Posted on April 27th, 2019
Jake is doing so much better, so thanks to all of you who reached out with concern and kind words! He still limps... sometimes more than others, but he's showing vast improvement. I wouldn't be surprised if his limp is mostly gone in another week.
Right now my priority is keeping him safe from another fall.
When I design projects I also write out a task list and a schedule so I know how long it will take. For my new "banister cat tray" I had one evening allotted for construction. One evening to fill nail holes, sand, and prime. And one evening to smooth-sand and paint two coats. Which means I was ready to install it yesterday morning...
The carpet that goes on the bottom arrives on Wednesday. In the meanwhile, I hope things are a little safer for Jake and Jenny. At least Jake can't fall asleep... then fall off... so easily again.
From the bottom, it's not very obtrusive, which is nice...
I sent the photos to a friend who does carpentry... he replied with "DESIGN FAIL! Somebody using the hand railing for the stairs will run into your construction!"
I couldn't understand what he was talking about until I realized that the angle of the photo doesn't show the whole story. So I sent him this photo and said "YOU WERE SAYING?!?"...
Turns out I actually DO put some thought into my projects!
Eventually I want to build a narrow staircase so they can climb up to the banister instead of making a dangerous jump. Until I do that, I put a bench in front that they can use to hop up more easily. Jenny was the first to take a look...
And there you have it... a safer, conveniently cat-sized walkway!
And now to think about how I can build cat stairs... and a safety ledge for the windows above the stairwell where Jenny likes to play. A "feature" of my house that terrifies me to no end. The girl is fearless when it comes to heights. Which is fine. But only when it's reasonably safe! She likes to be totally UNSAFE, and it drives me crazy.
Until next Caturday...
Posted on April 24th, 2019
My pricey new Milwaukee cordless M18 Dual Bevel Sliding Compound Miter Saw is choice. I love it. But more on that later. Let's talk about my new Milwaukee cordless M18 Random Orbital Sander. When it was released last year, I took a hard pass because A) It was $99 without battery, and B) My corded sander works perfectly fine, and there was no sense spending money to replace it.
But last night as I was attempting to sand down my latest project, the cord on the sander snagged on a bottle of glue that was sitting next to a pan of kitty litter and both went crashing to the floor of my single-car-garage woodshed. There just aren't many outlets in a garage, so I'm always running into problem like this (as well as running out of outlets).
While attempting to clean up the horrendous disaster that comes from glue mixing with kitty litter, I suddenly realize that "Boy, a cordless sander sure would have been handy." Minutes later I was digging into my savings as I cruised Home Depot's website. In-store pickup, here I come...
I have no idea... none how I survived without this. I thought the battery would make it heavy and difficult to navigate. Nope. Far, far less difficult than wrangling a cord, even with the added weight. In fact, as shown in the photo, I have my medium M18 instead of my smaller M18 battery, and it's perfectly fine. The kit comes with a dust-catcher extender, so I even have the option of using my mega-battery on it if I wanted to!
And it's not just the lack of a cord that makes it so fantastic... it has multiple speeds (my old one didn't) and the random sanding "pattern" seems to do a better job of making quick work of large areas to boot. If you've already got some Milwaukee M18 batteries knocking around, the convenience of cordless is pretty much a no-brainer.
And then there's the Milwaukee cordless M18 Dual Bevel Sliding Compound Miter Saw...
I had no intention of replacing my faithful old Ryobi... until it went out of alignment and I couldn't get good cuts from it (nor get the laser guide to aim straight). Maybe somebody smarter than I could have figured out how to fix it, but I was done. My first instinct was to spend the $220 to get another Ryobi. It provided years of faithful service, was relatively inexpensive, and I was familiar with it. But then I saw that Milwaukee had a kit with an extra maximum performance M18 battery on sale for $600 (down from $850) and decided I'd spend the money on quality now rather than having to replace another Ryobi in 4 years...
My worries were A) A cordless saw would have much less power than a corded version, and B) All the reviews talked about what a shitty job it did of collecting dust.
