pyoor_excuse: (house)
Today I had a few little jobs planned. Turn off the water, cap off the leaking pipes, cap off the bathroom sink taps (where the valves didn't work) so I could remove the sink and the rotting subfloor below and the leaking drain, cap off the leaking cold tap from the laundry area. I'd spent yesterday digging out my plumbing tools - although I can't find my awesome little pipe cutter*.

Rothenburger self-tightening clip on pipe cutter

Instead I had one of the tedious manual-tightening one that seems to be all that I can see in the store here**. Still, with only 2 pipes to cut (I thought), it wouldn't be so much of a problem. Of course, to use that pipe cutter meant that I had to remove great chunks of drywall, but I wasn't too hassled about that. And so I set to on the shower. Having turned off the water at the main I started removing the drywall - and discovered exciting things like "oh, hey, you clearly damaged the mains wire running through the wall behind the bath when you remodelled, but insulation tape is a fine solution to that...


And having a crossbar crushing it as it goes through the stud is totally not a problem.

As a side point, I am intrigued to know what the purpose of this string is...


I suspect it's "holding up" plumbing, or it was, it's disconnected now :-/

Eventually it became apparent that the only way I was going to be able to successfully cut these pipes was to whip out the two studs. Since they were stood on rotting timber I wasn't convinced they were adding much to the wall anyway... the only problem was I ended up having to disconnect the cable that was running through them. That necessitated removing more drywall.

Eventually I managed to get the pipes capped off - after scraping the pipes back to the metal to get a good enough seal - my wire wool was insufficient to get rid of the corrosion from the leaking, which wasn't a surprise, but was tedious.

Success! Onto the next bit I thought. I whipped off the leaking laundry tap - and replaced that with a cap...

On to the the sink.

It rapidly became apparent that the sink cabinet was held on with hidden nails... and the cabinet was sturdier than the wall it's attached to. Despite the fact that bits of the cabinet were well and truly rotten from the leaking pipework. Which was (is) faintly unnerving. Still, after a brief conversation with Mrs. Sledgehammer, the cabinet was removed. The sink and granite counter I managed to save so they can go to Habitat.

Then I went to remove the failed valves. Only... it turns out that they'd not screwed the adaptor to the crossbeam in the wall. Well, they sort of had. One screw however is not sufficient to hold it well against a possibly 40 year old valve being undone. So while I managed to get one of the valves off from the nipple, and replace it with a cap; the other copper-pipe-90-degree-to-the-nipple*** - that fractured at the soldered joint.

Which I suspected, then confirmed when I turned on the water. So then I had to run into town to grab another (expensive) cap - make a large hole in the wall to get the pipe cutter in (thankfully no studs needed to be removed for this one) and then lop the end off the pipe. At which point I discovered it's not actually attached to anything under the floor - thankfully I had a good enough hold on it that it didn't escape. It's now held in place by the earth cable which I repositioned.

Then I finally capped it off and cleaned up.

And then realized we now have a very open plan bathroom...

Still, all that drywall will have to come down, but we're waiting on the quote before we can get the**** truss diagrams so we can submit this permit. I'm beginning to feel pretty frustrated by the inability to progress, at all, because everything is contingent on the main permit. And the main permit is contingent on us finding a contractor.

And no one seems to have any urgency, except us. But you can't be shirty with people about timeframes because there's so much work available they don't need to do it.

I'm really beginning to wonder if we should just have done the roof ourselves.

* For the sake of speed, I did have a quick look in the DIY shop today, but couldn't see one... Do they exist in the US? Anyway, not finding it means I'm going to have to search harder.

** Though I haven't looked very hard.

*** Whatever that's called. There's a whole bunch of bits of plumbing I'm not sure of the name of.

**** sodding
pyoor_excuse: (house)
So yesterday we rearranged our afternoon to allow a craigslist flake to come and view the car. I actually quite liked him, despite the attempt to kill us both when while test driving we ended up with him going the wrong way up a dual carriageway (divided highway) after performing 3/4ths of what I suspect was a U turn of dubious legality. Still, seemed nice. However, he appears to be suffering from acute craigslist flakitis.

He didn't bring money, though, or any way to get the car back (?!). This I only discovered at the end of the discussion, but being in a relatively good mood I was fine with him picking it up today. This decision is part of the reason I'm in a very grumpy mood now.

So today I got a message this morning saying he couldn't get off work early - and eventually got a message that he couldn't find someone to give him a ride down to collect the car. He lives up towards Seattle.

Which is more pissy because I'd put off someone else and said it might sell. Now that person's disappeared too, which leaves me feeling really quite annoyed.

Then I made the mistake of going to Lowes, because they sent us a discount voucher and we wanted something to put down on the floors to try and prevent quite so much draft coming in. Partly because the void under the house is filled with rat urine, partly because it was beginning to smell pretty damp (like underhouse void), and partly because we want to heat it enough to keep damp at bay. It's currently at a whopping 10C / 50F (which I didn't twig was only 10C, so I might nudge it up a bit tomorrow).

Anyhow, so I gathered together some stuff (plumbing stuff here is suuuuper expensive, btw). And trekked round the shop in search of the underlayment which is what was in the house before... and which some people still seem to recommend. The idea in my head being what I don't use up now would be useful on the house later...

Only I had an appointment at 10, so I needed to be quick through Lowes. After trailing around and not being able to find it, I asked an assistant. Who after looking blank, and eventually pulling out a tablet to try and locate it after I showed her on my phone what I was after, decided she didn't know where it was. Then said I should find someone from flooring to ask (there was no-one in flooring when I walked through it), then informed me really helpfully that "it'll be out on a shelf though".

Uh hu.

And I thought it would be on the ceiling, no-fucking-wonder I couldn't find it... I managed to restrain myself from saying out loud.

At this point I realised I'd be late if I spent any more time looking for this stuff and threw the stuff I had collected onto a shelf*. Then I made my way over to the appointment where the guy was late (but didn't apologise)...

...although he seems competent and his quote is about what we'd expect based off other things.

