As mentioned before, I took Friday off to drive Jen’s Dad up to Pennsylvania to have his driver’s license renewed, and the trip went as well as a daylong drive to the DMV could have gone. I was on the road early, we got through the northbound Baltimore traffic with little difficulty, and were sitting in the waiting area of the York PennDOT licensing center by 12:30. It should be noted that the caliber of humanity at the Maryland DMV is equal to that of the Pennsylvania DMV—it all resembles a methadone clinic. Two hours after arriving we walked out with a shiny new license and celebrated with a trip to the Cracker Barrel. Then, the ride home: I pulled into our driveway at about 8:30PM.
We were invited to be a part of our niece and nephew’s baptism this weekend, which was a great honor for Jen and I as the pseudo-godparents. The Catholics don’t want heathens in this role so we will pinch-hit when the Father, Son and Holy Ghost aren’t looking (which we’d be doing anyways). First up was Bear’s birthday on Saturday, where we gathered with a bunch of other parents and watched the kids play in a giant bouncy castle in their backyard. Thank god that was on Saturday, because Sunday just rained on and off all day.
Because I couldn’t be outside, I putzed around the house and cleaned the basement up a bit. I’m on the verge of a major cleanout and a trip to Goodwill sometime this week, and I’ve got a pile of stuff up in the hallway all ready to go. The tools are mostly organized but I’m not happy with how they’re all separated, so I’ll have to rethink that whole situation later. I also started piecing in components of Dad’s old surround system into our A/V setup, which is a revelation in technology for this house. I brought his HDMI-switching amplifier home and installed it, as well as a center channel speaker, and ran some speaker wire up the pole so that all the wiring is hidden. We watched Game of Thrones last night and could actually hear what people were saying!
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Brian has been asking if we’ve used the shower yet since the day he left, so we finally gathered together and tried it out before the birthday party on Saturday. The verdict: it’s lovely. The river stones feel wonderful on my feet, and the shower itself is modern and warm. There’s a big difference standing in there vs. standing in the cast iron tub in the main bathroom; the cold seeps in under the tub and makes your feet chilly. This is a wonderful, modern new addition to our house and I’m energized to get more progress made in there. The next things to deal with are:
The electrical: I’ve got my neighbor tentatively scheduled to drop by sometime this week to hook up the floor and some of the switches;
The closet door: a new prehung door in the style we want will be about $500 plus delivery, so I’ve got to sit tight until the war chest refills to get that ordered.
A toilet: there’s nothing stopping us from buying and installing one at this point.
Cabinets: this is the BIG thing that we’ve got to save and plan for.
Here’s where the bathroom at Bob’s stands. To recap, the Thompson Creek guys came and replaced the whole tub/shower section after I did all of the demo. I patched up the subfloor and put in 1/2″ tile backer board on the bare section last week, and we sourced and ordered new tile. I rented a tile saw up here and brought it with us to get the cuts done. I had to work fast to beat the clock due to a late start and Lowe’s getting the tile order wrong; After going back to exchange three boxes of the wrong tile with the right stuff, I got the floor marked off, some mastic mixed, and started laying it down. The tile saw wasn’t aligned properly so the first three cuts I made were off by 1/8″ over each foot, but once I sorted out the angle I made the cuts freehand and got it done. The other MVP was a little tile blade I bought when I did the backsplashes in the kitchen: they helped with the cuts around the toilet flange and small trim cuts elsewhere.
So the floor is in and curing. Next up will be floating all the grout to get things sealed in place. That shouldn’t take too long; following that I’ll set a vanity in place and putting some kind of moulding around the floor edge.
Well, this week has been a real test of my sanity; there were points when I felt like I was doing OK and at other times I was a terrible husband, father, and Co-Acting-Director-whatever. I’m not used to the sheer amount of meetings coming at us now, and the immediate need to be caught up with all of the inside information we don’t know is overwhelming. My friend Lauren comiserated with me last week, saying, one day you’re looking around for the adult in the room to make a decision, and you suddenly realize that’s you. So much truth in that observation.
Stories to Watch launched on time after an intense three weeks of shooting, editing, organizing, and producing. This year’s production was, in a lot of ways, easier than last year’s (and I wasn’t trapped in my bedroom with COVID, which was nice) but other stressors were still front and center up until the morning of the event. The video portion, if I do say so, looked fantastic. We got a lot of great feedback on the presentation, and when I was in the office later that day, my CEO found me and shook my hand to thank me and the team for all our work. That felt very good.
I was in the office not for the event, but because I had to help another team mix epoxy and glue laser-etched plaques to the front of five trophies that had been 3D printed with sand and shipped from Germany. Don’t let ’em tell you different: the life of a Co-Acting-Director-whatever is full of glamour. Due to some internal production confusion we had to source the plaques and some laser-cut felt to complete the pieces in-house, so I brought tools and a pile of nitrile gloves and we got down to business. They made me glue and set the plaques: no pressure. This coming Tuesday I’m headed up to New York City to help produce the awards event itself, where I’ll be shooting video. Two nights in Manhattan ain’t so bad, I guess.