Turns out that A) It has plenty of power to cut through anything I've thrown at it... including Trex decking and hardwoods, and B) All the reviews were right... the dust collection is so bad that I don't even know why they bother putting a bag on it in the first place since hardly any dust ends up in there.
The dust collection problem is annoying, but not a dealbreaker. No miter saw catches all the dust, so what's a little more? Still, you have to wonder what in the hell Milwaukee was thinking that they couldn't have done a better job of it.
Just as with every Milwaukee cordless tool I've ever owned, the benefits of going cordless far outweigh any drawbacks in the ultimate design. I can move it anywhere in my garage shop without having to unplug/plug which is great. I also have one less cord to trip over and one less outlet occupied, which is really great.
Dust collection aside, there are a number of things that Milwaukee gets right. First of all, they've done away with a laser guide in favor of a shadow cut-line indicator. Before using it, I thought this was a detriment. Because lasers are awesome, yo. But then I used it and realize what a huge boost to accuracy it is. A shadow of the actual blade not only shows you exactly where the cut occurs and how much material the blade will be removing... but it also will never go out of alignment, something that plagued my Ryobi...
Another thing I like is the design of the slider. With most miter saws, the tool slides along rails that poke out behind the saw on the top. With Milwaukee, the rails are inside the unit and on the bottom. It's just cleaner with less obstruction on top, though I have no idea if this could be a problem after dust ends up on the rails. How would you clean that? I dunno.
As is par for the course with Milwaukee, the little details are nicely accommodated. The blade cover locks open for easy access (I loathed having to fumble with it on my Ryobi every time I changed blades). Changing angle or bevel is not only fast and easy, but seriously balls-on accurate. On my old saw when I had to meet two 45° angles for a corner, there was always a slight error that crept into the mix. But with my Milwaukee, they meet up flawlessly every time on the first try, corner after corner. No more sanding or filler! Another plus? The saw is fairly lightweight and can be carried from the top or side. I keep mine permanently mounted on my awesome Rigid mobile folding stand, but it's nice to know I could transport it easily.
Ten out of Five Stars. Would purchase again.
As mentioned yesterday, I'm building a ledge tray for my banister to (hopefully) keep my cats safe in the stairwell. After work I had time to paint a base coat. All I have now is a light sanding and two more coats and it will be good to go (the carpet for the bottom arrives next week)...
This unanticipated little project has me chomping at the bit to get started on my kitchen cabinets! Now THERE is a job that will make good use of my pricey new toys!
Posted on March 28th, 2019
Today was my twice-annual HVAC checkup where a technician looks at my air conditioning and heating setup to see if it's going to last another six months. As one of the only two things left to replace in my house*, I feel like I'm rolling the dice every time they show up.
Apparently things look fine. The system is old, but well-maintained and in good shape, so fingers crossed. Losing air conditioning wouldn't be terrible since I rarely use it anyway. But heating? Yeah. Gotta have that. So I guess the real test will be my next check-up in six months. When once again I'll be rolling the dice to see if I have a hideous home home expense.
But, in the meanwhile... Full steam ahead on my kitchen remodel.
I cleaned out my garage and have started parking my car outside. I've unpacked all my tools and have drawn up plans. I've ordered a sample of the pocket hinges and pull-handle hardware I'm thinking about. I'm looking at paint. I've priced out countertop materials I'm interested in and started researching sinks.
This weekend I'll be hanging plastic sheeting in my garage to keep the crap stored there dust-free. Then I'll be setting up my tools and a space to work.
I guess we'll find out if I can build a kitchen.
*The other being my water heater. I'm sure that's just minutes away from dying.
Posted on November 30th, 2018
When it comes to working on my home, painting is easily the chore I loathe the most. But I don't really have much choice. I had to put a second coat of paint on the wall I repaired two days ago, and decided to take the opportunity to do some touch-up throughout the house. I had some nail holes to fill, a scrape to repair, and a small tomato sauce stain on my kitchen wall to cover up. Oh... and one more thing as well.