And then, because I can't get a remodel permit without the roof truss diagram (and we're waiting on a quote from our fourth contractor before we can get those) I'm kinda stalled out. I spent the day installing the plastic sheeting, the hammer-stapler-thing is at least a bit therapeutic. But that and the little bit of plumbing is kinda it until we can get the contractors to do the roof.

The city were pretty hazy on whether we could take down drywall, but the job that really needs doing is removing the electrics. The drywall can come down in the demo party, but that party will be a million times easier if there's no electrics in those walls to worry about. Similarly, lopping off the plumbing would be nice, but I don't have my bucket of shitty plumbing parts available anymore, and again, pluming stuff here is super expensive, so I'm resisting doing more to that than I have to, keeping it to a really minimal leak-stopping.

Tomorrow I'm planning to turn off the water and disconnect the leaking pipework. But after that there's going to be a bit of a mental debate about how much I can do. This weekend we might take down the carport - which is partly a shame because it's handy to have, but it's in the way of the electrician.

It's irritating, because what I'd scheduled tomorrow was going to look at the car we'd like to buy. But again, because of craigslist flake syndrome I can't.

Oh, but good news - our washer has found a productive home. It took a while, but freecycle worked :)

* I would not normally do this, but I'm not wasting my discount voucher on a few small items if I can get something bigger that we need, and after the lack of help I was feeling pretty pissed off.
pyoor_excuse: (house)
So I did the rest of the plumbing checks today - trying to work out where the water's coming from. It does seem that the bath was the source of it all. I suspect that at some point in the past the water heater leaked pretty spectacularly, and no attempt was made to dry that out.

Pulling that drywall off revealed unpleasant, but dry drywall and timbers that are not as rotten as I'd expected. Pulling off the drywall around the kitchen sink...? Well, it looks like all the leaks were related to waste water (which explains the unpleasantness of the drywall that I ripped off).


The highly observant of you will note that this 'design' of waste water pipe requires the water to flow in a non-traditional direction to exit the building. And it's not merely uphill here.

It's uphill here too:


Also, there's these two holes that I have no idea what purpose they serve:


I mean, I know some traditionalists put screws into them. But that is very old fashioned. Clearly, now, they're just used for kind of ritual purposes.

Still, despite its utter shittyness I hooked it back up. At least partially:


Yes, the beauty of that is unsurpassed. I think it took me a whole hour to build.

The plan here was that I'd remove the bathroom sink today. This would allow us to get at another area where it looks like there's been a fair amount of leakage. Again, I suspect it's waste-water, not fresh water, related. But until I yank the drywall it's hard to say. Unfortunately, while my hands were just beginning to feel sore again so I was feeling a bit hesitant anyhow, another problem arose. The valves under the sink, the ones to turn the water off? They don't do anything.

Which means that, like the shower (which has no valves), I'll have to turn the water to the house off completely, then I'll have to remove and blank off the plumbing for those bits. I'll have to go wander the aisles at a plumbing place and see what is available here. In the UK I'd have thrown a couple of compression fitting inline valves in, because they're always handy to have around. I'm hoping something similar will be around and not too pricey.

The main reason for my little jaunt over there today (rather than resting my aching hands) was to 'fix' the broken piece of car decking for the asbestos people. Since I'm not meant to enter the rat highway crawlspace until after it's de-ratted got a new vapo(u)r barrier, this 'repair' has been achieved by screwing a piece of 2x4 into the failing board and spreading the load across a bunch of other less rotten boards. This has pulled the board back up level with the others, and it doesn't seem to move.

I couldn't find hazard tape though (at least not obviously, and it really ought to be obvious!). I was probably not looking in the right place, but I ended up just slapping some yellow insulation tape on the edge of it.

Still, the good news is that after a few days off my hands are feeling better and not hurting just to move, even after taking down some drywall. I think I'm just going to have to be a bit careful with myself. Also, our 'new' chopsaw that we bought about 6 months ago seems to work (and has a really nice blade on it).
pyoor_excuse: (Default)
So, tomorrow I'm off to prep the house for the arrival of the asbestos guys. Mainly this is 'repairing' the floor where the car decking has rotted through and then broken. In this case, I'm just going to screw a chunk of 2x4 along the run next to the wall, put some screws through into the more solid bits and then some into the rotten one. I'm hoping that this has the effect of pulling the broken / rotten bit of car decking back up and in line with the rest of the floor. Also, that it holds it well enough while they strip the asbestos from the ceiling.

So at least we have have some progress.

We also have some progress in that we have a permit for plumbing. I'm only allowed to use it to try and stop the leaks that have been keeping the house damp and rotting (although it says things about installing new stuff, the deal with the permit folks was that they'd issue it while they were waiting for the submission of the remodel permit, but only if I was willing to hold off doing the rest of the work until the remodel permit is in).

I've found one of the damp-sources. The pipework that fed the shower/bath and the waste plumbing from the bath is a disgrace. The soldering on the fresh water side is terrible, and has clearly leaked since it was installed. The waste water side is loose and held in place with expanding foam filler.



This explains the copious rot in this area.

I suspect a similar situation exists behind the water heater.

The kitchen sink I think has been leaking from the waste water side - this is because one of the waste water pipes had an ornamental nut on it. The actual join was just two pieces of plastic pipe telescoped one inside the other. There was no seal, no fittings, nothing actually preventing a leak. But the installer had taken the time to put a threaded metal ring that screwed onto where there should be some kind of seal. So that was nice. I'm still going to whip off the rotten and mouldy plasterboard - we need our temporary sink in there, and I don't want that manky crap staying there through the build. So I'll put my temporary sink supports directly on the exterior wall timbers.

Anyhow, so there has been some progress. Also, a media blasting company has come out and thinks they can strip the paint from our T1-11 siding which means we have some hope of being able to work out what the existing nail pattern* is - and not having to just renail the entire building, which would have made me 'sad'.

And then we come to our disaster area.