Meanwhile we visited with Jen’s Dad last Saturday, and I got to work setting a subfloor in the common bathroom. This involved cutting and fitting two sheets of waterproof hardi-board, mixing a bed of thinset, and setting them in place before screwing everything down. It went in with only a few small hitches, and should be good to go for the next step: this coming weekend I’m renting a wet saw and laying the tile. It did involve a ton of work on my knees, cutting, fitting, troweling, and screwing, and I felt it in my back that evening. Between that and 9-hour days at my desk my whole body is pretty pissed at me right now. Hazel got her first walk in 5 days this afternoon; it was like we’d sprung her from Solitary.
And the built-in project is moving along. I found a decent 12′ board for the top shelf and cut it into place. Then I cut and fit small insets under each of the shelves that dress up the horizontals and give them a little visual weight. Jen and I discussed how to finish off the top and after some negotiation we agreed upon a solution to box in and frame out the top shelf with a section of moulding that matches the stuff above all our windows. So I’ve got to get a 12′ piece of that from the mill in Glen Burnie on a dry sunny day ’cause it won’t fit inside the car.
Wow, look at that. Fifteen years ago this week I started demoing the old exam room in preparation for a renovation; I think it was this same day Jen came in and told me she’d just gotten a positive result on a pregnancy test.
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I’ve been using a cast-off MacBook Pro from work for email since before the pandemic; I have one good machine cobbled together from multiple out-of-service 2013 Retina models—this one has a drive from one machine, a replacement battery from another, and a screen from a third. It’s serviceable for what I’m doing on it, mainly email, photo selection/cataloguing, and other basics. But I’m stuck at OS 10.14 on this machine and I’d really like to upgrade to the latest version for security and modern features. It can’t talk to my iPad, which kind of sucks. It suffers from random 1-5 second freezes. There are some applications I can’t run anymore.
I think it’s time to upgrade my personal system here, given that the last truly new MacBook I bought was back in 2011, funded partially by the sale of my previous laptop. I’m looking at something ligher and slimmer (and cheaper) than a true MacBook Pro, which points at a MacBook Air: They’ve just updated the model to the new M2 chip and it goes head-to-head with the 13″ MBP with only a few minor omissions that I don’t care about at all. I’m waiting for a large expense report check to come in from work, and when that does, I’m going to pull the trigger.
2022 was an odd year for a lot of reasons. World events just seemed to get stranger and stranger; 2012 Bill would have laughed at a description of the state of the world in 2022. Shit, 2021 Bill is still trying to process the last twelve months.
Most of the progress we made this year was at a house we don’t live in. Having spent every weekend between the end of March to the beginning of November and my father in law’s, I’m proud of the work the three of us did to improve his quality of life, as much as it took out of us. That meant that there’s little to show for our efforts here at the house. Our vacation to Austin was fantastic; everything about the trip was better than I could have hoped. We all got COVID at different times of the year, and apart from Jen’s missing taste and smell we came through OK. There have been a lot of challenges over the last twelve months, some of which we overcame and some of which we’re still working through.
Over here at the weblog, I’ve kept busy; the frequency of posts has fallen off slightly, but I’m averaging about 20 a month.
Lining up the category counts, it’s interesting to see what’s been focused on and what hasn’t. Clearly I’m not using some of the categories, so I’m going to consolidate some and add some new ones. Some of these categories are artificially inflated—everything posted on the Scout blog gets cross-posted here, and every post with a photo linked from Flickr gets tagged “photo”. I think categories like Album of the Week and Favorite Things will be decommissioned and I’ll find new homes for those few posts.
It’s five degrees outside, but with the wind the temperature is negative ten. Hazel got up with Finley and wanted to go outside, so I put on a pair of bike tights under my jeans, bundled in my puffy down coat, and took her for a walk around the school. After about ten minutes I couldn’t feel my face, even though the sun was out and shining. We did a short loop, only 1/3 our normal route, and headed back inside for warm coffee and warmer paws.
Apart from the wind taking the power down for about five minutes and a brief hiccup without FIOS until I reset the battery, we made it through the storm just fine. Down the street there’s a tree that’s been dead for years, rotten from the inside and with a hole in its trunk that we pass daily on our walk; it finally blew over in the storm and out onto Frederick Road.
I took the girls out for a fancy Christmas dinner at the Milton Inn on Thursday evening as part of our advent activities. The Milton Inn was a famous restaurant for years and recently closed its doors during COVID, but was reopened by the Foreman Group as part of their portfolio. We were treated to a fantastic meal: Jen had a griled venison leg in cognac and peppercorn sauce, Finn had the duck leg confit, and I had a prix fixe menu with a plate of oysters to start and seared veal in a wine reduction for my main course. They paired two excellent glasses of wine with our meals and made Finn a delicious virgin cocktail. We ate every bite, left happy and stuffed, and I think we all went straight to bed when we got home.