’s a lot more than I should have. And in looking at my calendar, I know that I drove my car far too much and biked much too little.

The Big Short

I had been wanting to see “The Big Short” for a while. Today, I found that it was still at a theater downtown, so I biked over to see it. Like most people, I pretty much knew the story. I’ve read a bunch of Michael Lewis books, though I can’t remember if I actually read “The Big Short” or just lived through it. Anyway, I thought it would be good and it was. How I judge if a movie is good or not is based on how much I’m thinking about the movie after it’s over. And, let me tell you, all I’ve been thinking about is this movie and I’m completely depressed.

10 years ago

February 25, 2016 was the 10th anniversary of my blog. Technically, it’s the 10th anniversary of my using wordpress on the blog. I believe I registered coldandheartless in 2000, when my nephew was born, though I’m not entirely sure. But since I have pictures from when he was born posted, I’m pretty sure. And I have some pictures in directories named 2003. Yay for me in naming the directories correctly. So I know I had the website before 2006. But moving to wordpress looks to have happened in 2006. So let’s celebrate that.

Getting Started with Ubuntu

Just about all of the linux systems that I work on are a RedHat variant (Scientific Linux or Centos). But in the past few years, more people have been using Ubuntu, so I need to become familiar with it. And yesterday, I had to set up a system to help someone troubleshoot a board that we built. So here are some things about Ubuntu that I’ve learned recently. And just about all of this stuff is done using the command line because that’s how I prefer to work.

It’s Funny

I’m a huge fan of YouTube for learning how to do different things. I’ve been watching tons of YouTube videos for woodworking while I try to build stuff with my reclaimed wood. Last weekend, I decided got a beanbag chair that had no cover. So I decided to make a new cover for it and in the process broke something on my sewing machine. So I was looking around YouTube for some help on fixing it. In the process, I watched a bunch of videos on sewing. It was so funny to me how the genders of the people hosting the videos just changed. For woodworking, I can think of one female who made videos. Everyone else was guys. For sewing, it’s all women. This just struck me as very funny.

Early Gift to Me

Since I had been doing a bit more work in my basement, I was continually using my old workbench and it was annoying me more and more. It’s more of a cheap worktable than workbench. But the big issue is that it was just really too tall for me. It was around 36″ tall and I think that I’d prefer a workbench that was quite a bit lower. It really hit me when I was trying to use a handplane to clean up some old lathe. Along with being too tall, it was also too wobbly, which made planing impossible. So I found a design online that didn’t look too hard. I took apart the old table and made myself a new workbench.

Black Friday

Today is “Black Friday”, which means that I’m spending it relaxing after hosting Thanksgiving yesterday. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and I believe yesterday was quite enjoyable for everyone. The wild turkey got deplucked and turned out ok. My turkey breast roast, made out of a bunch of pieces, was good. The roasted sweet potatoes were good. And as always the desserts were finished off without a problem.

Working with Wood

I have written before how I’m trying to reuse the old lathe that I saved when I redid part of my house. The procedure was basically to plane the lathe, glue it together and then plane it to a smooth thickness. This has produced some very nice boards and I’ve made a couple of nice things with them. The problem is that I’m not enjoying the process. First of all, the planer is freakin’ loud. I wear ear-covering sound mufflers and it still sounds loud to me. I tried using a sander and wet-dry vac, but that’s crazy loud too. As I get older, one thing I’ve noticed about myself is that I like quiet. Another problem is that the planer seems to be breaking a lot. I’ve spent a lot of money on a new set of carbide blades, which have worked well, but cost $249. And I’ve replaced the belt twice. It also generates a tremendous amount of sawdust that gets all over the place. But the main problem is the noise. I like working in the mornings…the earlier the better. But I don’t want to make that much noise. I’m sure my neighbors could hear some of it and I don’t want to be a jerk.

Could I Live without My Car?

A couple of days ago, I hit 2000 miles of biking for the year. It wasn’t a goal to do this at the start of the year, but I’m rather pleased with myself. I actually thought it was a bit of an accomplishment until I read a blog post somewhere about a woman with MS who rode like 6000 miles for the year. I have a long way to go to reach that. But this got me thinking, do I really need to own my own car?

Car Repair Basics – Charging System

I’ve now had three classes is my Car Repair Basics class. We’ve just been covering the charging system, mainly batteries. I’ve learned a lot. Here are my notes.

Fun with Google Calendars

We’ve started using Google Calendars at work to keep track of different seminars, colloquia, etc. However, we also like to keep our regular html calendars because they’re just easier to read and to get a quick view of all talks for a quarter. So what we want to do is have the + Google Calendar button appear on webpages, but not show the actual calendar. We’ll have all the information in our own html calendar. Yes, this requires us to update two calendars, but it makes it easier to read.

George’s Challenge

My 10 (about to be 11) year old nephew George told me that he has to read 40 books this school year. Each book needs to be at least 200 pages long. He was not looking forward to this and thought that nothing could possibly be worse. Since we are a very competitive family, I told him that it was easy and I could do it no problem. Not only that I could read 40 books twice as long as the ones he was reading. Result of my boast is that I now have to read 40 books by the end of the school year. Each of my books has to be at least 400 pages long. Stupidly, I didn’t get the details of his assignment before I agreed to this. After we shook on it, I found out that I don’t necessarily get to choose all the books, but that they have to be in some specific genres. So, here’s what I have to read this year:

I Prefer Fixes

I bought parts for some new computers for our engineers at work. Everything arrived yesterday, so I started assembling them. When I opened up the video card that I bought (PNY NVIDIA Quadro K1200), I noticed that the bracket was shorter than the standard bracket. I’ve purchased many video cards over the years and normally, the box will include another bracket so that it can be used in a regular sized case. However, I quickly found that there was not another bracket in the box. I looked a bit online and found that this particular card was designed for a small form factor case. My first issue is that that information should have been much more visible on the webpages where I bought it. Anyway, since I bought the cards from our campus vendor with a purchase order, I really didn’t want to try to return them because it’s a big hassle. So my first solution was to simply take the brackets off. I could put the card in and use it without a bracket without a problem. The next step was to see if I could make a new bracket, which quickly sounded like a bit more work than I wanted to do. I returned to Google and found someone who said that they had an older NVIDIA NVS 510 card. He said the bracket from that card fit the K1200 perfectly. I didn’t have any NVS 510 cards around, but more googling led me to a local place that sold that bracket for $20. I ordered them and got them in two days. They fit perfectly.

Financial Independence

The past couple of weeks, I have been obsessing about becoming financially independent. When I was a kid, I would have thought of this as being rich. But now, all I want to do is be able to do what I want, without having to think about money. I’d like to have the option to do things for people or not, based on whether I think it’s interesting or not, taking money out of the equation entirely.

Back Issues

About a week and a half ago, I pulled a muscle in my back. I don’t know exactly what I did, but I do remember that I was putting on a sock. I don’t remember doing anything odd, but I do remember the sharp pain. I thought it might be something bad, but I proceeded through the day as usual. I had this same injury (though much worse) about 15 years ago, if not more. At that point, it hurt so badly that I had a hard time standing up. Now, I’m pretty much ok if I keep my back bent a little, but it hurts quite a bit when trying to straighten it. This leads to the odd situation where riding my bike feels really good, but going for a walk can be painful.

The Secret Life of Machines

I’m very grateful to someone for posting all the episodes of The Secret Life of Machines online. I LOVED this show when it was first on. A while back I actually looked to buy a dvd of the shows and couldn’t find it. This makes me so happy!

Unexpected Time Off

We had a bit of a storm here yesterday.

Clamps, clamps and more clamps

One thing I have learned is that you can’t have too many clamps. I basically had enough to work on one board at a time, which means I’d have to wait for one board to dry before doing another one. Since I’m hoping to eventually build something in my lifetime, that was too slow. So I went to the store and bought another eight clamps. I seem to need 7-8 clamps per board. Now I can work on two at a time. Pictured below are the boards that I’d like to use for the sides of the bookcase I want to build. One is basically done and the other needs some more lathe. I’m out of what I’ve already sanded, so it will have to wait until I prep more boards.

Board Repairs

I thought I should try to fix the holes in the one board I made the other day. My idea was to mix up a bunch of glue and sawdust. Then try to fill and cover all the holes with this mixture. Here’s how the board looked after I filled them all in. I wasn’t too careful about making it smooth because I knew that I’d have to run it through the planer again to smooth it.