So, let's run through our contractor luck:

1) We just didn't get on well. He quoted, I'm sure he's fine, but we spent the whole time being mansplained to, and with him talking over us.
2) Quoted then disappeared for weeks with no response. Then suddenly popped up and said "oh hey, I just noticed your message". Didn't answer the question that was in the message, has never actually produced a quote for the rest of the work we asked him to quote for.
3) Produced a quote that was nearly the work asked for. Needed some minor additions before we gave them the deposit and so we e-mailed our questions (Wednesday), Thursday we all met up to go through the questions. Friday they said 'we need to know the color for the roof', we asked what supplier (Friday), Monday rolls around and we have an e-mail saying "We got deposits on some big jobs and won't be able to start yours for at least 2 months". Uh hu. So that doesn't really work for us.
4) Quote did not match much of what we discussed (in terms of was missing big bits of job). We had them as our second choice, but on messaging them today they also have taken on a big job and wouldn't be able to start until January. Also they seem unaware that engineered parallel chord trusses are a thing, and seems to think he'd have to build them on-site thus adding time and engineering costs. Gah.

For lucky number 5, who we're meeting tomorrow, I've actually written a scope of work so we might actually get the quote right the first time (ha), so we could sign a contract, and thus be able to pay a deposit before they wander off and take more work from someone else.

Perhaps it's not a thing here** for builder's contracts*** to be faintly accurate. But I like to sign something that actually says what I want them to do and an agreement on payment and what happens if costs over-run.

But apparently writing down what you're asking is hard. Or something. I dunno. I'm thoroughly bored of discussions where a contractor holds a pen and paper, writes nothing, is given some diagrams, and then fucks off home and produces a quote that includes a random 70% of what we discussed.

It never seemed to be quite so hard to find a contractor in the UK. Yeah, we had plenty of shitty, shonky contractors who did poor quality work, or tried to rip us off, and we learned a lot about what we needed to say or do to make sure work was an acceptable standard. But just to get someone to even start the damn job is proving to be incredibly frustrating.

So fingers crossed for tomorrow.

I've also left a message for our recommended electrician to ask about installing a new weatherhead / meterbox / panel. I'm hoping that he rings back. I realised that needs to be moved before the roof gets done, because the weatherhead runs up through the roof. That places some urgency on the job... Not least because I've now put in the request to PSE to move the power from the NW to SW corner of the building.

I'm also hoping that our arborist will get back to us before the power company turn up and ruin the one decent thing about the house, the tree at the front. But given how things are going at the moment, I'd say that's pretty unlikely.

* my sneaking suspicion is that the word "pattern" may be misplaced here.
** Olympia? Washington? USA?
*** To be fair, there's been a lot more push here for us to "just sign" things that were wrong. Sometimes materially inaccurate. Which does not go down terribly well.
pyoor_excuse: (house)
So, we're moving the fuse box electrical panel (and replacing the shonky crappy old panel. I've spent this morning sat working through this document that allows you to check the rating required for your service. I'd been thinking we might need to go up to a 300A supply, but it seems like 200A should be fine, which is pleasing. This is probably because the stove appears to be a fan-gas oven, which confuses the pants off me.

So the electrical loads that would normally be consumed by cooking stuff have disappeared into the gas. Which helps.

The sums work out at 96A which seems low to me, but that's what the maths says. And I guess we normally charge at night when other loads tend not to be in use, so it probably works out fine.

I've also been trying to do load balancing. This whole 110v m'larkey makes wiring waaaay more complex.

UK: Incoming power -> RCDs -> Bunch of ring mains (lights, sockets, some single runs to specific appliances). Bob's your uncle.
US: Incoming power -> Breakers of lots of different flavours -> Many spurs that all have to be balanced so that each of the two (120v) legs of the 240v gets roughly the same current draw + 240v loads that pull off both. You may be able to get an uncle called Robertish if you're lucky.

So that means sitting down and trying to work out what groups of sockets and appliances are 'likely' to be on at the same time and then trying to organise them. Without just generating a billion different circuits. Then add in my desire to keep lighting and electrical outlets mainly on separate breakers (not required, but preferable). Then add in code requirements for specific areas to have specific kinds of breakers, or the dishwasher to have it's own separate circuit... which it probably needs anyway in terms of power demands, but still...


Of course this might all be punishment for the pre-regulation the-entire-kitchen-converges-on-one-socket design that I left in place in the first house I worked on in Bristol. I didn't *make* it that way, but I didn't fix it either. Just shoved all the wires back in the back of the socket and said "yeah, that'll work". I suspect it got fearsomely hot if you ran the washer/dryer and the oven at the same time.

Anyhow, since I'm not going to be doing that again and this is to be better planned, then I've spent some time on it. Hopefully it will work as recent calculations mean that I think I'm wiring the panel and just getting someone else to do the actual moving of the service / installation of the weatherhead... Technically, we could do that too, but I value my hands and my life :)

At any rate, I'm planning to submit the permit today - if we get the Rav back in time (it's getting a new driver's door lock, the old one having died).


In other house news, the smell of urine seems to be decreasing. We've removed the chipboard that covered the lounge, the hall, the kitchen and one bedroom. All that's left is a bit of chipboard under the kitchen unit that we've not yet removed, the back bedroom and a small front cupboard. Spraying near a full bottle of urine odour remover onto the worst staining and the front step - along with a moderate amount of vinegar - seems to have helped too. I can now go in the house without wanting to run even when the windows have been closed. It just smells of musty old house and crawlspace.

Hopefully when we put down the vapour barrierey underlaymenty stuff that will resolve it completely. Although we're planning to replace some of the worst car decking with new - and there's one section which has broken.I'm guessing it's rotted away under the end of the bath... but when I was lifting the chipboard I levered against it and it descended rather than the chipboard (with tile) coming up.

Pics on flickr as usual.


And in other, other news, I fell for a scam.

It took about a minute for me to twig and undo it, I think. About half a second for me to go "oh, you fucking idiot" and then the rest of that minute in a panicked google search and settings adjustment.

I listed our Insight on Craigslist, then got a message from someone saying they were interested, and could they call. Then I got a message saying that I needed to enter a two digit authentication code to speak to the craigslist person. I was somewhat suspicious - but after the person had tried a couple of times and I'd got messages each time I thought "well, what could I lose - I'm giving them information they're giving me". Apparently - this is a means of getting access to your phone number because when I entered it I got a Google Voice message - and allowing them to use it.

