Last night I got the stairs re-installed, save the bottom and top treads. I still need to do the top kickplate, and cut a new bottom kickplate before the carpet guys show up on Wednesday. I was also able to mount the shelf in the closet firmly on the end, so there’s no more sag, and run two 4″ wood screws through the wall into the frame around the switchbox, so the closet pole is sturdy and ready for hanging. Now to just clean the rest of the crap from behind the workbench and give the place about an hour’s good scouring, and then paint the uncovered parts of the floor, and I’ll consider letting the cats downstairs.

The workmen out back had finished the wall in the backyard about 2 weeks ago, but are just now cutting the concrete pad out back to re-pour the footings (!!!). I toyed with the idea of bribing them to just leave the whole thing unpoured so I could set up the planters on my own time, but then decided against it. I’m just going to buy a bunch of used brick and build new planters over top of the pad.

Looking around the web this morning before I went to work: Laid off. | The Samuel L. Jackson Soundboard. | Nowhere girl, a really well-done graphic novel published online.

These are some truly heroic and very sad photos of the WTC, taken by a guy on his way out of the building.

Date posted: November 9, 2001 | Filed under house, links | Leave a Comment »

Last night, I was able to pull off the bottom and top stair risers and sand/stain them, drawing the Toxic Refinishing portion of the project to a close. They look pretty good; I suppose they could look better, but I need to get them re-installed and finished pretty quick. Once the treads are down, I’ll probably put about 2 more coats of poly on them, but they look pretty good so far. All the backs are covered with 2 coats of white paint so they’ll match the rest of the basement (and not look so frickin’ bad) and at least surface-sanded. The only thing left is the very top kickplate (actually the cross-joist support) which needs to be heat-gunned and sanded/painted.

I also put in the closet pole; the brick wall side went in fine but the closet wall side is a victim of poor planning- I didn’t put any vertical supports in so there’s nothing to nail or tie that support into directly under the drywall. I think what I can do though is put a set of 3″ drywall screws through to the box I made which straddles the 4-pot electrical box on the other side of the wall. If there’s too much vertical stress, I’ll add a 4″ support running from the bottom of the bracket down to the top of the kickplate. Above the closet pole I installed the wire shelf, and this also fell into the ‘should have planned better’ category. There are two central studs in the middle of the wall, but nothing on the ends off the wall, so there’s about a 1′ length that is unsupported- unacceptable. I’m going to buy a third long angle support and try the 3″ screw trick at an angle to try to hit the edge of the stud frame. Other than those issues, it looks great; I’m really happy with the results. Now that the shelves are up I can get to working on the wiring issues.

Next up is getting the stairwell finished- sanding, priming and painting the rest of the uncovered drywall and then painting the whole enclosure. Then I’ll vacuum up the rest of the dust and generally clean up the mess; there’s a lot of covering painting to do, but that can wait for now. I have to wait for my next paycheck to pick up a 4’x4′ sheet of sanded finish plywood-that will be about $25 or so-for the front shelf. I measured out a 4’x’4 square on the floor and laid the two 10″ planks to see if I could get one sheet of wood out of it- it looks to be no problem, although I don’t like the idea of cutting across the grain of the plywood. We’ll see how it goes. I’d like to concentrate on the wiring next, and get the phone and cable hooked up; after that we tackle the admittedly harder job of wiring the RJ-45. I’d also like to do some of the small stuff around the house, like actually cut and install the finish molding in the upstairs hall and clean up the old radiator-area in the front bedroom.

Date posted: November 8, 2001 | Filed under house | Leave a Comment »

Steely Dan seems to be the right selection of music for today. Very melancholy, world-weary, cynical, vaguely optimistic jazz-pop from the 70’s.

Last night, after throwing my non-functional Uniden portable phone at the floor and breaking it in an attempt at leaping two flights of stairs between four rings of the phone, I was able to sand and stain all but one of the stair risers, mount the telco junction box on the wall, and cut a piece of trim to fit between the top of the closet doorway and the joists. The basement is now filled with toxic lead paint dust, and surely killing me slowly. Yay.