Board #3

Here are all the boards I’ve made. The first is at the top, second in the middle and the last one at the bottom.

Early Lesson

I’ve now completed two boards out of old lathe. The picture below shows part of both of them.

Recycling Begins

I saved a ton of wood (mainly lathe) when remodeling my house and finally decided to get started on doing something with it. My first issue came last week when I tried to run both my planer and wet/dry vac on the same circuit. I kept blowing it. So on Friday, I ran a new 20 amp circuit to right above the planer. After that, things ran smoothly.

Making Xmas Gifts Fun

This year I wanted to do something different for Xmas gifts. I hate just buying gifts to buy someone a gift. I want my gifts to be unique and hopefully liked. I decided that I was going to make my own gifts this year. And after watching this video, I decided that I was going to make stationery for people.

Forms and Tables

I had a very weird situation today where a simple form I had created in rails would not work for the edit action. It would work ok for the new action. But if I tried to edit an entry, the submit button wouldn’t do anything.

Sloppy

I bought computer parts for my nephew to assemble his own computer. We got it all together and it didn’t work. After taking out lots of parts, it looks like I bent some pins in the cpu socket when I put it in. This was after I specifically told my nephew that you had to be careful doing this. I’m an idiot. Tomorrow, I think I’m going to take it to work to see if I can perhaps straighten the pins using our microscope. If that doesn’t work (and I have a feeling it won’t), I’ll probably just have to buy a new motherboard.

Holiday Work

My original plan for today was to go and cut down a Christmas tree. But since my nephew (who wanted to actually cut the tree down), has not yet finished his homework for tomorrow, this plan is now on hold. So last night, I started looking at the hosting for this website. I was on Rackspace (since they bought Slicehost years ago) and was paying around $44/month. It was ok, but I my virtual server was running Centos 5.5. I know that Centos 7 is out now and I figured I should upgrade. Since this was going to mean basically making a new server and copying everything over, I looked around at my other options. Paying another $44 to Rackspace for another server seemed pricey. So instead, I set up a new server on Linode and have been moving everything there. I’m hoping Linode is going to cost me less than $20/month, but I’ll see after a few months how it’s looking. Right now, I’m copying all of my old data from my laptop to the new host. This will take a few more hours, but then I think I can delete the old Rackspace host, as I have everything set up on the new one.

Is it selfish?

For Christmas this year, I’m making gifts for some people. Yes, handmade gifts are all the thing. However, normally I think people mean that when they get something really nice as a gift. If I, as an adult, were to color them a picture, I don’t think it would be received as well as if I child did it. However, I like to try to learn new things. So I’m using Christmas as an excuse to build a contraption (can’t go into any more detail in case anyone who I might give a gift to might be reading) to make gifts. Here’s the thing, so far, my results are about the equivalent of a crayon drawing done by a five year old. Personally speaking though, working on my contraption has made me as happy as a five year old. So can I give my horrible drawings to people? Making them has made me really happy, giddy in fact. I’m grinning and giggling to myself as I write this. And in looking at my results so far, I’m laughing out loud because they’re so bad. I want to give them out because they’ve just made me so happy. But seriously, they’re crap and no one is going to want them. Is it selfish of me to give people a gift that makes me way happier than the person I’m trying to make happy with my gift? I have to think about this. Ok, yes it is selfish. But I’m ok with being selfish. 🙂

Changes

I deleted this post. I wrote it earlier today when I was mad at myself. I just realized how stupid it was.

A Roast

I cannot recall having ever cooked a big piece of red meat. I’ve made burgers (from ground beef) and chicken (breasts only), but not a roast or other thick steak. Since I may have possibly set myself up to invite people over for dinner, I thought I should probably find something to cook. I found a recipe for Pot Roast for Two and figured I’d give that a try. It’s currently in the oven and has about 3 more hours to go, so we’ll see how it turns out. I can say that it smells good so far.

Kickstart Changes from RHEL6 to RHEL7

I’ve just started installing RHEL7 on some systems at work. I usually use a kickstart script to set everything up, but the syntax of the command has changed with RHEL7. Here’s the way to get the kickstart file from our satellite server using both RHEL6 and RHEL7.

Maybe Unstuck

A few days ago I ordered the book, “The Art of Electronics”. Today, it arrived. I’ve heard that it’s a great book for learning practical electronics. I’ve been meaning to do some serious study of electronics for a while. With my job, I should know more than I actually do. So, I think I finally have my plan. I’m going to try to work my way through the book. Nothing drastic and I have no real time table. But I’m going to try to study like an hour a day. And to limit distractions, I think I’ll work in the library at work. I’m thinking this is also how I got started in learning Rails programming. I want to say it took me a few years before I could do anything usable. I’ll have to check my old notebooks for the exact dates. But there’s no deadline or anything that I need to hit. So I can take my time. And when I get a decent feel for things, hopefully, I’ll be able to make the game that’s been floating around in my head for a while. And once I start working on this, it will hopefully kick me in the butt to get moving on the rest of the stuff in my kitchen. Tomorrow I’m going to see a ballet. So perhaps I’ll start at the library on Friday. Or I’ll just wait until next week and start off on Monday.

Stuck

The good news is that my kitchen is almost done. The bad news is that my kitchen is almost done. What’s left to do? I have to caulk around the windows, finish painting the trim around the big window and finish installing floor trim. Nope, not a lot to do. Why haven’t I done it? I don’t know. I did go to the store to try to buy the trim for the floor and I can’t find the same stuff that the contractor put in. That’s annoying. I was also thinking of installing another cabinet for storage. And I just found out that Ikea is discontinuing my kitchen cabinets. So if I want to buy it, I need to do it now. Already the first cabinet that I had picked out is no longer available. You’d think that would make me jump up and drive out to Ikea, but no, I haven’t done that.

To All Who Have Ever Received Email From Me

I’m sorry. I’m sorry for my apostrophes being turned into question marks because of a stupid setting of Apple’s. I finally got a little time today and had a chance to figure out what was going on. If you go to System Settings – Keyboard – Text, there’s a selection called “Use smart quotes and dashes”. In my opinion, this should always default to off. But due to Apple’s arrogance, they had it on by default. So if you ever read my email on a non-Apple computer, all of my apostrophes would show as question marks. This bugged the heck out of me when I’d get a reply from someone and see all those question marks. So I finally took some time today to get rid of them. Yay!

Calumet Bike Trail by Indiana Dunes

One of the trails on my list to ride this summer was the Calumet Bike Trail, which is a 9 mile gravel trail by the Indiana Dunes. As I had nothing planned for this three-day weekend, I thought that I’d get up early and get out there to ride it. Part of my concern was that the only parking lot I saw was pretty small. I wanted to be sure that I’d get a space, so I figured I’d be better off with an early ride. I ended up getting there before 8am and was the only person there. I got on the trail and only did about 1/2 mile when I had to turn back. The trail was still very, very wet and completely submerged in places. While I really don’t mind getting muddy on bike rides, I actually felt that I was doing damage to the trail and just wasn’t enjoying it. And, as you can tell from the pictures below, I hesitate to even call it a trail. To me, it looked like tire tracks. As far as I can tell, this was not a well-maintained trail. It had no drainage, which is why there was all the standing water. And I think that gravel trails probably need to be groomed every so often. It didn’t look like much had been done to this trail in a while. So I think that I’m going to cross this one off my list. Now I’m also a little concerned about my plan to bike a gravel trail from Kankakee on my birthday. I may have to take a test ride and see what kind of shape that trail is in.