Thankfully, the answer is here. So within about half a minute I'd reclaimed my lost number. I'm hoping that the dickhead who did it didn't manage to do anything useful with it.

After about 15 calls from the irritant, (s)he seems to have stopped. But it's just f'kin annoying. I also am feeling a bit pissy because the Honda Forum seemed to think that the price was reasonable for the car, but now it's been on there for a week I've had nary a bite. This may mean that all my sums about us replacing the car with an EV have to be reworked. If we have to drop the price of Insight to sell it...



And in other, other news, I realised I should have ordered a smaller shift key when I ordered the keys for my keyboard. I did a test assembly of the kit which went fine, but I've not soldered it yet because I need the key tops to ensure that the layout I'm planning will work with the keys I've bought. It's still very pretty though. It shall be super pretty when it arrives.


I just need to etch the CTL logo into it.

CTL terminal (in very fetching orange and black)

I just wish I could get an orange fabric covered curly keyboard cable to use. They don't seem to exist :(
pyoor_excuse: (Default)
I think maybe it's being used to the British approach to planning and building, but I seem to spend much of my time going in circles.

I want roof trusses. This, I would think would not be hard. But it seems that whoever I ask, I need to ask someone else first. Virtually every person has either directed us to a lumber yard (for a lumber package which will apparently include drawings) or an engineer (for drawings, for a lumber package).

However when I call lumber yards, truss manufacturers or engineers they all say no.

They recommend an architect. Which might work. Except one they recommended didn't answer the phone, and the other will only discuss stuff with plans in front of him.

Which is a fair bit of hassle when he's 45 minutes away - and closes in 45 minutes. He also won't give me any idea of whether he will be able to do the plans this week, this month or even this year. Or what a rough idea of costs might be like.

It's a fracking 38x24 box with a 6/12 roof. If it weren't for the demand that the drawings were done by an engineer we'd f'kin do it. It would take a few hours, much of which would be spent researching the standards required.

pyoor_excuse: (Default)
Which makes me very sad. They were a comedy music duo - and along with their disappearance their songs have disappeared into obscurity.

Since we were at a very nice party on Saturday night at which I was transiently tempted to sing one, I'm going to record the lyrics here for posterity.

Are We Havin' Fun?

Jane, Michael, Jason,
Sit quiet in the back please,
[Mum]Your dad's trying to drive,
We don't want an accident,
[Mum]No we're not there yet,
I don't know when,
[But Mum]Give him back his gameboy
I won't ask you again,
[Mum] We're here at the camp site,
We've put up the tent,
[Mum] But your father has lost both the poles and the pegs,
See I thought [Mum.] he'd packed them,
[Mum] Oh bloody heck,
Yes okay Jane, Hang on, You can go in a sec,

Ohhh, Ohhh, Ohhh, our family holiday,
Are we having fun yet... [No]

[Mum] Boys, stop hitting those ducklings with sticks
[Mum] Jane, let's find the loo,
Oh god the dog's just been sick,
[Mum I've wee'd in the frizbee!],
That's all that I need,
And now Jason's eczema is starting to bleed,
Stay away from those people*
Their dog's have got rabies,
[Mum, A dingo has taken all my jellybabies]
My head is splitting,
This holiday's gone sour,
And Jason's got verrucas from not wearing flip-flops in the shower,

Ohhh, Ohhh, Ohhh, our family holiday,
Are we having fun yet.... [No]

Get in the car kids,
Pack up your stuff,
We're going home now,
I've had enough,
This holiday is shitty,
This camp site's a farce,
Piss off the lot of you,
Shove your poles up your arse
[Your poles up your arse]

Jason's inhaling the air from the bed,
Michael's put a sleeping bag over the dog's head,
[Mum, Jason won't stop touching me with his warts!]
Next half-term book me a five-star resort,
I've set fire to the tent now I'm starting to crack,
I've tied up the children onto the roof rack, [whimpering]
[Mum] The dog's in the boot,
[Mum] He's gone cold and stiff,
I'm Thelma and Louise,
Show me the cliff,

Ohhh, Ohhh, Ohhh, our family holiday,
Ohhh, Ohhh, Ohhh, our family holiday,
Was shit.

* the original song uses a term which is now considered offensive by the group referenced.


Aug. 25th, 2017 08:16 pm
pyoor_excuse: (Default)
While my time in this alternate universe filled with racist fuckheads has been interesting, I'd quite like to go back to the timeline where things were improving, if that's okay.
pyoor_excuse: (Default)
So I recently read Cory Doctorow's Walkaway. Although it features what is most likely distressingly accurate, and depressing near-future (resulting in my concomitant, but currently unachievable desire to walkaway, as the protagonists do*), it's a really great read. Like Little Brother before it, I find myself concerned by the possibilities of what he suggests, and finding a little room for optimism. Anyhow, it's a good read.

Land Rover, by Ben Folger not so much. It's interesting in very short bursts. I say that because it feels very poorly edited. While he's got a very approachable writing style**, the book is all over the place, and very repetitive. And look, he's interviewed someone who wasn't really able to recall much about the questions he's asked. Okay, ask different questions. Set the scene a bit. Do something. Don't just breeze along like "oh, this was great and then I went and had some tea". It's introduced as a big thing - meeting this person who's father was really important to the development of the landy - and then it's over in a paragraph or two. Yeah, she doesn't recall much about it - but really? You couldn't find something more to say?

But the thing that's really getting to me is the number of times he's explained that the Land Rover is a classless vehicle. It's not really true; but in British society there is a sort of classlessness about it. You have to have some money to have one, particularly now. But yeah, when I was a teen it was a car that both rich and less well off people drove***. However after he's said "let me explain" about the classlessness of the car what feels like 50 times, I'm starting to wear down. And in all honesty it's neither a story of development, nor so far an actual story of the owners. Either of which would have been interesting.

Ah well.


And finally - For Pros By Pros "Wiring a House" - so far it seems pretty good. I've grasped how [insane] multiphase house wiring is****. I am now comfortable that I understand it well enough to wire - and the book has lots of nice info on how to design and install to meet code. So it should be good.