When I put up the cat trees in front of two of my windows, I didn't want the cats getting caught up in the blinds, so I removed them. It was then I discovered that the painters didn't bother to take them down when they painted. Which means the only window insets that got fully painted were the ones upstairs (because I removed those). All of them downstairs window insets were left in place. Which makes absolutely no sense at all. But that's pretty much par for the course with the contractor I hired, so I'm not surprised.
When it comes to painting, there is one rule that is absolute...
If you spend the time to mask and cover everything, you won't spill a drop and won't accidentally get paint where you shouldn't. If you don't spend the time to mask and cover, you will get paint on all the things you don't want paint to get on.
Every time I risk not masking, I regret it. This time I masked everything except the wall with the scrape behind my front door. Sure enough, I splattered paint all over my baseboard and my floor.
Will I ever learn?
Which is why loathe painting so much.
Posted on November 28th, 2018
When I bought my home, there was a lot of remodeling that needed to be done so that my mom would be safe living here. She couldn't walk on carpet very well, so I had to replace all the flooring with hardwood. She couldn't use the showers because there was a lip she'd trip over, so I had to put in a zero-entry pan. I had to remodel the stairwell railing so she wouldn't fall down the stairs. It went on and on. And that's not even touching on some of the cosmetic things I wanted to change (the sponge-painted accent walls had to go).
When it came time to hire a contractor, I had to be sure they were available ASAP and would do high-quality work. I ended up going with one of the most expensive options, but I felt I'd get what I paid for. My mom's safety was worth more than money.
After the work was completed, I was fairly happy with everything. I ended up being more expensive than quoted... took longer than quoted... and was one of the most frustrating things I've ever done... but it's all good.
Then I started living with it and noticing things.
Fixtures were crooked. Workmanship was shoddy. Paint bled onto my floors. And these were not isolated incidents... they were everywhere. I paid a premium price for shitty work.
Which meant I had to remodel my remodel. I started with the horrific job they did on my "California corners" on my baseboards. Instead of being sanded smooth, they just painted over their shitty mis-matched bullshit...
Then back in August I saw that the paint was sagging off the wall of my guest bathroom...
Upon inspection I noticed that the texture which was still stuck to the wall was applied badly. They didn't bother to sand down the patchwork they applied after ripping the mirror off the wall...
Not only that, but they didn't bother to match the texture that was already on the wall. There are no less than six texture patterns across the whole bathroom along with ugly smooth spots where they didn't apply texture at all...
This is infuriating.
Everything is so messed up that the only realistic way to fix it is to scrape everything off, sand it all smooth, then start over from scratch.
I don't have time for that right now, so I started removing the texture that was sagging. The reason it was sagging is that they didn't sand off the paint from the previous texture, so the new texture couldn't stick to it...
And then something horrible started happening. The patch material that they used where the mirror used to be (and didn't sand down) was starting to turn to power. The texture would peel off the wall with the slightest scrape of my putty knife...
Even worse? As you can see, chunks of the patchwork was falling out of the wall as well.
What a fucking joke. My contractor's team did the shittiest job possible and apparently didn't give a crap that it would fall apart within two years. Some of the repairs were so badly applied that I had to cut them out of the wall so it would flatten out.
After scraping practically the entire wall and sanding around the area that fell off, I was ready to tape off everything and re-texture...
Despite coming from a can, the new texture went up easy. I dare say that my effort matched the walls better than the various textures my contractor used...
After painting, the wall looked far from perfect... but at least it wasn't sagging and flaking any more...
Maybe next Summer I'll be able to take a week off work, pull out the fixtures and furniture, strip everything down, then do a proper repair. In the meanwhile, this will have to do.
I remain dumbfounded that people don't seem to take pride in their workmanship or build anything to last anymore. The only way to make sure of anything now is to do it yourself.