Deleting Autorun.inf Files

I don’t know why Windows 7 or the antivirus software I have, doesn’t let me delete autorun.inf files. To delete the file, do the following:

Wrapping It Up

I need to get my kitchen finished because I want to move on to some other things. Over the past couple of days I’ve been:

Samples

I’ve spent the weekend reading all about letterpress printing. I’m not sure why this is suddenly fascinating to me, but it is. I think I like that it has big machinery associated with it, but you can also do it yourself on a much smaller scale. In the course of my reading and watching videos, I discovered that I also don’t really know much about paper. It’s everywhere, so I pretty much just take it for granted. Going off on that tangent led me to reading all about different papers. I finally came to this company French Paper, which is a family-owned company in Michigan that makes paper. While it’s cool that it’s been family-owned for six generations, what I really like about them is what they sell. Specifically, they sell sample packages of paper and a little booklet describing all their papers. To me, this is brilliant. I wish more companies would do this, explain what they sell or at least offer an inexpensive sample so I could see if it would work on one of my projects. Anyway, I’m now waiting for my arrival of:

Birthday Plan

My birthday is a few months away and I’m trying to plan what I would like to do. I like to do something different each year. Though for a few years, I went to a museum and a movie. Since the museum and movie were different each year, I let that count. This year I wanted to do something a little more different. First I thought about going on a trip someplace. But then I figured that spending the day by myself in a town where I didn’t know anyone would be depressing. Then I was reading a blog post about overnight bike trips and thought that maybe I’d do that. I looked at the stations served by Amtrak and found one that was about 62 miles from my house and another that was around 100. A little later I was reading another blog where they mentioned the century being the target ride of bikers. Sort of like many runners want to do a marathon in their lifetime, a lot of bikers would like to ride 100 miles. I was looking into training for a century and found that I don’t really have enough time before my birthday. So I let that go until I read something else about a metric century. That’s only around 62 miles. Remembering that the one Amtrak station was around 62 miles from my house, I thought this seemed like a good plan. A little more research and I found that there’s about 40 miles of bike path that I could use for the trip, which made it sound like a great plan. So I’ve decided that this year, I’m going to try to bike from Kankakee to Chicago, using the Wauponsee Glacial Trail and the Old Plank Trail. Of course, when I actually get into Chicago, I’ll be riding on the street, hopefully in bike lanes. But I think this could be a little challenge and quite a bit of fun. I rode around 57 miles one day last summer, though the last few miles were painful. I believe I have enough time before my birthday to get into better riding shape, so that the ride will be ok. And the thought of doing the ride by myself is slightly scary enough that I think it would be good for me. So while the exact details of the ride still need to be worked out, I basically have a plan. First training ride tomorrow!

Scrolling Graph in Processing

I want to create a graph where the old data scrolls off the left side of the window while the newest data is plotted on the right side of the window. Eventually, I’m going to use this for a display to plot the readings of a temperature probe. But for now, I just want to see if I can make it work using Processing. So instead of trying to read from the serial port, I’m just going to plot a bunch of random points.

Cabinets In

Spent a couple of hours finishing my cabinet installation last week. The last ones went in on Sunday morning. The Ikea directions were a bit of a pain, but once I got the hang of it, it was easy. My biggest problem was the blister that I got on my hand from using the screwdriver so much.

Another Cabinet Down

I went to Home Depot with Julie today. She wanted to buy paint, I needed to get an assortment of wood screws and a board to put behind the sink cabinet. With that board, I was able to install the cabinet. I also put the fronts on and it looks ok.

A Mistake

Last weekend, I wanted to install the new track lighting I bought to go over the sink. When I went to attach the bit that gets hooked up to the electrical box, I realized that I used a regular box in the ceiling when I should have used a ceiling box. This just seems dumb to me and I remember installing the box and not thinking much about it. I basically just bought a bunch of deep, square boxes and put one wherever I wanted outlets or switches. But the part of the light that attaches to the ceiling is designed to go onto a smaller box. When I discovered this, I just assumed that I’d be able to get an adapter of some type to allow me to hook things up. I looked at both Ace and Home Depot and couldn’t find anything like this. So then I tried to come up with something else that would work. The problem was, anything I came up with required me to remove the drywall ring (I don’t know what it’s really called) that was already installed. This meant that I also screwed up the drywall around the box, as everything had already been taped. After much messing around I finally got things up and working. Unfortunately, I also have to fix the drywall around the box.

Oven Hood

Spent the last weekend working on the installation of the hood over the oven. This turned out to be much more difficult than I anticipated. First off, I wasn’t sure exactly how high it should have been installed. There seem to be a number of different opinions out there. I thought I had measured this all out before the drywall went up, but I stupidly didn’t write this information down. In the (very poorly written) instructions for the hood, there was no mention of how high it should go. All I found was on a sticker inside the hood that said it should be more than 24″ from the cooktop. So I put it in a little higher than that.

And it’s over

So much for saying that I was having a good month. I thought I’d finish off the electrical work today and hook up the last outlets. All was going well until I turned the power back on. I’ve set things up so that in each box, the outlets on the left were on one circuit and the outlets on the right were in another. I have gcfi outlets in the first box where the power comes up through the basement. So it’s easy for me to turn off one circuit or another.

Mistake

Since I came back a day before I planned, I had some time to work on my house on Monday. So I decided to paint my kitchen. After a little hiccup where the paint I bought was yellow and not white (said white on the can), I got started. It didn’t take too long, but I did find a rather large mistake I made when we installed the window. I think I should have raised it up a little because there’s about a 1/2″ gap along the top edge.

Road Trip!

Took another mini vacation over the weekend and drove to Washington DC. Why? First reason was the State of the Map US conference. They had an “Intro to Using OpenStreetMap” tutorial that I wanted to attend. Then I found out that it was going to be peak cherry blossoms during the same weekend. I’ve always wanted to see that, so I made the crazy drive. I drove to Perrysburg Ohio (close to Toledo) after work on Thursday and spent the night in a hotel. Then did the rest of the drive on Friday. Since it rained from the time I started until about an hour outside of DC, it wasn’t the best ride. However, once I got to DC, the weather was fantastic, around 80 degrees. I checked in to my hotel and jumped on my bike to find the cherry blossoms. They did not disappoint. My pictures are here.

Hood Vent

One thing I had to finish before my awesome drywalling party was to install the vent in the wall for my oven hood. I had to drill a 6″ hole in my brick house.

Insane

It’s been a while since I posted, but not for lack of activity. In fact, I can’t remember a time when I have been so busy. Things got so much out of control that I think it contributed to me getting sick earlier in the week. So I decided to take some action and start saying no to some things.

Injury

I don’t know what I did to my thumb, but yesterday when I woke up, it was very sore. And as of today, it was definitely swollen. The picture below sort of shows my issue. Though, after a day of advil and keeping it cool with snow from outside, it has gotten a little better. At least it doesn’t hurt nearly as much as it hurt this morning. I can move it a bit more and I think it’s a little less swollen. It’ll be interesting to see how it reacts to all the drilling through brick that I’ll be doing tomorrow.

Onward!

I got a late start yesterday, but got a few tasks that needed to be done taken care of. First, I went to Menards and found that they had the piece to finish the vent in the kitchen. So I went from this:

Rails Constantize Method

I learned a new inflector method the other day, constantize. Here’s the method I used it in.

Paperclip and Nested Attributes

I have an app that has a model (called cases) that has_many documents associated with it. I have had no problems in creating the case and the associated documents. I had quite a bit of trouble when I was trying to replace one of the documents with and updated one. But I finally got that straightened out. Not sure if this is how a real programmer would do it, but it works for me.

Hate Things that Depend on Whitespace

I’m writing a rails app and was trying to use a scope with a variable. My code looked like this:

My Day Off

My employer has deemed that I can no longer accumulate any more vacation days until I use some. So, I’m off today and tomorrow. Today was a pretty good day. I filled my entire recycling bin with paper that I shredded. And still have a couple of more bags to put out. I even bought a new shredder to help me since this is a job that I had been putting off for years. And by getting rid of the paper, I made a dent in cleaning up my bedroom. Now I just need to start going through old computer equipment and recycling that.

Back At It

Back to work on my kitchen today. The hood that I ordered came in so I could try to determine where the outlet for it should go. I’m glad I bought it because I had it way too low. I found this out by eyeballing it, since the hood did not come with any installation instructions. I looked online and found that a hood should be 30″-36″ above the stove. Then, I measured where the power on the hood was and it was about 10″ above the bottom of the hood. I had to move my power outlet about 10″ higher. Next I put in a board so I’d have something to screw into to hold the hood up. I’m pretty happy that except for the hole for the vent, I think I have everything done for the hood. I also bought some insulation to put between the 2x4s in the wall. And I finished the wall on the back of the house. All I have to do now is put in an outlet for the dishwasher, which I completely forgot to do. Install the insulation. And cut the breakfast bar area to the right height and I’m READY FOR DRYWALL! Barring any more disasters, I’m thinking this will happen next month. Yay! Here’s how things look now.