I forked out today for a set of Ridgid powertools - then found the battery was dead (dead dead). And now it doesn't look like near so much a bargain, but I've ordered a replacement battery. If the whole set works well then I'll keep it - otherwise I've got until next week to return it as faulty (it's used).

* when 3D printing of drugs becomes a reality then walking away would actually be a possibility, at least for me/us. Until then I'm tied to pharmaceuticals.

** Although me and him stand in very different places when it comes to war, and also to how the UK has acquitted itself on the world stage, which at times I found made it very hard for me to continue reading. Although with his background in the Navy, that's understandable.

*** for values of less well off that allowed enough money for the purchase of a car.

**** Every time I learn something more about US electrical systems, I more miss Europe's dead simple, neat, safe systems. Ugh.
pyoor_excuse: (Default)
Yeah, the house is on hold again. Waiting for a life-span guarantee on the roof. Apparently the mortgage company want a certificate that says it'll last another 5 years. This is irritating, because we plan to pull the roof off anyhow. Regardless of whether we do the small-renovation of the inside, or the big project, the roof is on our list - but the thing is, we haven't yet decided which way we're going to jump.

So if we have to make that decision now, it may mean that we dump our plan to do a fairly wideranging reno, with significant structural mods, because having to put a roof on the place before we start would kinda stimie that. I don't think either of us is up for paying for two roofs.

Still, to focus on good things, I spend this morning chilling with a friend in a park and watching the partial eclipse. Being disorganized and cheap I made myself a pin-hole viewer - unlike the idiot in the white house who, with his whole antiscience bent, decided to just stare at the damn sun. I'm kind of assuming the moment afterwards looked something like this:

Anyhow, the pinhole viewer actually worked remarkably well. Also, Sarah let me borrow her glasses so I ended up getting a pretty good view of it. While at 93% here it was cool, it wasn't totality which I've seen once before and which is a different level of odd (although I didn't really appreciate the oddness at the time).

As we wandered back we experienced a rather cool effect:


It seems, the leaves create a pseudo-pinhole effect, allowing the crescent of visible sun to be projected onto the ground.


In other news, I've bitten my lip. This has always been slightly problematic, in that I tend to promptly get an ulcer afterwards - but that wasn't much of an issue, but about a year and a half ago I got some kind of infection after biting my lip, and then promptly felt utterly shit for a week. I'm feeling the same after this one, and it's looking red and swollen again. This time I have health coverage, though, so I might need to visit a walk in center.

Last time, with no health coverage, I got to experience the joy of the US healthcare system, where I stayed at home and rode it out, drinking plenty, rinsing my mouth with salt and hoping my immune system could kill whatever it was. Thankfully, tomorrow I can't go out anyhow, because we've got a package being delivered (with the standard, helpful FedEx / UPS delivery estimate of "tomorrow"), so I have an enforced rest day. Although I've spent much of today lying on the couch (having done the food shop), and reading the For Pros By Pros wiring book.

Still, there may be one trip out tomorrow. I'm suspecting the package is the tyres for the Rav (which have gained another nail, a super expensive nail this time, because it's just in the sidewall).

Ah well.
pyoor_excuse: (Default)
After a bit of revision of 'how to safely use a bandsaw without dying' I spent a few hours today over at our friend's house making the bits of wood I'd cut into large chunks of wood into smaller chunks of wood.

Smaller bits of wood. The nicely crafted boxes with neat joints are obviously nothing to do with me

I both cut things into roughly the right shapes and also spent some time making them roughly the right thickness*. Now I need to start making templates so I can do the magic of pattern-cutting using the router.

One thing that's interesting is that the wood has the blue-streaking from having sat unharvested once cut.


Apparently that's a common problem with maple. I'd heard of it before, but this is the first time I've seen it in person in raw wood. I'd seen it once before in some furniture where they'd chosen to make a feature of it. I debated whether to hack it off, but I'm unlikely to manage to get even close to all of it, so instead have decided it's a feature, not a bug.

So where I could I've left it in. However, the dirty great water stain I trimmed off.

Anyhow, so things are progressing and my ornamental firewood is at least an interesting shape:


* One piece ended up unintentionally excitingly close to the right thickness. I was aiming to be almost 1/4 inch thicker than final thickness, but mid cutting one chunk of wood I realized I could split in half (more or less) and get two out of the same bit of wood. I passed it through the bandsaw without doing the careful measuring I'd done with all the other bits - because I was already resawing to the right thickness. Only for whatever reason, the second one ended up being actually about one mm thicker the required thickness (curiously, the other bit is the thickness I was aiming for).
pyoor_excuse: (Airport)
So, I've continued to work on making the pinebook a comfortable usable device. It's been a bit of battle - my mail server has some quirks to the way it's set up which meant that it took me quite a while to get it working. I'm still having issues with another mail server I use, where I'm not sure if it's me or the server. My lovely friend, who's the Admin, has sent me some stuff, and I've sent her some stuff, so hopefully I can get it worked out.

I ended up doing my first build-from-source in quite a while today, so I could have Sylpheed, which is (apparently) a nice lightweight mail client. Certainly it seems pretty good. Can't work out how to force it to allow certificate.

It's fascinating (and at times a little frustrating) using the pinebook, because some stuff clearly taxes the hell out of the processor. I rarely log onto Facebook, but wanted to to grab something today and wow does that suck.

Still, it's demonstrated some things for me - like the fact that my Linux server is set up right, it's my Macbook that's being a dick about connecting to it. I don't know why - but the SMB share will only connect as a guest, not as a user. It fails to authenticate if you try and log in as an actual user. I've not yet had a good look as to why though - but since the Pinebook just happily connects (when I give it the username and password) then I"m going to point my finger at the Macbook.

And yeah, otherwise it's a handy laptop that I can drag around and not worry too much about. And while Linux on ARM has proven to still be a bit of a pain in the arse (e.g. Telegram, which I'd like to run, is only available compiled for x86 Linux). It's superlight and the battery life isn't bad either.

