July 4, 2017

Happy Independence Day

Grand Rapids did their fireworks on Saturday, July 2nd, and we were right on the water behind DeVos Place... where we were not supposed to be, I might add.

I had the idea that if we parked north of the city and watched the show from Riverside Park, Canal Park, or 6th Street Bridge Park we could see the show and avoid the worst of the crowds. But we just kept walking, past all the parks and we still couldn't find a spot. 

Heidi had the idea that we could cut through the DeVos Place parking garage and come out on the other side, effectively circumventing the blocked sidewalk. That didn't work when we realized the gates were down on the Lyon St exit. So she rerouted and went into the building, where we wandered around a bit until we found ourselves infiltrating the 2017 annual convention of the Church of the Brethren. We joined them on the back patio to watch the fireworks, but the trees blocked most of the view. So we slipped back into the building, down a bit and back out to the riverside walk. The closed section of the riverside walk, where only the convention attendees were allowed. And then we watched some fire works.

It wasn't our intention, but it worked out pretty well.

Happy Independence Day. Have fun and stay safe.

June 30, 2017

New Ride

2017 chevrolet impala
On the way home from school Wednesday night the Malibu died and had to be towed to the dealership. That turned out to be a rather pricey repair, coming in at over $750. The Malibu is just about 5-years old, out of warranty, and with 60,000 miles on the odometer it’s getting to the point where a certain amount of work is going to be needed.

Time to pull the trigger on a new car.

Perhaps, I just have the bug. My son just bought a new car, my uncle just bought a new car, Dale is always buying something, and I’m feeling left out. I want something new.

We were thinking the next vehicle was going to be an SUV, but after test driving the Equinox, we decided that it was just too much like a minivan. I’ve always been a car guy and while I would have been okay with the SUV, I was happy to pass it by and get a car.

It doesn’t handle like the Malibu, but it’s 305 hp V6 matches the Malibu and will hit 60 in 6.1 seconds and that is quicker than either my Malibu or my Camaro. And I must say it sounds pretty good doing so. It’s a step up, going from the mid-size Malibu to the full-size Impala, but to compensate for that we had to step down from the LTZ (now called Premium) trim level to the LT. We lose some of the bells and whistles, but even still, this car has a lot of impressive standard features.

I hope we get a lot of good years out of this car. I can say, less than a day into living with it, I like it.

it's a big car

June 29, 2017

Making the Grade

With the first half of the Summer semester done and two of my three classes complete, here's how I'm doing:

Government, which promises to be an interesting class, will run through the 14th of August, then I'll get a short break and go back to 4-nights a week in the fall.

thumbs up

June 28, 2017


Last night I put down the second layer of subfloor to bring the floor level with the hallway and then hung all but one piece of the remaining sheetrock (I have to get behind the shower to make an adjustment and install a bracket I forgot). But even so, I feel like it was a productive night after a busy day.

Tonight, was the first American Government class for the wife and I. On the way to school, the car started acting odd; sputtering and stalling, indicators coming on and service warnings appearing, and limited speeds. It was an odd bit of work, so I called the dealership and arranged to get it in first thing in the morning… It didn’t last that long. Leaving school it started, grudgingly and after stalling twice. On the way home it just stopped, the motor stalled and wouldn’t restart. It’s probably a sensor or module of some sort that has gone bad.

Whatever the case, Great Lakes Towing came and picked up the car and took it to the dealership and Zachary took a break from work and brought us home. All in all, it was quite an exciting evening and one that has me thinking about a new vehicle.

I'm taking the next bunch of days off to get this project as close to completion as I can. I go back to work next Thursday, so the challenge is to see how far I get.

June 25, 2017

Time for Sheetrock

Another day, another update on the main bathroom.

Today, I fixed everything in place. A few shims and it's all square and plum, which is important if we decide to install shower doors. If we go with a curtain, it's not so important. Once everything was shimmed and plumbed and screwed in place, then it was time to hang some drywall.

in place and awaiting use
I probably could have gotten all the sheetrock up, but I still need to add another layer to the floor to bring it level with the hallway and to lock in the bottom of the tub. It just seems like getting that down first will be the easier way to do things.