Posted on July 23rd, 2018
Apparently "white" as a description is variable. In the case of the grout I bought for my cat feeding station, "white" was actually "light gray." Since this is entirely what I didn't want, I had to make yet another trip to Home Depot in order to try a different brand of "white."
Second time was a charm, because I ended up getting exactly what I wanted...
Since this will eventually match what I want for my kitchen remodel, it was important to get exactly what I wanted... a clean, sleek, simple look where the tile was more of a suggestion. That way it's not boring and flat, but also not something which calls too much attention to itself.
Overall, I'm very happy with how everything turned out. Sure there are some minor details I'd do differently now that I've learned so much... but that's the way it goes. My only other option is to never try to build anything, never learn anything, and never accomplish anything.
So next up?
I'd love to hop on my laundry room remodel right away. That would put one step closer to remodeling my kitchen... but I've got other projects I need to knock off my list first.
But eventually... one day...
Posted on April 2nd, 2018
A while back I decided I wanted to build a pergola over the section of my patio which isn't already occupied by my catio enclosure. Initially I had the idea of fitting a cat-run on the outer edges, but ultimately decided that wouldn't work because it obstructed too much of my view. Instead I think I want something much more simple and open. I also like the idea of having a porch swing on one end and a low-fence creating a barrier at the back. That way I could put a small table and a couple chairs up against it...
I also like the idea of having a cat-run extending from the catio to a viewing platform on top of the pergola for Jake and Jenny. By making it fit between the slats, I could easily remove it if I ever wanted to...
And so... I'm making a parts list and saving my money for the materials needed. It shouldn't take too long to get it put together once I've cut all the pieces, probably just a three-day weekend.
Can't wait for wood-shop season to begin.
Posted on February 11th, 2018
Spring is just around the corner... so better prepare yourself, because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Priced to Move! And... Blade Runner 2049 just dropped to $15 on iTunes. Knew it wouldn't stay at $20 forever given how badly they need to make up for the poor box office showing. Such a shame. I loved this movie. Yes, it ran a bit too long in parts and was in desperate need of further editing, but it ultimately pays off I think. Beautiful film...
The sound mix on Blade Runner 2049 is one of the best I've ever heard. Completely immersive, and all channels are beautifully distinct or blended as required. My cats are more than a little confused by the effectiveness of the spatial sound.
• No! Got a call from the Democratic party this past week wanting donations. My response? "Democrats representing my state are running off lobbyist money and obviously don't need my help. Why don't you go ask Patty Murray's Big Pharma friends for money and leave me the hell out of it. Take me off your call list and never, EVER call me for money again." Hopefully that will scare them off, just like I've already scared off the Republicans. Since I am not party-affiliated and vote for /donate to both of them, I have double the bullshit to deal with. I will never allow a political party to send my money to corrupt assholes in the pocket of lobbyists... from now on, I donate to specific candidates I feel are worth it. Not that there's many of them left.
• Good! Despite the fast that The Good Doctor was created by David Shore, I held off watching it because I have a friend whose son is autistic, and I don't like the idea of the struggles that autistic persons go through being exploited for entertainment. Then this past week I finally decided to take a look and was just amazed...
It's a very good show and didn't seem exploitative at all. I binged all 14 episodes I had. If you're not watching and like medical dramas, it's worth a look.
• Bio! And speaking of good television shows... iTunes has a free preview of A.P. Bio which stars Glenn Howerton (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and That 80's Show) as a teacher who is stuck in Ohio once his Harvard dream job passes him by. The result is actually funny... but also smart and even touching...
These things always look so stupid. When they turn out to be more than that, it's such a pleasant surprise. Patton Oswald is just the icing on the cake.
• Jones! And it seems as though Netflix will be keeping my monthly fee for.a while longer... new Jessica Jones is coming next month...
It's been revealed that Disney has no plans to take over the Netflix Marvel shows and move them to their new streaming service. Thankfully. Don't fix what's not broken. The Netflix shows are mostly awesome, unlike the ABC Television shows which suck ass.