Using TileMill

Need to go to http://metro.teczno.com/ and download the osm.pbf file for Chicago. Then import it:

Tilemill

I’m trying to make a map for a conference and thought I’d use TileMill. As far as I can tell, the first step (after installing TileMill) is to install postgresql. Here’s where I am with that.

Getting Ready for the Wrap Up

For the past couple of years, I’ve done a sort of year-in-review post with my thoughts about what went well over the past year and what I’d like to do in the upcoming year. I don’t really refer back to this list at any point during the year, but perhaps I should. In general, I like to see things that I think would be helpful/fun to know/learn/do in the coming year. And if I see things that I’ve had on my list for more than one year, I’d like to think that I make a bit more of an effort to do them. Anyway, as the end of the year is coming up and this is how I sort of like to spend my January 1st, I’ve been starting to think about the year in general. By and large, I’m pretty happy and think I had a pretty good year. I may have gotten a bit lazy toward the end, but overall, I’m not complaining. I’ll go into more details next week.

Conduit!

This weekend was the time to put in conduit for all my outlets. And that’s what I did. I’ve put in a lot of outlets and think that I have set everything up quite nicely. I’m really happy that my conduit bending skills have improved quite a lot. Here are some pictures:

Froze My Butt Off

Julie and I did the Santa Hustle this morning. It was under 20 degrees and freakin’ freezing. Here’s a few pictures I took when I could get my fingers out of my gloves.

I Earned a Cookie

I had a pretty good Thanksgiving weekend. Got the wall done, so I feel I’ve earned a cookie.

Getting There!

My favorite holiday weekend is going on. I had planned on renting a truck and fighting the crowds at Home Depot to get the rest of the insulation that I needed. Alas, the truck I usually get was rented for the day. So I had to change my plan. Instead I finished hooking up my drain vent. Hopefully it’s ok. It goes up somewhere upstairs. I’ll have to find it when I get to work on the upstairs.

Back in the Swing of Things

My two weeks of jury duty threw me off my game a bit, but I got back to working on the house again. This weekend I built the half wall, though I left it tall because I’m not sure how high it should be. I also finally rented a truck and bought some insulation. I started attaching it to the wall as well. Here are some pictures I took this weekend.

Good Weekend

I got a lot done this weekend. Today, I finished up by cutting and laying out all the pipe for the new kitchen drain and stack. I haven’t glued it all together because I want Mickey to come and double-check it, but I think it’s going to work.

Idiot

Take a look at the new water lines in the kitchen. Notice anything odd about them?

Good Morning So Far

I installed my new water lines this morning. Yay! But I have a leak. Boo! I’ll have to fix that later. It’s supposed to rain this afternoon, so I wanted to get the outside of the window I installed finished. I took some aluminum to work to bend on our brake there. Unfortunately, it’s only 2′ wide, so I had to use two pieces to fit my window. But I got it in. I’m sure a real window-installer would have made it look nicer, but I think it’s waterproof, which is my only concern.

Robot in Action

I finally built my robot. I had taken pictures of the process, but never got around to posting them. Instead, here’s the first video I made.

Drunken Jogging

I started using the RunKeeper app to track my jogs, as my sister uses it and likes it a lot. It is also able to track bike rides, which I also do. So this seemed like a great solution. And to top it off, on my first run, it said my pace was a bit faster than I thought I was doing, so I was pretty happy.

My Robot

My niece and nephew were both talking about building a robot and it made me realize that I wanted to build a robot as well. After looking around, I had intended to buy the new Arduino robot, but it wasn’t in stock. Instead I found a hexapod robot called Hexy, which looked even more fun. So I ordered it and it arrived today.

The Challenge

Paul proposed that I host Thanksgiving again. Will I be able to do it at my house? This is going to require a kitchen. Here’s what mine looks like now.

Front Stairs

While waiting for the new window to arrive, I decided to tackle some other tasks that I’ve been ignoring. First up, my horribly dangerous front stairs. Since I’m getting a roommate soon, who will unquestionably complain about them, I decided I should do something. None of the contractors I contacted over the summer got back to me, so it’s looking like the stairs won’t get rebuilt this year. I had mixed a little mortar the other week to fix the gaps around my window and it was pretty easy to work with. So I thought, why not give it a try?

Depressing

Sometimes you don’t want to know the state of your house and other times you can’t help but notice. I really, really need to have my house tuckpointed. This is a shot of the inside of the old hood vent. Yes, that is water pouring down.

It Works!

Yes, the new car is small, but I can still move stuff. It just takes me a few more trips than usual. To get 18 2″x4″x10′, took me three trips to Home Depot. But it’s a beautiful day, so I’m ok with that.

Status Report

I’m a little stuck. Here’s how things look now.

Labor Day

I decided to not work on Labor Day, thus turning it into No-Labor Day and to go for a long bike ride instead. I have just finished my 57-mile ride and am probably not going to move for the rest of the evening. Here is the info from my route.

Cold-Air Return Moved

I can cross number 2 from the last post off. I moved the cold-air return much lower to the floor and cut the wall to about half size. I just cut the wall shorter, but didn’t measure anything because I’m not sure how high, exactly, it should be. I’ll have to cut them down again later when I know how high the countertop will be.

More Demolition

Today I decided to take down the wall between the kitchen and dining room. Well, not take the whole wall down, but just take off all the drywall so I could see what was there. I’m going to have to cut this wall down to match the height of the kitchen cabinets. But since this wall is at the end of the slope in the floor, I’m not exactly sure where to cut it yet. That will come later. I also finished pulling all the furring strips that were close to the ceiling down, so the brick walls are bare, except for the outlets on them. I would have taken them off too, but that requires me to cut the power to the room, which means the lights won’t work. And today it has been storming quite a bit, so there isn’t much natural light to work with. I’ll see if tomorrow is better for that.

Really Done Now

It took a little over an hour, but I got the floor grouted. I will have to inspect it more closely in the morning when the light is better, but I think it looks pretty good.

Know What’s Better Than Perfect? Done!

I am really tired, but the tile is all in. Sometime this week, I’ll grout and it’ll be completely done, but that’s pretty easy. The difficult stuff was this weekend and I got it done. It’s no where near perfect. In fact, I ended up needing one more red tile. But since it was going in a place that will be under cabinets, I just stuck two smaller pieces together. And if you look closely, you’ll see a number of other mistakes, but I’m going to try to not look closely and just be happy with it.

So Close

My intention today was to finish putting down the tile in my kitchen. I got really close, but then ran out of thinset again. So I need to go to Home Depot for more and then I can finish it tomorrow. Yay!

Smarter Than I Look

I’m getting to the point in my kitchen where I’m rebuilding walls. Unfortunately, my memory of how the contractor did the rest of the house is fuzzy. So I searched through iPhoto on my laptop to see if I could find any pictures of how the walls went up. And I found a movie I made where I walked through the house to look at the electrical connections and could see how the walls were built. And even better, I said what this piece of electrical conduit that’s currently sticking in my kitchen is for. That was great because I was leaning toward cutting it out since I didn’t know why it was there. Yay me! So this morning I’m going to make another movie for myself just for future reference.

Kitchen Tile

I took a few days this week and got to work on the tile floor in the kitchen. I had hoped to get more of it finished, but ran out of thin set mortar and energy. Thankfully, Julie came over to visit and Paul brought us both lunch, so I had a lovely lunch with them. Not sure if I’ll be able to finish it tomorrow, so I this may be on hold for a week or so. Going to try to just be satisfied with what I got done today.

First Cabinet

It probably says something about me (that I wouldn’t like) that a thoroughly enjoyable evening to me is to have a baseball game on while assembling a cabinet in my pajamas. I bought two cabinets yesterday and put together my first one today.

Rebuilding Begins!

I made my first repairs today.

Gutted!

That’s basically it for gutting the kitchen.

Partial Success

I got a lot done today. But pulling up floor boards is hard on my back. And by around lunchtime, I knew I was done for the day. I got most of the room done and generated a large amount of garbage, which is basically how I measure how much I worked.