It's also finally nudged me into upgrading logitech media server on the media server, which, after the last upgrade had developed an irritating bug where when you added tracks to the playlist, or even just pressed play, it tended to make the squeezebox crash after a few seconds. Loading the web interface also seemed to take an age, too. I'd not got around to nosing at that problem, but it turns out that there was an update to the update which seems to have fixed it.

So yay.
pyoor_excuse: (union)
So, I've spent today dinking. After getting myself onto the yoga mat this morning* I ran out to the shops for coffee and thence to our storage unit to retrieve the soldering iron. John pointed out that I was being an idiot. I'd assumed that just because the key tester arrived assembled with the keys in a particular orientation that the orientation they were in was correct.

And the irritating not-quite-rightness of it, and need to bend several of the other keys slightly to get them to fit (along with other people's comments about the keys not fitting well) made me foolishly continue down this path of wrongitude. John pointed out that it might well fit if rotated through 90 degrees.

Which, with much less bending, it did.

So today with my iron in hand I did some of the neatest soldering I've done for years.


Which allowed me to produce my keytester/numpad:


At the moment I'm pretty settled on Gateron Brown. I'd like clicky, but I'm aware that beyond the fact it would probably drive Kathryn nuts, all the clickies are slightly stiffer. And I'm aware that my fingers are pretty knackered from years and years of computer abuse, and found the M eventually hurt to use for long periods. And while I know that's 80g of pressure (or there abouts) vs 50g for the lightest of the clickys, the Gateron Brown is around 45g of pressure. This I know because having picked the key I liked I looked up my two favourites (Gateron Brown and Blue). And while the Gateron isn't quite as highly rated as the Cherry Brown, it's pretty close and the price is much better.

And honestly? I seemed to prefer it in my blind test.

So. I did that. I also fixed the surge protector that I picked up from goodwill last year, which when I finally got it apart (more brute force) turned out to be just a disconnected wire (it looked connected, but pulling on it revealed that it was just floating in the hole).

And then... my Pinebook arrived.


When they say it's for tinkerers, they weren't kidding. I ordered the larger 64G eMMC and did wonder whether it would come with it installed. It doesn't. So my first act was to pull the back off (which requires a spudger, incidentally) to install the replacement eMMC.


It then booted into Android, which was confusing, because it said it would boot into Linux. now I'm installing Linux.


It's also playing music through its little tinny speakers. First thoughts - the screen is remarkably acceptable, the keyboard's also remarkably good, the weight distribution is pretty terrible (everything's at the back of the case, so it wants to tip over backwards), the touchpad is also pretty awful (whenever I try and click on something I end up clicking slightly below where I want to I realized that is true if I use the "clicky" on the touchpad, but if I just use the tap on the touchpad, that works fine). But I have to say, it's pretty crazy - I mean, with shipping and everything it's a usable laptop for $170.

It's nice and light too. And while the screen's no-where near as bright as my macbook, it's perfectly usable.


I'm also thinking that I need to disassemble my macbook and see if renewing the heatsink good and cleaning out the processor heatsink will make it happier. It's been running at 70-80+ degrees pretty much continuously recently, which is "not ideal". I realized that while I've cleaned out the fans and ducts many times, I don't think I've ever pulled the processor heatsink off (since it requires unscrewing and replacing heatsink gunk)... so I think that might be a job I need to do.

Incidentally, my Pinebook came with *the best* sticker


Of course, all of this - this is one of the weird dichotomies of living here. I have 'more' disposable income, despite the health insurance costs being way higher, despite food being more expensive. I suspect that because heathcare costs are so insane here**, nurses are paid way more here than in the UK. And because of that I can buy toys that I'd not really be able to buy in the UK. However, all of that falls apart if either of us gets sick. And the healthcare costs are so astronomical that while it's worth having a good chunk saved up - if one of us gets really sick, then it'd pretty much be curtains, because neither of us earns that much.

At any rate, I'm enjoying the toys while I can. Hell, my dad died before he got to enjoy any of the toys or perks of retirement (he died before retiring), so it is always hard for me to think "I'll save for a long retirement". Working in the ED probably doesn't help with that.

Anyhow, I've spent a chunk of today thinking about the weirdness of it all. About how I miss the UK, but wouldn't want to be there at the moment. About friends and family. About how lucky I am to be dinking on a laptop I bought because, well, I thought it might be interesting.

And it is***.

I wish there was a port of RISC OS for it though.

Then I could truly live my childhood dream of having an Acorn A4. Kinda.

*I'm pretty pleased with myself for both keeping up with doing yoga and for practicing Norwegian - I'm generally very poor at committing to activities long term, even if I enjoy them, so... for me to haul myself onto and off the mat at least 3 days a week is an oddity - and I'm up to about 600 words of Norwegian, which I suppose puts me somewhere around the a three year old.

** So, I checked, and nurses in various European countries are also paid way more than in the UK. I have no idea why then. Probably because the UK doesn't really value nursing. They saythey value nursing, but clearly they actually value financial people.

*** I wrote about half of this post on it, now I've got it running, the VPN working, all sorts of fun and games it's been. But for all that, running this lightweight version of Linux? It's remarkably usable.
pyoor_excuse: (house)
Well, things are moving along in a more positive direction. No chicken counting yet, but we've had an offer on the land, so we may be able to shift that albatross from around our neck which'd be nice. We're both rather sad to sell it, especially because we suspect from what we know of the buyers that the tree we loved will be coming down. But we can't have a tree that's holding that much of our limited funds.

On our purchase, we're waiting on an appraisal on the house we're trying to buy - and we've arranged to have another chat with the contractor about our construction needs.

That's because we spent yesterday having a very nice chat with some engineers who gave us a rough calculation of the extra footings we need under our current foundation (~3ft square/deep) which apparently we can dig out without supporting the existing foundation (and then just fill it the hole with concrete), then explained that we could probably draw the modifications we want to make to our house to a standard that is sufficient for the city to pass them. If not, please come back, but if we have any questions, they're very much able to help.

This is good news, we think. They also pointed out a much cheaper way for us to do what we wanted to do. Cheaper and more cunning, and with less resource use. All things we like.

Today I spent making firewood.