Date posted: November 7, 2001 | Filed under house, music | Leave a Comment »

This morning I read that the Mr. Showbiz site is defunct- Disney pulled the plug on it and redirected it to the ABC site, which now pops up two ads. F–king mouse. Not that I looked at it a lot anyway, but every once in awhile I wound up there, linked off another site. On a related not, some of the first links in Google for the search term anti-disney come up with some disturbing sites. The first guy-and I’m not linking to his site-seems to have a problem with the “Gay Issue” (his capitalization) but he doesn’t want to cover it for fear of losing sight of Disney’s “other sins”. Some of the others are just silly.

Mapquest has this service where they show you satellite photos of the address you plug in when you come to the map view. So here’s my house, somewhere in the center of that last shot.

I’m just looking back and realizing this is the first time I’ve been able to keep up with a daily journal of sorts; with the exception of June, I was able to make an average of about 5 entries a week since the end of march. I’m thinking what I might do is take a snapshot of my Palm Pilot, where I kept track of what I was doing then, and post it on the June page, so I at least have a reference as to what I was doing.

Brushing up on some of the home networking sites now that I’m going to attempt this thing; I also found a few sites that support DNS services for dynamic IP’s, i.e. DSL or cable services. Going to buy the box for the wiring tonight and put it in while the paint dries on the stair risers. I can’t wait to get a good night in on the basement- I’m excited to make some progress.

12:31am – Anybody else notice that our Commander-In-Chief, the guy we barely voted in office (and who didn’t have a clue where Afghanistan was on a map until last November), while giving a teleconferenced speech to assembled international heads of state in a UN council meeting yesterday, pronounced the word nuclear “nu-cu-lur”?

So many people are crying about how phony they feel to see people waving flags and putting up signs that say “God Bless America”, etc. Know what? I think it’s great. I don’t think this completely fractured, divided, schizophrenic culture we call America has felt like a greater part of something in a long time- since probably around the early 60’s. I like to see that people have pride in something. Not their Mustang 5.0, not their nails, but something greater than the sum of their parts. What I do have a problem with is the new idea that we can’t criticize or question our government now that we are ‘at war’. I think, given this new feeling of patriotism sweeping the country, that now is the ideal time to question our actions in the far east, starting with how we got involved there back in the 70’s, and actually learn something about them. And I think we should start by questioning the guys who put the wheels in motion back then, namely Messrs. Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Bush Sr.

Date posted: November 6, 2001 | Filed under geek, politics | Leave a Comment »

Jen and I got back from Virginia yesterday, after a fantastic weekend in the back woods looking for wineries. We found three of four vineyards in a tour, and had some great wine, only getting lost once. Saturday we took our time getting up and moving and made it down to Fredericksburg right around dinnertime; bypassing the crappy strip-mall fare right off the interstate, we followed the signs into the middle of the town and parked, then walked about 2 blocks to a restaurant we found called Le Petite Auberge. Inside, after walking up a wide hall decorated with very tacky Leroy Neiman ripoff paintings, we had an outstanding meal together: lobster bisque and cream of tomato soup; I had a sirloin covered in roquefort cheese and pecans (sounds like too much, but damn, it was good) and Jen had a filet with a peppercorn sauce-that was great.

After a restful night spent at the Ramada Inn and a breakfast thrown at us at an Aunt Sarah’s, we followed the maps into the heart of cantral VA in search of the Lake Anna winery, which was a beautiful new place set back off the road and serving a really wide variety of wine. Jen and I bought two bottles of merlot and I bought a cabernet. Cooper vineyards were a little less established, basically a tractor shed about ¼ off the road behind a Chevy truck graveyard, but staffed by a real nice Lasik surgeon and his wife. Very sweet wine, and very young. Greyhaven was a bit more established, but only serving two sweet dessert wines; luckily the owners were a wonderful old-Virginia couple who owned a gospel-loving Boston Terrier named Bubba and a huge hairy Bouvier named Reubens, who was pouting on the seat of a golf cart-long story. We got lost on the way to the final vineyard and as it was 5pm and we were outside Richmond, we wisely decided to give up and head for home, forfeiting our T-shirts. Oh, well.

I found this trying to find a link to the restaurant. We’ll keep this in mind….

1:01pm – Jen sent this to me this morning under the subject line OH, MY GOD, I’VE DIED AND GONE TO HEAVEN and I took a little time to follow it around- what a hilarious site this is. There’s more stuff to laugh at than you can shake a stick at. I think I’m going to buy her the “Unsaved” T-shirt just to piss her mom off…! Personally, I like the preacher man logo.