Looking on the Bright Side

My sister has returned to town, so I had to return her car, making me carless for the time-being. I have finally decided on a car and was supposed to go and pick it up today. But, because I’m a moron, I forgot to call my insurance company to pay for insurance on my brand-new car. So, I decided to postpone picking up the car until Monday.

Lots to Do

Since I was feeling depressed after realizing how much there still is to do on the kitchen, I thought I should take a minute to see how far I’ve come. Below are some pictures I took on the final walkthru of the house when I bought it in 2005 and how it looks now. Eight years of my life. Not sure it was worth it.

Walls Down

I finally finished taking down the walls in the kitchen, though I think I still have to pull off those furring strips. However, I have generated a ton of garbage, so I’ll hold off on that for now. I also have to make the wall between the kitchen and dining room into a half wall, but that can come later. I think the next step will be to rip out the floor down to the subfloor. After that, I’m not sure. I may have to consult with Mick.

Crazy

Mickey the Great came over today and we moved the gas line in my kitchen. As an added bonus, we put in some shutoff valves which I was missing. And lastly, we fully disconnected the dishwasher. We also hauled it out to the alley and two hours later, it’s already gone. Now I’ll be able to put out my beautiful old stove (that has a hole in the side) as well.

It’s Over

There will be no more cooking or cleaning at my house for the foreseeable future. I just finished removing the sink. It’s somewhat depressing thinking about how much more work I have to do.

Pathetic

Yesterday was the annual Run for Hope that I’ve been doing the past few years. This year, as usual, I was racing my now 13-year old nephew Jack. He beat me last year by seven minutes and my goal was to get that down to five this year.

An Accident

I have had two snakes (that I’ve seen) in my backyard for as long as I’ve owned my house. For the most part, they can do whatever they want back there and I don’t care. I usually only see them when I’m cutting the grass and they quickly slide away. Today, the grass was a little taller and I didn’t see one of them and I think I killed him. I feel pretty bad about this.

A Little Bit More

Had to fill my garbage cans again, so I took out a cabinet. Now I need to put a valve on my gas line, so I can disconnect the stove. And then it will be time to get rid of the sink. At that point, I’ll be sad because washing dishes will be a pain. (I’m thinking I’ll just go and buy paper plates and cups.)

Little More Work

I took the morning and tried to take down a bit more of the wall in the kitchen. It was nice being able to stand on the counter to reach the high parts. Here’s how things look now.

Little Work

My organizing kick really tired me out. I slept for a very long time and didn’t feel like doing anything today. But I felt I should do something today, so I decided to just finish taking the drywall off the back of the kitchen. It didn’t take long, but since I was already tired, it pretty much finished me for the day.

Organizing Kick

Since I was doing a bit of organizing at work this week, it has carried over to my house. This is not a mood I’m usually in, so I decided to take advantage of it and do a little work on my basement. My basement needs a lot of work, so this put a very small dent into it. I’d say I cleaned up about a quarter of the basement. And I’m pretty happy with that.

A Few Good Hours

I woke up and decided I better get started. So, down came the upper cabinets, except for the one with the vent going outside. I’ll do that later.

It Begins Again

It’s March and I’ve finally saved up enough (I hope), so I started work on my kitchen. Here’s a shot of the first two cabinets I took down.

A Bad Habit

Until yesterday, I had been carless for the past few weeks. Even though it was ridiculously cold, if I wanted to get to work, I’d do my bus-el-bus trip to get there and then reverse it to get home. In all honesty, this wasn’t that difficult, though it was rather cold this week. One of the things that I had thought about, when I bought my house, was that I didn’t want to be dependent on a car. So, I can take public transit to work, I can walk to a grocery store or other stores that I might need. Now though, that I have my car back, I was just thinking that I’ll drive over to Target this morning to pick up some stuff. This is ridiculous. Last week, I would have (and did) just walk there. There was a talk in the evening the other day downtown that I wanted to hear. So, even after I took public transit home, ate dinner and was a bit tired, I bundled up again and walked to a different el stop to take the train to go to the meeting. Now, I’m being a total weenie and want to drive to a store that’s maybe a mile away, but probably less to buy some things that aren’t even heavy. I am completely ashamed of myself. This is a habit that I need to break and I’m not sure how I’ll do it. But, I’m going to try and be more aware of when I instinctively think to just get in my car and drive. More immediately, I’m going to put on my boots and coat and walk over to the store. Self, quit being such a wuss!

FUN!

My brother convinced me to buy a mountain bike on Friday and we went up to Kettle Moraine on Saturday for a ride. I was a bit nervous, hoping that I wouldn’t hurt myself, since I’d never done anything like this. I love riding my bike, but I usually stay on pavement, which makes the riding pretty easy, even in traffic. Since there were a few of us who had never done it before, we went on an intermediate trail of about 4 miles. It was about 41 degrees, which wasn’t bad, but it was totally muddy. And I have to be honest, I haven’t gotten that filthy in a long time and it was fun. Since it was so muddy and a bit chilly, I couldn’t take too many pictures because it was a pain to take off my gloves and get the camera out. But here are a few shots from the day.

Coffeescript is Whitespace Sensitive

I’m attempting to get autocomplete working on a rails app. I’m basically following the instructions in Railscast #102 (revised). It wasn’t working because I didn’t realize that coffeescript was whitespace sensitive. Once I realized that, I thought I was set, but I wasn’t. I like having my tabs be two spaces, but coffeescript wants four space tabs. So after I doubled all of my tabs, things started working.

Context

There are a number of blogs that I read, almost daily. I know a lot of people do this and many do it by subscribing to the RSS feed of a given blog. I am not one of those people. Why? I like to see the information in its original context. RSS readers strip everything off the webpage except the text of the post. So just by glance, I can’t tell which website the post came from. I don’t like this at all. I prefer to read the text on the original site that the author created. Why? It helps me to remember where I read the information. A typical example, just the other day, I was thinking that there was a book I was interested in reading because I had read about it on some website. It was a somewhat technical book, so it could have been reviewed on any number of sites that I visit. However, I couldn’t remember the title and I didn’t think it was an actual review of the book. I was something written by the person who wrote the book. I remembered liking the post, but all I could remember was that I had read about it in December and it was to be published in January. Now that it was January, I wanted to remember it to see if I wanted to buy it. After picturing the article, I remembered that it was on the NY Times website. I like that my brain still had the connection of where I read the article. I supposed if I read it in an RSS feed (which I don’t even know if the NY Times provides), I could have looked there somehow. But I think it’s good for my brain to still be making connections like this. It’s probably more inefficient to read blogs this way, but it’s my preferred way. And I’m also not a fan of making everything more efficient. Inefficiency is good. But that’s a post for another day.

2012 in Review

Being the last day of 2012, I thought I’d take a minute and check out how I did with the goals I set for last year.

Kindle/iPad/ebook Reader Issue

I just purchased a book on Amazon to read on my ipad. Unfortunately, I have a number of different email addresses and I ended up using an email address that was different than the one I used to set up the Amazon app on my ipad. So the only way that I can read the book I just bought is to deregister the app with the old email, which will delete all the books that I currently have and then reregister with the new email address that I used. I did that and now have a single book in my ipad app, which is the one I just bought. If I want to get back the others, I have to repeat the process and go back to my old email address.

Ruby and Ldap

I’ve been rewriting a script I use that lets people update their linux and samba user passwords at the same time. Our server uses samba and openldap to behave as a primary domain controller for our windows computers and a single sign-on for a few other services. It’s been working great for years and way back when we started using this, I wrote a perl script to take care of keeping the two passwords in sync. The original problem was that if you use the regular linux passwd command, the linux password will change, but the samba one will not. The samba password uses an nthash. In a given user’s ldap account, there is the userPassword field which holds the linux password and the sambaNTPassword field which holds the samba password. For a user to be able to use any of the web services we run on the server and login to any of our windows computers with the same password, these two fields need to contain the same password.

It Takes Time

I have, for the past few days, been immersing myself in adding parts to my arduino to extend functionality. There’s a game involving a map that has been floating around in my head for a very long time. It’s finally time for me to do something about it, so I’m starting to learn the things necessary to make it happen. I successfully hooked up a shift register to add a lot more leds, which will be necessary and now am hooking up a different type of shift register to add more buttons. This has proved a bit more difficult, but now, in my advanced age, I know that it takes time for things to sink in. Today was one of those great days where after struggling for a while, the light bulb went off over my head and I think I understand how things work.