Yesterday I created a rough template for the chair I'm trying to build (or firewood I'm making) - this allows me to run the bits I want to cut through a band-saw, then I can use my (not yet in existence) accurate template to mark up exactly what I want to cut and trim.


Today though, with Bill's kind help, I took the circular saw to some of the larger board, and then I took the chop-saw to the smaller board. And that was it for the day. Much of the time was spent mulling and checking and doing recounts to make sure I really had drawn all the bits I needed (I hadn't the first time, despite the note to myself on the board and in the book).

Still, it's moving in the direction I'd like, and if it's a disaster it's firewood and the time I've spent has been very soothing. Also, I am learning, and that is definitely a good thing.

I then did a bunch of errandy things before looking at the key tester that I got from Massdrop. This is much more of an irritating thing.

Described as being made from cast aluminium (it's not, it's cut/bent aly); the circuit board that was extra to turn it into a number pad doesn't actually fit. The holes in the board for two of the key switches are way out of line.


I hoped it would be "close enough" that I could just bend the pins, but much exploration of the situation leads me to believe that isn't going to happen. I'm going to have to drill out the pin holes to make them large enough, then run some mod wire along. On the plus side I think I'm fairly settled on gateron brown switches. Also, slightly irritatingly, the supplied keycaps actually make it impossible to see which switch is which, so you have to pull the cap to work out which one you like. Mind, that does make it a better test, I suppose.

I shall probably play a bit more. On the one hand I'd like an actual clicky keyboard, I really rather miss having one, but for the sake of everyone else's sanity, it might be better to have a non-clicky board :)
pyoor_excuse: (Default)

Sorry, puntastic title today.

Still needed some cheering up.

Today has been, in my own little personal realm, positive and pleasant. I spent the morning with a friend marking up the timber for the improbably difficult chair I've chosen to build. This 4 or so hours of escapism made me feel faintly human again. Because politically, things are pretty bad. So, let's tell you about the chair before I start gently weeping.

Mid-century modern, and based on apparently a Brazilian design, I've chosen to make it from some maple which is... well, it's a little close to heart wood, and will probably bend and warp as I cut it. It also has, essentially, no 90 degree angles - and I note, they've not put the fricking angles on the diagram of the pieces. Similarly, they've not actually put some of the thicknesses on some of the diagrams.

My current plan is to enlarge the diagram, measure the angles (I roughly measured them today, so I could sketch out where I think I'm cutting most of the parts from). I marked up one of the pieces of wood with the chunks I need to crosscut and the chunks to rip. Because it's a longish board and the bits I need are mostly 20" or so, but all different widths, it's going to be a fairly complex job. I'm hoping that because I'm doing that now, the bits that are going to bend and warp and do horrid things might get that over and done with before I start trying to make complex shapes from them.


This incidentally, is the model of simplicity.

The advantage is I've chosen Western Maple, which is a pretty common wood around here. I also volunteer at a place where they get wood donations, and have a supply of very reasonably priced timber.

So that's the good bit, the bit makes me feel like this move hasn't been a terrible idea. Being near Kathryn's family and near friends who have always been very distant (at the expense of being far from friends who were nearby). That and a work/life balance which at the moment feels pretty much perfect. I work just over half time, and that (theoretically) should provide enough money for us to live on. That in turn means that I can engage in hobbies, work on stuff for Transport Evolved, and volunteer. I realise this is incredibly lucky.

What's feeling terrifying is the othering by #45 of trans people. While, thanks to the work of decent reporters, we can call bullshit on the costs excuse, nervousness is starting to ripple into daily life. This othering, it makes it easier for the bigots to bring hatred down upon those of us and reminds me in a very unnerving way of the precursors to the destruction of the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft and its archives. I note also that there's action by the (in)justice department to strip LGBTQ employment protections. All of this makes me feel incredibly wary.

On the one hand I don't want to equate what's happening now with 1930's Germany, but historians keep doing that. Which I think reduces the Godwin's law possibility of me just assuming that.

Now in 3D!

Jul. 18th, 2017 03:00 pm
pyoor_excuse: (Default)
So, I finally got to do some playing with the 3D printer I bought last year. It's a Monoprice Select Mini 3D - a printer with a reputation for being incredibly cheap. Which it was; which is why I have it.

Anyhow, I had a plan to make a replacement quick release plate for the tripod I bought from goodwill. It's a cheap not-quite-fluid-but-mimics-fluid-motion tripod. Which is fine, I just needed something fairly solid to stick the camera on. However, it - like seemingly nearly all the tripods at our local goodwill - was missing its quick release head. So I thought I'd give a bit of design and print a go.

What I ended up with is this. Which was an interesting learning experience. I kept having the sloped section at the end printing separately, which is how it ended up with this version where it overlaps a bit. I've now got a bit better, I think, at making stuff join together, so I'd fix that if I ever reprint it. If I was to reprint it, I'd make it about 1mm wider too, and possibly reinstate the sloped section that I did have at the opposite end from the current slope (which I chopped off for simplicity, but which would improve fit a little). I'd also make the recess for the bolt that acts as a camera screw a bit deeper.

Anyhow. Having eventually achieved success (I both got it to print AND it actually fits!), I then stepped up my game to produce a doohick to hold my tablet underneath the camera so it can act as a teleprompter. Now really, if I end up doing more videos then I should probably step it up to a proper teleprompter. But, for the moment I have this:



Irritatingly, my local hardware shop doesn't have any long enough screws in either metric or imperial; and for once my dad's box of a billion screws failed me (although I think in the sub-box of a thousand screws which is somewhere in one of the many boxes around the place, there probably is the screw I'm after). There are several refinements I should make to this, too. But I'm not really likely to.

But it's here:

It should work okay, so long as I'm some distance from the camera. That way you can't so obviously see I'm looking just below it.

Anyhow. I'm very much enjoying the 3D printing. Although I am the least efficient designer in the history of time. It took 2 printed iterations of the tablet holder for me to realise that the design is lacking a few things. Really it would also benefit from a spring to pull the two clamps together. And the version of the design I first printed was over complicated and one-clamp based, for reasons that currently escape me. The new version just has two copies of the same clamp. Much easier. Thankfully the one-clamp bit will work with the two-clamp design. So I didn't have to reprint it.