A couple things about this tub/shower that I feel I should share. It's a Sterling Ensemble, which is made by Kohler, who have a pretty good reputation. The first thing is that this unit is made of a far heavier and denser material than the Delta shower unit I put in the basement. It seems more susceptible to cracking and crumbling, and yet, feels more durable. The second thing, was in drilling the holes was surprising, this stuff is tough and rather than doing a burn/melt as the drill went through, it instead created a very fine powder. I recommend a mask when cutting this stuff. It feels very strong, and with the mortar base underneath, it has no give. I think we're going to be very happy with this unit and I hope we get a lot of years out of it. If we don't, I'm sure you'll be hearing about it.

June 24, 2017

Long Day in a Small Room

Today, I spent the day in the bathroom, or what was once a bathroom, and hopefully will be one again soon. These kinds of projects take me far more time than they should, mostly, because I'm deathly afraid of doing it wrong or ruining the stuff I've bought. Anyway, today was a day full of visible progress:

  • Set bathtub on a bed of mortar, leveled, and secured to walls.
  • Plumbed in the new tub/shower water valve.
  • Drilled holes in and put up the shower walls, but have not yet secured them in place.
  • Realized I don't have the right stuff to finish the drain for the tub.

The tub is level and holds water, as an additional bonus, it does not leak. There is hot and cold running water to it... again, no leaks. These are good things and sure signs that progress is being made.
Heidi kept popping in with her camera, so I asked her to give me some pictures to post. These are what she gave me.

June 23, 2017

Blueprint Reading Final

Last night was the final exam for my HVAC Blueprint Reading course. That went pretty well, I think I can expect an A in the class and an A on the exam. Monday will be the final exam for my HVAC Code class and then Wednesday we start Government, we being the wife and I. We're going to take another class together because we had so much fun in English.

May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day

Saturday was a busy day for everybody around here: the Mother's Day rush was going on at work for the missus, the youngest boy went to prom, the middle boy bought a new car, my sister-in-law got engaged, and I built the most, totally jacked, out of square laundry sink cabinet ever.

I just don't have the tools for making cabinets. My table saw just is not made for projects this size, and it shows in the final product. But rather than rebuild it, I just jammed it in place and leveled it up with shims.

Sure, I still need to put a door on it, put a counter top and sink on it, and paint it. But it is what it is and I think it'll work fine.

Today, I put down the vinyl flooring and patched up some of the drywall. I plan on both changing the material of, and boxing in, the dryer vent. Also, I'm going to build a 'hanging wall' from which to mount the upper cabinets. They need to be pushed forward, as they would be too far away to reach if I mounted them to the existing wall.

Everything is a project and every project is actually three. It never gets old.


I'm kind of jumping the gun with the flooring, but it really needed to be done. Besides, how long can I walk around the giant roll of vinyl flooring in the basement.

I would love to say that I did this for the mother of my children, as a Mother's Day gift... But I can't. I do more laundry than she does. I'm the one who is annoyed by this room. I have to admit that it was just the project of the day. I bought a Chinese feast for Mother's Day; that was my contribution. She didn't have to cook. She didn't have to get ready. She had the whole day to do whatever she wanted. Happy Mother's Day.

So, that was my weekend in a nutshell.

Happy Mother's Day to all  the mothers out there. We wouldn't be here without you.

May 7, 2017

Goes So Fast

The vacation bathroom remodel did not go as smoothly as I had hoped. The tear out had some surprises; what with the mold, rotted flooring, and some framing issues. After I had the room gutted and stripped down to bare studs and floor joists, it rained for two days straight. Which made it difficult to pick up drywall and plywood without it getting wet. But once I picked up the supplies and put the floor down I still didn't know what I was doing with the tub and surround.

I didn't like anything from the home centers, they all felt very flimsy, so I ordered one from Ferguson plumbing... That will take as much as 6-weeks to arrive. At least I have the dimensions of the unit so that I could rough in the tub enclosure.

So I roughed in the framing, but had to move the plumbing around to make it work. As long as I had the walls down, I installed an electrical outlet up high in our bedroom so that we can hang the TV and not have any visible cords. That worked out nice. I patched the hole from the old laundry chute, fixed a few things I didn't approve of, and then I used some left over sound deadening insulation to fill the wall between the bedroom and the bathroom. Finally, I put up a few sheets of drywall (key word here is few).