Fun

I can’t believe that my nieces and nephews don’t like coming to my house because I have no games. I let them play with real tools like drills, hammers, saws, etc. That’s way more fun. Here’s Abby using a drill.

Windows 8

I had read a bunch of bad things about Windows 8, so I thought I’d use my Technet subscription to install it and see for myself. When it first starts, it does truly suck. I don’t know what that first window that comes up is, but it looks ridiculous on a laptop. However, my clicking on my account name, I got to the familiar desktop. I’ll have to see if there’s a way to just make that be the default. The next weird thing was the lack of a start button. This meant that I couldn’t figure out how to get to the Control Panel. So I ended up installing a free program called Classic Shell. This gave me the start button and let me get to the Control Panel, which looks remarkably like Windows 7. That’s good. Anyway, I created a link on my desktop to Control Panel. I tried duplicating this link to see if I could have created it without installing Classic Shell, but that didn’t work.

Floor Pictures

I’m basically done with the floor, but forgot to post the pictures I took of the process. So, for future reference, here they are:

Blinds!

The floor is basically done. I just put some brown paper on it for protection as I washed all the walls and repainted in a few areas. I also put up blinds! They look great and work wonderfully as well. To help me with the blinds, I brought down my table and put that in the dining room so I could work easily.

Days Off

I took the rest of this week off. Today, I decided to drive to Glacial Park Nature Preserve in Ringwood IL, which took me about two hours to get to. I read they had a nice hiking trail and while I hadn’t ever hiked before, I thought it was something that I might enjoy. My goal on the hike was to take one picture that I could print out and hang on the wall of my newly finished house. All of my pictures are here. Most aren’t very good, but there are two that I think I’d be happy with on my wall. So, when I move back home, one of the first things I’m going to do is have a print made of one or two of them.

Updates

It’s been a while since I’ve posted work done at the house, but work has progressed quite a bit.

How I Spent My Labor Day Weekend

Aside from the time I spent working on my laptop, I did get quite a bit done at the house. I was going to do the final sanding of the wood floor, but then decided that doing the tiling would probably scuff it up a lot. So, instead I decided to start working on the area around the stairs, which will be tiled.

Switching to Mac OS X 10.8

Today, I downloaded and installed Mac OS X 10.8. I won’t call it an upgrade because it’s not. About two hours ago, I attempted to install 10.6 on my one-month-old laptop. Sadly, it did not work. Every time I tried to boot to the old OS, the system crashed. So, I’m stuck with this piece of shit operating system. Here’s the thing. I thought 10.7 was pretty bad. It made no real changes, except things that appeared to be eye-candy, and which, for me, made the product worse. So, what do I hate about 10.8?

Last Patch

There was a small area between the dining room and the bedroom that had some weird wood in the floor. I found out why when I removed it and tried to piece in some pieces I had pulled up elsewhere. The opening was a little bit bigger than the thickness of two pieces. So, I decided to fill it using the maple floor that I had left. Here’s how it looked when I was about halfway through. I think it looks pretty good.

Ready for Sanding

I think I’ve now finished all the repairs on the floor. The wooden floor is now ready for more sanding before finishing. I even broke out the good camera to take some pictures. Here’s how things look, including some of the mistakes that I made.

Finished Something

It took a while, but I finally finished the big flooring replacement at my house. Putting the very last piece in took a bit of work and it’s by no means perfect, but I’m happy with it. Hopefully, I didn’t make any big mistakes that will cause the floor to buckle in winter. I still have two smaller places to patch, but I’m happy with the bit I finished today.

Little Bit at a Time

I’ve tried to stop by my house every day after work this week and just install one row of flooring. (It’s been in the 90s, so I really can’t work that long anyway.) I figure I’ll slowly make progress this week. Here’s how things are looking after today.

I Am So Tired

I worked a lot on the house today. Put in a pretty full day. First up was repairing the bad subfloor, which wasn’t bad at all.

Start of New Flooring Installation

Today, I started putting down the maple flooring that I bought to fix the bad areas. Here’s my first row.

I Love Fixing Things

My van wouldn’t start the other day. I had recently had some hose in the steering system replaced because it had holes and since then, the car was really hard to start. I don’t think these things were related. I think it had something to do with the fact that since I have Julie’s car, I’m not driving the van very much. It can sit in my garage for weeks at a time. So, when I did go to drive it, mainly just to make sure it was still working, I found that it would not start. I turned the key and it just made some clicking noises. I’m no mechanic, but I thought that this was a battery issue, even though the radio and lights were still working. A quick check on Google confirmed this.

Getting There

I spent a very short time working on the house this weekend, due to a graduation party and very hot weather. But I did manage to take out all the wood that I’m going to replace with the new maple flooring. Here’s how it looks.

On the Downward Slope

I was feeling pretty good going into the 5K this morning, but thanks to the turkey below, I have now found myself on the downward slope of life.

Fun Weekend

This Memorial Day weekend was quite a good one. I got the holes in my floor all patched. Now I just have to work on the section that I’m replacing with new wood. We had beautiful weather for Bike the Drive on Sunday. And today, we had a nice barbeque and birthday celebration for my Mom. Included were my brother John bringing his new motorcycle around and giving rides to all the kids and my Mom.

Living Room Patched

I finished patching the holes in the living room. I’m no expert at working with wood floors, but I think I did an ok job. At least, I’m not too embarrassed to say that I did the floor. Now, I have two small areas to do in the dining room, a small area in the bedroom and then the big patch of maple. I’m getting excited because I can definitely see the progress and the end seems near.

Patching Continues

I biked out to a lumber liquidators store on Friday and ordered ~80 square feet of maple flooring. I’m going to cut out the big section between the dining and living rooms and put maple in there. It will look very different, but I’m ok with that. I had wanted to use a bunch of different kinds of wood, but since you have to buy 20 square feet at a time, I would have had to buy a lot. So I decided to just go with maple.

Patching Begins

Over the weekend, I finished the basic sanding (yay!) and started patching. I think it’s going to turn out ok. Here’s how it looks now.

Another Day…

I’m getting close to finishing the first sanding layer. Here’s all I have left to do in the living room. After this, I should be able to start patching holes.

Chugging Along

No work last weekend, since I was suffering with back issues. Today, I went for a run and then back to the house to work on the floor. The dining room is basically done, at least with paint/finish removal. Now I’m working on the living room. Here’s how it looked about halfway through.

Floor Status

Work on sanding the floor has begun. It’s painful to my knees and back and very slow. On day 1, I rented a floor sander for a few hours to do the bulk of the work. Now, I’m trying to clean things up with my little belt sander. We’ll see how long it lasts before I burn out the motor.

Interesting Evening

I spent the evening poking around The National Archives. I found some neat images that I downloaded. I did a search for Theodore Roosevelt, because I’m currently reading a biography of him and I’ve been fascinated with him since I visited his birthplace a few years ago. And I searched for Thomas Edison because he’s always been one of my favorite people.

IPhone Saga Continues

I was feeling pretty full of myself after replacing the screen on my iphone. Alas, I now have new troubles. It seems that my iphone thinks that headphones are plugged in all the time. This means that I cannot take calls, listen or speak on my phone without putting it on speaker. I thought that this was related to my changing the screen, but I don’t think it is. First of all, I didn’t have this problem after I replaced the screen. It appeared about a week later. Secondly, I searched this issue online and found that lots of people have it. Just another great apple product.

Typical Weekend

As I spend most weekends, I was working at my house today. I met my contractor in the morning to discuss putting in the back door. He’d rather just come back one more time to finish everything, so I have to buy my lights and then give him a call. So, I may be able to get all that done in a few weeks. Good thing I did my taxes, so I’ll have a little money to buy the lights.

Ready for Grout

I didn’t feel like posting yet another pictures of the floor in my kitchen. However, it is now done, up to the back door. The next step is grouting. I’m debating whether I should grout or wait until I finish the whole thing before grouting. Either way, the tiles are all in. Took a while, but I think it looks pretty good.