• Unmolded! When I had my home renovated, I hired a fairly pricey contractor because I didn't want crap falling apart after a year. For the most part, I think it was a smart move... though there are some details of their work that pisses me off. Primary of which is the shitty molding installation.
My home has rounded "California Corners" which I hate hate hate. Mostly I just don't like how they look. But also because it made finding molding so difficult that I had to have it all custom made to get the clean and simple look I wanted. It was more money than I wanted to pay, but whatever.
Except... the installation was shitty. The corners were just slapped on there with no attempt made to blend the seams. I caught some of them before painting and sanded them a bit, but most of them had already been done and looked like this...
What chaps my ass is that it would have taken minutes to fix this before painting. But, since it wasn't fixed, that means I have to spend considerable more time sanding them out while making sure I'm not damaging the wall or floor...
But the result is worth it. I'm just one more coat of leveling paint (after the first coat dries) to the seamless molding I should have had from the beginning...
One down, eight to go.
Until next Bullet Sunday, enjoy winter's last gasp...
Posted on January 22nd, 2018
I always make fun of the people who say "Are you kidding me? Are you KIDDING me? ARE YOU KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW?!???" when they see their finished home revealed at the end of Fixer Upper (the home renovation show on HGTV). I mean, who says that? It's like, the stupidest thing you could say. YES, WE ARE KIDDING YOU! THIS IS NOT YOUR HOUSE!
Then just now I was unloading a box of cat stuff from Chewy. The cats were obsessed with the shipping box... until I opened the cupboard where the cat food is. Then they abandon the box come ripping into the kitchen like they're going to be fed dinner... an hour and a half early! It was then I found myself saying "Are you kidding me? Are you KIDDING me? ARE YOU KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW?!???" — And then I realized either
It's probably a combination of both those things. My television is tuned to HGTV 90% of the time. I've seen every episode of Fixer Upper eleventy-billion times. I have all the clients memorized. It only stands to reason that the stupid crap people say on these shows is going to get embedded in my brain.
In many ways, watching shows like Fixer Upper is torture this time of year. I want nothing more than to clear out my garage and set up my wood shop so I can get started on all the projects I've dreamed up for my home this year... but that has to wait until Spring when I won't have to worry about my car being piled over with snow.
The last thing I want to do is walk outside in the morning, find an avalance on my car, and find myself screaming "Are you kidding me? Are you KIDDING me? ARE YOU KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW?!???"
Posted on January 17th, 2018
Buying a home is much like attaching a boat anchor to your neck and jumping into an ocean of debt. Eventually you'll drown, but for as long as you can manage to keep your head above water, it's nice. I like having a place of my own that I can remodel as I want, design as I want, and otherwise make it mine.
Along with the debt, there's a never-ending (and ever-expanding) list of things to do. Things to clean. Things to repair. Things to change. The number of things on my list is overwhelming. Rather than let it drive me insane, I decided to focus on attacking just one thing every day... no matter how small. Fix a hole in the wall. Put together a piece of IKEA that's been sitting in the garage. Clean out under the sink. That kind of thing.
Today's task was removing the plastic stuck behind my appliance handles.
The former owner of my home kept it clean, but there were a lot of changes I wanted to make. One of them was to buy all new stainless steel appliances. In order to protect the stainless steel finish, everything arrives covered with plastic. Which would be fine... except it's not stuck to the appliances, it's screwed into the appliances. Which means you can't just rip it off. But that's exactly what the installers do. And so you're left with jagged ugly plastic screwed behind all the handles. To get it out of there, you have to remove the handles.
Which is easier said than done.
Every handle has a different kind of "hidden screw" head. Even handles on the same appliance can be different.
Which meant I had to go out and buy a full set of screwdriver bits so I could figure out how to unscrew star screws, hex screws, and other weird-ass screws. Which I found at Home Depot yesterday. Eventually I managed to find the bits that worked perfectly, but I've already lost two of them somewhere.
Adding "Find missing screw bits" to my ever-growing list.