5:20pm – I didn’t get to buy the wiring cabinet last week, but I’ll pick it up tomorrow; I’m also gonna pick up that steel shelving I want for the tupperware at Sam’s Club too. It’s time to get all that junk out of the dining room. I’ve had enough of it. I’m currently burning a copy of the House of Blues Volume 2 for this evening; I’m also making Jen some Veal Scallopini with green beans for dinner instead of going to Peter’s- I think she’ll enjoy the surprise.

Date posted: November 3, 2001 | Filed under Trip Logs | Leave a Comment »

Well, another one bites the dust- EA Engineering redid their website, and I have to say with no small bit of modesty that it looks about 1,000 times worse than the site I did for them 4 years ago.

Not a whole lot getting done on the basement this week. I got all but two of the stairs pulled up, and I got the tread faces sanded with 60 grit paper, but I need to finish-sand the others and then sand the bottoms. I’m going to use the old stair kickplates for the new treads, removing 1 layer of paint off the bottom, and use the old treads for the new kickplates. The old treads were just so destroyed from years of abuse, the edges were chewed off-then painted over. Taking layers of paint and varnish off the tops of the old treads was just so time consuming, and the treads were just so messed up, this seemed to be the best way to do things. I stained one tread last night and looked at it today, and it’s OK- there’s some discoloration at the edges, but the tone is relatively even and clean, and the wood is beautifully deep and rich in color.

I was also able to buy a 4′ wire shelf-that shelving you see in those ‘custom closet’ pictures, where it’s dipped in white vinyl. With brackets, arms, and shelf included, the whole thing was $10. You just can’t beat that. Now I have to do some work to find exactly where the studwork is and install it and the hanger pole on the right side of the closet. I’m also going to pick up the steel case for the A/V wiring today-it’s about $40-but I like the idea of keeping all the dust and crap out of the wiring bundle. Next I need to figure out how to wire up the DSL switch and mount it to the wall- it has no brackets or mounting hardware at all. Once the A/V cabinet is installed, I’m going to re-wire the phone line from the entry point at the basement door through to the closet. Currently it’s a mess, and dates back about 40 years.

Network Solutions just emailed me with the invoice for; I’m going to let it lapse, because I have noplace to host it, nor do I have the time to update it. So I’ll archive the pictures and dump the domain name, unless my pop wants to buy it.

God is broke. This is funny, and also a little creepy. Read the FAQ section.

Date posted: November 2, 2001 | Filed under house | Leave a Comment »

This is a color I would never have used in a million years.

Just got off the phone with the carpet guys. We have an appointment on the 14th to have the carpeting installed. Halleleujah, amen. Let’s get this done and over with, already.

What else is going on? I found this article on the Baltimore Business Journal today- these guys were the agency of record for one of my previous employers. I felt bad for them- we charged them with designing a message for us and the upper management that ran our company’s marketing strategy could never come up with a graspable description of what it was we did. We would go into meetings with them and they would present their ideas, and our VP’s and his toadies would wave their arms around and yell that they hadn’t ‘gotten our core message’. And then our VP would get out his little pens and scribble all over the whiteboard, and come up with some form of garbled diagram (that was changing just about every other day) and then fold his arms and smile that smug little “I make more money than you do, and my resume proves that I don’t crap anything but little piles of gold” smile, and then say condecendingly, “OK? Go to it. That’s what we’re paying you for.”

And the poor Cornerstone guys would just look at him, and the circles of sweat under their arms would grow, and you could tell they had absolutely no idea of how to translate this ‘message’ into something visual or explainable (believe me, it was impossible- I tried for a year and a half). I daresay they are psyched they don’t have that account anymore.

On a related note- ha fucking ha. This is funny too– I’m wondering if it’s worth it. And finally, I found this little excerpt from a particular guy who we used to work with-and I’m not making this up-about his new company:

“Prior to such an agreement on interenterprise business processes for forecasting and replenishment, all we had was agreement on data standards. With the increased awareness of the need for realtime process synchronization across enterprise boundaries, we are going to see more such standardization on inter-enterprise processes-whether it is for transportation, logistics, procurement, or financials for multiple enterprises in a multi-tier value chain.”

Date posted: November 1, 2001 | Filed under general | Leave a Comment »