Just Get Started

I could be messing around with arranging tiles on the kitchen floor for years. I finally decided that I just need to set the tile and see how it turns out. If I make a mistake, so be it. I’ll figure out a way to fix it. So I spent today setting tile. I have about half of the area done that I want to do. I could have probably done the entire kitchen, but realized that this would block access to my bathroom. This meant that I couldn’t get to either bathroom in the house. The upstairs one is blocked because I started sanding the stairs. Blocking the downstairs one just seemed like a stupid idea. So I did half the area, to leave a path. I’ll do the other half after I can walk on the tile I just installed. So, here’s how things look so far.

Floor Progress

Here’s where I am on the floor.

The Work is Slow

I spent the days working on the house. Made a big mistake, but learned a valuable lesson.

The Idiot Returns

While staying at my sister’s condo, I thought that her furnace seemed rather loud. In fact, it’s loud enough that it has woken me up a few times. I was thinking that maybe it was getting louder because the furnace filter needed to be changed. So, when it woke me up at 5am this morning, I decided to find out what size the filter was so I could buy a new one after work. Since it’s above the ceiling in the bathroom, I needed a ladder to reach it easily. There’s only a step stool here, so I was stretching quite a bit to try to get to it. I quickly saw that this was a size filter that I had never seen before. I figured it was roughly 12″x36″. I went to Home Depot after work, thinking there wouldn’t be many filters in that size and I’d notice it right away. Well, there were no filters in that size. Nothing remotely close. So, I got a tape measure and actually measured the filter when I got home. The size, 9 7/8″ x 39 3/4″. Basically, 10″x39″. Looked online and didn’t find anything remotely around that size. It looks like this was going to have to be custom made.

2012 (and beyond) Goals

Happy New Year!

Plans for 2012

I’ve found that a little bit of planning helps me get much more accomplished than just trying to do things willy-nilly. I look back with great satisfaction at my decision to learn Ruby on Rails about three years ago. It took quite a bit of time and I’m not a guru yet, but I can and have created some websites that have been helpful. Since I had a personal day that I needed to use before the end of the year, I’ve taken it today and will use that to lay out my plans. And because I think that making the plans public will help me stick to them, I’ll post them as soon as they’re done.

Detaching Rails Processes

In my latest app, I’m emailing reports to people who click on a link. (Yes, I know this should be a button, but I just did it with a link because it was easy. If I have time, I’ll change it to a button.) Anyway, I’m attempting to use Process.fork to do this. What I have that works is:

*#$!^&*! Spam

I hadn’t been blogging much, so I didn’t realize that I was getting slammed with trackback and pingback spam. After my last post, I noticed that there were over 800 comments. I knew this was going to just about all be spam, so I had to figure out what was happening. Since I had already turned off comments, I knew that wasn’t how it was coming in. I went to the dashboard and noticed that pingbacks and trackbacks were still on, so I turned them off and thought I was finished. Only after deleting the over 800 comments, did I see them keep coming. So I had to do a little more research to find that the checkboxes only turned off trackbacks and pingbacks for future posts. The earlier posts still had it on, which is why I kept getting the spam. These had to be turned off manually, which was going to be a pain, since I have a number of posts. But then I found a simple mysql command to turn them all off at once.

My Turn

When I was a kid, I played in lots of sports. My parents were big believers in organized sports as a way to keep kids out of trouble. Since I tended to find them fun, I, for the most part, happily went along with it. Looking back, I had no idea how much time people freely gave in order for me to have all these opportunities. I didn’t appreciate the gift that these teachers and coaches gave me of their time and knowledge. Now, however, I do realize how very generous they were. And, since I’m now an adult, I think that it’s my turn. I’ve made monetary donations in the past to various organizations. But now, it’s time for me to give more back. I’ve been very lucky to have so many opportunities and I think that I now have something that I can offer people. So I need to decide what to do.

WordPress Issue

I’ve changed the permalinks on my blog to show the year, month and title. This edited my .htaccess file so that the links worked. But my new problem is that images are not showing. So, I’m making this post as a little test. I’m posting a new image to see if it works.

Things that Drive Me Nuts (or Why I’d Rather Build My Own Computers)

I recently purchased two Dell Optiplex 380s. Dual core pentiums with 3gb of ram and windows 7 professional for $434 each. I was quite busy and needed to get them quickly for my Mom’s office. Normally, I prefer to build my own systems because I know exactly what I’m getting. But the Dells were the right price and easy to order. After I ordered the Dells, I also ordered four Western Digital enterprise drives (WD5003ABYX) to use for a mirrored raid in each system. I did check that the optiplex systems had space for two more internal drives. I also knew that I’d be buying a separate raid card to put in the systems. I didn’t order that ahead of time because I wasn’t exactly sure what slots would be present/available in the system.

Validating Nested Attributes

I am sure that there’s a better way to do this, but I got this working and I wanted to document it.

Mac OS X Server and WordPress

I have to say that I’m not at all happy with Mac OS X as a web server. My immediate complaint is that it’s not serving up WordPress themes correctly. I know I have them working properly, but when I go to other computers, I see that they’re not correct. I guess it’s time for me to move back to linux where I know things work properly.

Perhaps This is Stupid (from Google Cache)

Originally posted August 21, 2008

iPhone Update (from Google Cache)

Originally posted June 28, 2009

Blown Power Supply (from Google Cache)

Originally posted October 14, 2009

RubyGems Notes (from Google Cache)

Originally posted October 15, 2009

Working with httpd.conf (from Google Cache)

Originally posted October 16, 2009

My First Solar Image (from Google Cache)

Originally posted March 3, 2010.

A New Coldandheartless

It might be a bit obvious now, but my coldandheartless server died a painful death last week. I finally got around to seeing if I could fix anything and found that the system drive had completely failed. I tried rescuing files from the drive and it didn’t work. The good news is that I had the webpages on a separate disk which was still fine. So I could copy all of those files to my new server. Unfortunately, my wordpress database was not backed up (my bad) and I was unable to restore any of the files. The good news is that I did find one old backup (from sometime in 2008) that I could use to get back some of my posts. So there is now about a two-year gap in the blog. Oh well. Lesson learned. Now, I have to devise a new backup scheme. I haven’t yet decided how to do it, but I’m sure I’ll come up with something.

Approaching 40…

We’re just over six months until my fortieth birthday. I thought I was going to be a bit depressed about it, but I don’t think I will be. However, I do think that I’m going to be making some changes in my life. It probably happened a couple of years ago, but I’m now fairly sure that I’m in the second half of my life. The first half was good, but I want the second half to be much better.

What’s the Point?

I’ve been thinking a lot these days about money. And it’s just depressing, though it shouldn’t be. Honestly, in the grand scheme of things, I’m quite well off. I have a good job with good benefits and I own my house. Well, the bank owns it, but they’re letting me live there as long as I give them 21% of my take home pay for the next 18 years. Aside from my mortgage, I have no other debt, so that’s good. I guess what is depressing me is that I don’t live that extravagantly, but that I feel like I’m always stretched for cash. For most of my working life, I’ve been saving as much as I can for retirement. It just doesn’t look like there’s ever going to be enough there for me to retire.

The XO Laptop

I just received my new XO laptop that I bought last month. It’s definitely for kids. I have pretty small hands and the keyboard on the laptop is small even for me. I’m pretty impressed with it though. It’s running a version of Fedora, Fedora core 7 I think. But it has a terminal to use and lots of other stuff. I think for kids in developing countries, where cost is the main factor, that these things will work pretty well. Though, it’s funny that it doesn’t come with any sort of documentation. The kid just has to play around with it. I like doing that, but I don’t know how many others do.

Views of the Shower

Today is the last day of 2007. I think I’ll remember this year as the year that I had no shower. It took just about the entire year, but I got things basically done. Here are some pics of the finished bathroom. (Note that there are no shots of the ceiling because that’s not yet done.)

Easy Repairs

I talked to my boss at work today and he told me that perhaps my showerhead had a regulator in it that restricted the flow. I took it off and indeed there was a little plastic regulator. So I took a pair of pliers and pulled it out. I then switched the pipe for the showerhead around because I had it in backwards. This solved my problem of not being able to get the cover on, which makes me happy. I replaced the showerhead and can’t really tell a difference in the flow. So I guess it didn’t make that much of a difference. Oh well.