Even that didn't go as expected, as I'm going to need to add another thinner layer of flooring to match the hallway floor, and as a result I started hanging the drywall at the ceiling. I don't want  to have the drywall in the way to do that.

And then today I spent all day cleaning up the garage, basement, and office from the after effects of the weeks projects. Everything is all nice and straightened, but I did not get nearly as far as I'd hoped with the bathroom. Waiting on the tub surround is going to put a big stop in this project, as I really want that in place to do my drywall. Anyway, here's a look at the project as it stands today.

Tomorrow is the start of the Summer semester at GRCC, so I'll be busy as all get out from now through August 14th. This project may take a while to get done, but as my beautiful wife likes to say, "It'll look so nice when it's done."

May 2, 2017

Report Card: Winter 2017

The grades for Winter semester have all been posted, so let's take a look at how I did in my second semester back in college.

First, let me say that going from 2-nights a week + an online class, to a 4-night a week schedule was a big change and one that may have taken some of the shine off this whole college thing. My grades are not bad, but I have to admit being disappointed and I know why they took the hit. Reading. Or rather the lack of reading. I trusted in my ability to pick up everything I needed to know in class and mostly stopped doing the weekly reading before we'd even gotten to the halfway point in the semester. I think that shows in both my test scores and my final grades. Now let's look at each class individually.

EN 102 - English Composition 2
I did not get much out of this class. I did the assignments, well, except for the note cards for the research paper. I didn't do that. But otherwise I did it all. Mostly my grades seemed lower than I felt they should be, but there was no explanation as to why. I like writing. I like learning about writing. I didn't get any of that in this class. I think I could have gotten more out of it had I taken this class online with a InstructorBotAI teaching the class. I'm not happy that I came away with an A- from this class. And I am inclined to call "bullshit" on the whole thing, except that had I done the stupid note cards those 40 pts would have given me an A.

HVA 110 Basic Refrigeration
I liked this class, but I found that I knew most of what was being taught already and that caused me to be a little lax. I missed one class, and sure as shit, that one covered a bunch of stuff I didn't know and had a lab I couldn't make up. Missing that class and not doing the required reading messed up my final exam score. All of it was my fault. Lesson learned. Also, weirdly, I didn't realize until I was in this class that it was a shorty - seven weeks. Which is how I ended up with four classes.

HVA 111 Refrigeration Applications
The second half of the semester follow-up to HVA 110. This is the class that I did the cooler project for; this was a fun class. I missed one class and there was a lab, a take home test, and a discussion on parts of refrigeration I am unfamiliar with... don't it just figure. I couldn't make any of that up and between those lost points and a week final exam score (83%) I got stuck with an A-. I did however get a 96% on my final project/lab report. At a bare minimum, you gotta do the reading in the field you're getting your degree in.

MN 116 Basic Welding
I enjoyed this class, but like most things of this sort, welding is harder than it looks. I was frustrated by the fact that I didn't pick it up faster and my expectations were probably too high for my skill level. I learned some things. I bought some tools and equipment. I look forward to getting a welding set up and working on some projects. In class, I managed to get 25 out of 26 welds completed, my scores on the three tests were 100%, 80%, & 70% (not reading impact readily visible here), and ended up with a 91.4 in the class. I did the best I could with the welding, but I should have done better or those tests and I recognize that it's because I didn't do the reading or put in any study time for this class.

May 1, 2017

Walking A Balancing Beam

I did not get as much done today as I wanted. I had a slow start, was sidetracked by a few other issues, and simply didn't do enough. I did get the old, nasty floor up and out to the curb, I arranged for the Bagster to get picked-up tomorrow or Wednesday, picked up some of the supplies I'll need to move on to the next step, and still had time to watch two episodes of Luke Cage with my wife.
pulling up floorspeeking into the basement
I took my work van in to get the AC fixed and the door adjusted. Upon returning home, I see that the garbage man took away the old tub along with all the other trash, which is awesome.

Tomorrow, I need to pick-up some plywood to replace the subfloor and some gypsum board for the walls. I'm going to rebuild the plumbing box there in the corner, so I guess I'll need to get some 2x4s as well.

That is the update for today's progress report... less than impressive, I know.