Funnily enough, after months of failure, it seems dumping the printer in the corner of the cupboard where I can't tweak the adjustment easily has proven to be the key. It seems to happily print away (although adhesion remains a problem. Justin suggested a different hairspray-as-adhesive a while back, so I shall give that a go at some point).

Anyway, yay. Yay for making things. Sorta.

Now I just need to find the wood for my chair project.
pyoor_excuse: (house)
So, I don't know what it is. Something about our luck. And I'm trying not to ascribe it to the whole of the US, because I know that's unfair, but the crappyness of the buildings we've seen, and the utterly appaulling quality of renovations we're seeing does make me wonder if this is a cultural thing. That just throwing up a building, then doing shoddy work on it for a while, until it falls down, that might be a thing? I don't know.

And maybe it's just that the all but one of the very oldest houses we've looked at here to buy are the same age as the newest houses I've worked on or looked at in the UK? I know new houses are f'kin shonky in the UK, so maybe it's just that we're looking at the equivalent of UK modern houses here? Whatever it is, it's beginning to make me feel very fed up.

Maybe it's just that we naturally attract shonky-ass crap houses.

So, the house inspection showed up that there had been water in the crawl space (void) under the house. He suggested that the slope of the ground around the house, and a failure to have a gap between the foundation and the grass was at fault. That run-off was pooling in the space. That had then encouraged wood-boring-animals into the wood, so some of the support pillars for the building would need replacing. He recommended getting a wood-boring knowledgable person in to identify what needed doing.

The pest guy identify a couple of pillars that he knew would need replacing, and the beetle treatment would not be terribly expensive. But he said we needed to sort out the water ingress problem. And he recommended getting a contractor in to check the pillars to identify which ones needed replacing.

Today we had possibly the worst matched contractor we've ever had quote on work come and quote for repair work because. He was also meant to be discussing ballpark figures for the addition (extension) that we want to do; but... that didn't happen.

Anyhow, he says that the is of the opinion that there's around 1' of water sitting in the crawlspace through the winter, because of a "low water table". I'm assuming he means "high water table". Anyhow, that would require modifications to the foundations to enable the water to drain.

And that would not be cheap.

As this is the n'th house we've seen with some hideous problem that the owner really should have had fixed years ago. Like 39 years ago, when it was first f'kin built, I'm beginning to want to scream.

Also, being mansplained to for an hour, by someone completely unwilling to actually listen to what we wanted done, that didn't really help my mood. But I'm going right off the idea of buying a house here*.

So yay.

* To be honest, the urge to flee has been around. But hey. It comes and goes.


Jun. 23rd, 2017 10:17 pm
pyoor_excuse: (Default)

I took the insight for a service at a local independent garage who are very nice. Unfortunately, it turns out their base service price is about twice that of the Honda dealer, which isn’t that much of a problem on a service, but makes me a bit wary of using them for other things on the Insight. That said, they are very nice, and unlike Honda they were happy to install the fumoto oil valve.

They also were happy to install the underbody panel…but they forgot. Which is irritating, mainly because it would have done sod-all to the service cost, but also because when I realized they’d not installed it I thought “oh well, I’ll do it when I get home, it’s a nice sunny day…”, which would have been fine except for the tiny fact that it turns out the insight can’t go up the ramps I’ve got.

Either of the pairs of them.

Because my ramps are designed for 1960/1970s European cars, which have nice high front bumpers, they have a fairly vicious slope on them. It turns out that you can’t even get them under the bumper on the insight.

Which leaves me unable to come up with a way of attaching the bloody thing other than taking it back to them (the nice, but not cheap, independent garage, because Honda won’t fit aftermarket parts), or buying a set of ramps specially for the insight. Although I think I might be able to get away with buying a chunk of timber to raise the car up an 5cm or so, before it hits the ramps. This is, of course, exactly the sort of thing I want (and don’t have) a garage for. I’m pretty certain I don’t have a workbench anymore, either, so cutting the timber has to be done by whichever shop I get it from. Which means planning ahead, and designing it without the thing I’m building in front of me. Something I’m notoriously terrible at, when it comes to quickie jobs like this one.

On the plus side, while they were expensive it’s much nicer spending the time kicking around town rather than hanging out in the Honda dealer (which is in the middle of the ‘auto-mall’). More expensive, but nicer. I had a nice tea in Burial Grounds, where my allergies decided to escalate to their usual ridiculous insanity – upsetting as I’d forgotten tissues (mainly because they’d been better for a few days). Then I spent an inordinate amount of time in Rainy Day, partly because my ex-students gave me a gift voucher (with which I bought both the Marika Hackman album, I’m Not Your Man (sadly not the Loser edition with its pretty coloured vinyl) and a used Bix Beiderbeck album).

Their plan worked, though. Rainy Day’s that is; I don’t think the students were in on this.

While I was in Rainy Day the woman running the shop put on a fantastic compilation of 1960’s Asian ‘garage girl groups’*. It’s part of a re-issue of a 1980’s series of compilation albums of 1960’s ‘garage girl groups’*. This has a dreadfully ‘of its time’ title (by which I mean it’s racist), so I won’t grace the page with the title. However, it’s an awesome compilation, and being a re-issue I’m willing to sort of let the title (and the title art on on the album) slide. Instead I’ll just share that it’s Volume 9 in the “Girls in the Garage” series.

Anyhow, having concluded that I’d broadly spent enough money on toys I meandered to the New Moon Café for lunch, then out to find a shady spot to finish reading Nasty Women. Which was fascinating, and interesting, and depressing, and uplifting. It makes me want to write, which I really should try and do, given that I’ve got about 1/3rd to 1/2 of a book sat unfinished.


*I have issues with this term, although I <em>suppose</em> I could equate it to boy-bands? Any moment when grown women are referred to as “girls” I find wrong.

pyoor_excuse: (Default)

So I used to be on LJ. I shall not be updating the LJ account anymore… I’ve finally got around to tweaking the crossposting to crosspost to Dreamwidth (and tumblr).

End announcement.

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