My First Shower

I started remodeling the bathroom on January 27, 2007. I’ve just taken my first shower in my remodeled bathroom. The entire room is not done, but the tub area is, so I figured I could take a shower. It was a bit of a let-down. I guess I was expecting a fantastic experience after all the work I put into it. But, it turned out to be a shower just like the ones I took before I did anything, except that the water did in fact get hot. (That’s more likely related to the fact that I finally turned the heat up on the hot-water heater.)

Window Tile

Finally, I have the tile done around the window. It’s not fantastic, but it’s not bad. If I had built the original wall square, I would have had a lot fewer problems. But, live and learn.

Moving Right Along

Took Friday off from work (where they pay me) to work on my bathroom (where I don’t pay me). I got lots done. I painted and put the floor tiles in. Today (or yesterday as I write this), my brother Mark came over and we did lots of tiling on the walls. He was a great help and I got tons more done with him here than I would have done by myself. We got all the tile in around the shower and most of the window done. I just have to finish the top (arch) of the window and the wall behind the toilet and sink. Turns out that I’m going to have to get more tile, but that’s ok. No pictures today. It’s getting close to being done and I’m getting excited.

Progress!

Since I spent just about all the time I had off for Thanksgiving (minus the day itself) working on the bathroom, I should have something to show for it. So, here it is. I just finished priming and should be able to paint tomorrow. Then, finally, I can start tiling! I am so looking forward to taking a shower at home, I really can’t put it into words.

Nap Time

It’s been a great Thanksgiving so far.  I got up this morning and ran in the Turkey Trot in Lincoln Park.  My goal was to finish in under and hour and though I walked the last 100 yards or so (because I was sure I was going to throw up), my official time was 59:50.  (My ipod showed 59:40, so I may have to recalibrate it.)  Then we went to the Museum of Science and Industry to look at the Xmas trees and I thoroughly enjoyed a special exhibit they had on maps.  Back to my Mom’s to eat and now, my brother’s family has left to go to his inlaws.  It’s now 5pm and most of us are taking naps.  I love this holiday.

Getting Closer

Mickey the Great has just left. He came over today to install the drain for the toilet, shutoff valves on all the pipes in the bathroom and drill a hole in my brick house for a bathroom vent. All the while recovering from the flu. He is altogether deserving of any praise I can heap on him. Thanks Mick! I owe you big time!

Progress

Last weekend, we got a lot done. We, being the operative word. Mom, Mark, Paul, John and Jack were all over. They did a ton of cleaning, which was great. Mark helped frame out the medicine cabinet. Then Paul came over and we hung a bunch of drywall. Today, I hung the cement board that goes over the controls of the tub. I have to buy a door so that I know where to end the drywall on the last wall. And then I’ll be ready for tile!

Not a Productive Weekend

Friday night I went to a play at Victory Gardens, called “A Park in Our House”, I think. It was ok. About a family in Cuba in the 60s, I’d guess. I enjoyed it and Janet’s friend Becca and I were saying that we liked this one better than the last one we saw. And it’s true in that this one was easier to follow. Funny thing is, I think about the first one “The Defiant Muse”, more. Though I’m pretty sure that this is because I’m still trying to understand it completely. It was about a writer whose main character seemed to come to life for her. So, it jumped back and forth between real-life and life with her character. It was pretty interesting how they did it, but since there were only so many actors, I wasn’t really sure if it was real-life or a scene from her book. Oh well, either way, it’s great to see live theater.

David Sedaris at GSU

I just returned from a David Sedaris reading at Governor’s State University. It was great. He was funny as always. I was a little worried because three of my cousins and their husbands came to the show along with my sister Julie. Julie is familiar with David Sedaris’ books, but I don’t think any of the others were. I was nervous that maybe they wouldn’t enjoy it, but I think everyone had a great time.

iPhone to the Netherlands

John’s friend Mark is going back to the Netherlands today. But since his sim chip worked in John’s iPhone last night, he decided to buy himself one before leaving. So, I met him at John’s apartment and we cracked his phone and got it working. One note is that you should have internet access easily available to do this. Whenever iTunes starts, it wants to access the iTunes Store and you won’t get the annoying error messages if you’re hooked to the internet. Also, since we had no access, I had to use my laptop to “Create Network” to make a wireless network so that I could ssh to the iPhone. To do this, I also had to manually set the ip address, netmask and gateway on the iPhone. It all worked, but would have been quicker if we just had a wireless network to use.

iPhone and EDGE

John’s iPhone works fine on the T-mobile EDGE network. Just use these settings:

Breaking New Toys

My brother John got his second iPhone last week. He returned the first one because he got lousy reception from AT&T in his house. Now that he’s living in a new apartment, he tried it again. And, of course, he still has crappy reception with AT&T. So, he asked me if I’d help him to unlock his phone so that he could use it with T-mobile. Sounded like fun, so I was in. (One drawback was that I wasn’t working on my bathroom while doing this.)

Crazy Marathon Day!

Today was the Chicago Marathon. My sister Julie and I made signs for the people we knew running and went downtown to watch it. It was a bit hot, but as spectators, we stayed in the shade most of the time. We spent the a couple of hours at the halfway point (13.1 miles) where we saw our cousin Greg and Julie’s coworker Cheryl. Then, we biked down to Archer and met up with our brother Paul to watch some more. We saw Greg and Cheryl again and Paul’s boss Roberta. We were heading up to catch up with our cousin who was watching her daughter when we heard that the race had been cancelled. One guy died and a bunch of people ended up getting sick from the heat. I felt bad for the people who did all that training and didn’t get a chance to finish, but it was probably better to stop than to get hurt from the heat.

Happy Birthday to Me!

Today is my birthday, and the annual Mary tradition is to not work, so I’m keeping that one today. I had great plans to go and do something fantastic, but those plans all fell through. So, I’m going to do my usual thing and go downtown to hang out. I also want to go to this new store:

Next.

The more I think about it, the happier I am that I did the half-marathon. I definitely want to train to do another one, but this time to do it for time. I’m pretty sure that I could do it in less than 3 hours, so I’d like to try for that.

It’s Over

Today, I am not working. I took the day off, thinking I would need it to recover from the half-marathon that I ran yesterday. Turns out that I really don’t need it. My muscles are a little sore, but I feel fine. We did not go fast at all in the half-marathon, my time was around 3:18. In fact, I felt so good yesterday that I cleaned out my entire living and dining room, threw out my old couches and went and bought a new one.

My Runs

The Nike Plus website is letting me share my last 5 runs with the world. So, I’ve copied the code and am posting it here to see how it looks.

My Longest Run

Yesterday, after work, I put on my new Brooks running shoes and went for a long run. (Note: It was raining pretty hard, though not when I started.) I was shooting to go around 4 miles because that’s my long distance these days. I ran from my corner to the park and then three times around the park. I thought I’d also run home too, but my calves were feeling really sore and I thought it best to stop there. Turns out that I ran 4 1/2 miles! I had run for over an hour, as I still go pretty slow, averaging a just under a 14 minute mile. Not fast, but not bad, in my opinion. Needless to say, after walking home, I was incredibly sore. The muscles in my legs got really stiff. And they were pretty stiff this morning as well. Later in the day, they got better and now (around 10pm) they’re ok.

My Strange Goal

I’ve had this thing that I’ve wanted to do for a while. I don’t know why I want to do it, but I do. I’d like to say that I’ve ridden every bus or el line in Chicago. And not just taking a ride so that I could say that I’ve ridden it. I want to actually go places which require me to ride every route. I know it’s nuts and I don’t know why I want to do it, but I just do. I’ve ridden a number already and I’m going to create a single page listing all the routes I’ve ridden. Then, as I ride a new bus route or el line, I’ll add them to my list. Today, I rode the #12 Roosevelt and the #9 Ashland (though I’ve ridden that one in the past).

Running

This Sunday, I ran 3.25 miles and felt ok afterwards. Maybe I can do this half-marathon after all.

A Crazy Idea

So, my friend Laurie Strahinski emailed me the other day, asking if I wanted to run a half-marathon with her in August. Now, as I’m easily 50 lbs. overweight, this seems to be a ridiculous idea. But, because I am an idiot, I agreed. I have been going to the gym off and on (more off than on), so it’s not like I’m starting from scratch. My first week, I could run two miles pretty easily. Now, I’m up to three miles in just under 40 minutes. So, I’m not breaking any speed records, but I’m doing ok. I’m trying to run three times a week, though I’m not sure how my knees will hold up.