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.

April 30, 2017

Sunday Revelations

I've been sucking in black mold like a 10-year-old sucks pop rocks... I'm feeling feisty.

I managed to get the tub, vanity, and toilet out and the drywall taken down. I even went and started pulling the floor up, but today has not been without its little treats.

You know how they say, everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth... ouch.

Today has been full of revelations.

It was revealed to me that despite my plan to reuse my existing vanity, it's a busted up PoS and that is not going to happen. But at least I can reuse my sink. Maybe. If the couple of scars it received today can be smoothed out, buffed, and polished. If those things happen, yes, yes I can reuse the sink. Grrrr.

There are three layers of floor in my bathroom. SWEET. It's like a super-thick casserole of press-board and plywood full of nails and staples and screws.. And each layer is more rotted and moldy than the one above it. Here take a gander as I peel away the inch and a half of flooring, layer by layer.
layer after layer of surprises
So much rotted, moldy flooring for such a small room. Honestly, I don't know how they did it. And, oh yes, that bottom layer is just as rotted and weak as it looks. Watch your step or you'll go right through it.

So, that is it for today. Tomorrow I'll pull up that last layer of flooring and start cleaning up so I can put it back together properly. You know, without leaks or mold.

Saturday in the Can

Let's take a look back at the progress we made yesterday on my bathroom remodel project. I woke up, had some coffee, decided how I was going to approach this, and then turned this.
throne room at the start of the day
Into something that looked like this when the wife walked through the door after work. It's a small change, but I like to think that it's the little details that really make the biggest differences.

welcome to the nightmare
I had envisioned a scenario where I would basically pull all the tile walls down in tact and drag them to the bagster... That is not in anyway what happened. That back wall did come out in three pieces, but everything else involved making a lot of small (very sharp) pieces of ceramic and crumbled cement board. It did not go as quickly, or as smoothly, as I had planned.

I did get it fairly well cleaned up by the end of the day. I mean, you can still use most everything in the room.
only slightly creepy
The plan for today is to get the rest out (tub, toilet, vanity) and remove the rest of the drywall. I'm taking it down to the studs and starting from scratch.

I've got 8-days left, and that's plenty of time to make this into an unfinished project. ;)

April 25, 2017

Wrapping Up the Winter Semester

Not sure where the time went. It's been a mad rush around here for the last couple weeks. But it's slowed down enough now  that I was able to come home and mow the lawn... am I a lucky guy or what.

Monday was the final exam in my Welding class. I stunk it up, only getting 70 out of 100 points. I attribute this to the fact that I stopped doing the reading for that class around week 4.  I did hustle and get all but one of my welds done, and managed a nasty UV burn doing it. I'm expecting an A in the class, but I won't know for sure for another week or so.


I had my sleeves pushed up and that's where my gloves don't cover. Still red and still hurts more than a week later.

Tonight, I dropped off the written report on my lab project for my Refrigeration Applications class. I feel good about the report and how I did in the class, I'm expecting an A in that one as well.

And I just submitted my final exam for my English class online. Not sure where I stand in that class; could get an A, could get a B. Too much stuff that hasn't been graded yet to know for sure.

So that's it for the Winter Semester at GRCC. I have the rest of this week and all of next week to relax, recover, and regroup before jumping back into the 4-night schedule again in the Spring Semester.

April 9, 2017

Photo Gallery for Refrigeration Project

I spent the weekend working on my refrigeration project for school. I finished the welding the lines, did all the electrical wiring, and pulled the system into a deep vacuum. I let the vacuum pump run all night and it pulled it down to 270 microns, but wouldn't go any further. Still, well below the 500 micron threshold.

It is coming along nicely. Here is a gallery I created to document the work. I'll update it as the work continues.

April 2, 2017

Acetone Paint Removal

ugly bases. ugly paint.
Do you remember these guys? A little something I picked up on eBay a while back with the intention of repainting them or some-such. These are some Italian collectibles with terrible paint jobs. But beggars can't be choosers, so we make do with what we can. I'm a big fan of the musketeers and nobody makes decent collectibles for them. You can get Conan, Red Sonja, or superheroes all over the place, but you ask for musketeers or Robin Hood and you get nothin'. So you get stuck making or customizing your own.

Well, they've moved around the office a bit, without really finding a home. Until Sunday, I hadn't done much with them. I have just had no time for craft projects. But as I was working with oil-based paint and needed to get out the acetone anyway...

the resin is a little stained
ran that acetone through a coffee filter and put it back in the can
I pulled them off their bases and gave them a bath. A little scrubbing and the paint ran right off them. they've got some pink and a bit of yellow left on them, but that is where the resin was stained and a coat of primer will cover that up. Then I can either paint them up or give them an antique wash, I haven't decided which.

Two things of note. Some of the thin bits became rather soft and malleable in the acetone, I'm hoping they'll harden back up, but it is something you should be aware of if you try this. And secondly, that is a painted surface on my table saw.... acetone will fuck that shit up... I'm just saying.

One Head Lamp

I noticed coming home from school on Thursday that the Bookmobile has a head lamp out and the timing belt is starting to make a racket like it's time for a replacement. It's making a lot of other noises, creaks, and rattles too, but it is 25-years old. I think I can wait a bit on the timing belt, but I need to get a lamp before I end up getting a ticket.

And speaking of head lamps, this one was finally put to work.

$30 at the home depot

I picked myself up one of those head lamps with the elastic band a while back and just got around to trying it out. These things are awesome. Sure, you look a little silly, but the light goes right where you're looking.

It puts out 300 lumens, has three brightness settings, has a IPX7 waterproof rating, and the light itself is part of an adjustable housing so you can angle it up or down. It's pretty comfortable and I don't know why I waited so long before getting one. This thing is a great addition to my tool box and I would have no qualms about recommending it to anybody who asked. I've used it twice in the last week and not having to hold, or find a place to set, a flashlight is very helpful. The first time I used it was even in front of other people... while it is very useful, it is not a fashion statement.

yes, i do look silly

April 1, 2017

Office Desk Update

I couple weeks back I pulled my office desk out into the garage for an overhaul and while it is not done, it is at least functional once again. I still need to finish the trim, build drawers, sand and paint, and make some feet for it to stand on, but I'm using it.
desk front
desk back
I decided to revamp the plan; I took away the second set of drawers and replaced them with a leaf, making it into an L-shaped desk. Which actually works better, given that it is less deep than a regular desk because of the book shelf and having the extra space underneath gives me a place to hide the computer without adversely affecting my leg room. The overly-tall monitor stand is temporary. I plan on mounting the monitors to the wall, but until I find a system I like, I wanted to be able to put the speakers underneath and out of the way. It puts the monitors up too high, but I do like having the space beneath them.

I dragged the office chair and old living room chair up from the basement. The first so that Heidi (or Cooper) has a spot to sit when visiting and the later because I was sick of sitting on a folding chair. The visitors chair is too big for the space it's in and the office chair is Heidi's, but I think both help the room look finished. And anyway, she doesn't use her office/craft room, so she can lend me her chair for a bit.

I'm pretty happy with the progress and the way it's turning out.

it's getting there