Friday, June 14, 2019

It used to be wood

Some of the expansion joint whatever wood spacers in my driveway extension were looking a bit second hand, so I decided to pull them out in anticipation of replacing them with some fresh new pressure treated planks.

The termites already did most of the job for me. Good news is it made the lumber really nice and light to carry over to the trash bin.

Monday, June 10, 2019

The March of Progress

Almost forgot I snapped this Pano last week from the top of a hill near the Google campus. Lots of new buildings going up.

Brb melting

Temperature peaked at 41c this afternoon outside. Thank goodness for air conditioning.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

It's so fluffy I'm gonna die

I had got some eggs to experiment with tossing them in the rice cooker at the end of its cycle while the rice was still piping hot. It worked ok the first time I tried it when I actually woke up in time to get the egg in right away, but the second time I slept in a while and the "keep warm" temperature wasn't really hot enough to cook the egg to my liking.

I still had 6 eggs to go through though, so today I decided to try making a soufflé omelette to go along with my usual oatmeal instead. It turned out pretty well and wasn't all that hard to make. It's peculiar to eat though, because it's fluffy and browned and looks like a pancake, but when you eat it it tastes savoury like an omelette.

Just an ordinary afternoon around the office

I guess summer is here, folks are starting to enjoy the warm weather.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

I Can't Drive 55

I mean I might be able to but it'll be a bit tricky. Luckily there's a shop in Palo Alto that can rebuild these, as the original part is no longer available.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

I see a white door and I want it painted white

I still plan on binning this door and replacing it with a new one, but I realize that I'm lazy enough for that to not happen any time particularly soon.

So in the mean time I don't really want to stare at how ugly the old door is, and given that I have all the materials to spruce it up, up it will be spruced.

I'm only doing the inside and sides of the door and jamb though. The reason for that is simple: the previous owners had a dog.

And yes, the back of the door looks just as chewed up as that. I'd need to do a fair amount of rebuilding to fix it, and I'm definitely not interested in going down that route when this door is itself not long for this world.

Sometimes you need to half-ass things while you're waiting on the other half of your ass.

California Fresh

Don't forget to chew your air before inhaling.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

If the toilet's rockin', don't come knockin'

Toilet in the master was a bit on the wobbly side, and had been since I moved in. I assumed it would be the classic case of a broken flange, but when I removed the toilet to examine the situation I discovered that this was not the case at all.

The flange was in great shape, so what was the issue? Digging a bit deeper...

Of course, it's not screwed down to the floor, because there is no floor there. No doubt at some point the subfloor had got a bit of rot in it and apparently they cut it out and didn't bother patching it back in properly when they redid the bathroom. Instead they filled the gap with spray-foam insulation. Brilliant.

Luckily there was a floor joist under the missing part of floor, so it was a simple matter of filling the conveniently sized 1.5 inch gap with a few bits of plywood.

That gave a solid enough base to screw the flange in, and then all that was left to do was install a new wax ring and drop the toilet back into place.

Good as new and rock-fucking-solid. Eventually I'd like to replace the flooring in here, as the laminate wood flooring is just the wrong material for the job in a wet area like this; the MDF backing soaks up water like a sponge and breaks down really quickly. I'll likely replace it with tile, but that's a job for another day.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

New Helmet Day!

Gotta protect my noggin.

Old one had a bit of a tear in the gasket around the visor, and it was just getting on in years. It was time for a refresh. I also managed to actually get a white one this time, unlike last time when I misinterpreted what the colour name actually meant and ended up with a silver one.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Leaks begone!

Finally got back around to Orthrus and its leaky float needle. Went in with the bamboo skewer and some lapping compound to clean up the seat this time and after a little bit of fiddling and fussing it seems to finally be holding! Huzzah!

Still dealing with a little bit of a stumble off idle and of course the clutch actuator seal leaking but those are minor issues that I'll just have the shop look at during my next oil change.

Saturday, May 25, 2019


Hummingbirbs, like most birbs, aren't particularly smart. Relevant to this post, they don't know how windows work.

Luckily hummingbirds are also assholes, so I don't need to feel particularly bad about this one smashing head-first into my living room window. Also it flew off shortly after I took this picture, so I guess all's well that ends well.

A Sandwich

Rolled out yesterday on Gregg the CB650F to go get a sandwich in Paso Robles. 3 hours to head down via 25 and about 4 to come back via 1.

Well worth going out of my way for.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Yard work never ends

Pruned back a bit of the neighbour's tree today that was starting to loom over my yard. Around here you're allowed to prune any foliage that overhangs your property, and I think maybe even responsible for it? Either way you can do pretty much whatever you like to the tree so long as you don't kill it or make it topple over. I just pruned it back a little bit so it wasn't encroaching as much.

I also did some deadheading on the rose and a bit of weeding here and there. I need to at some point dig up the mulch in the boulevard and replace it, as it's pretty much completely contaminated with weeds. But that will require locating a source for some replacement mulch, which I've been too lazy to do.

In other news: blooms!

Ups and Downs

Took a little ride on BlackBirb yesterday, half way up Kennedy and back down again. Didn't want to overdo it, just get in a good workout now that I don't have to worry about injuring myself right before a trip. Didn't injure myself all the same, which is good, because I like not injuring myself.

Another Reno trip come and gone

I was looking forward to riding Rabbit Season through the mountains this year, but the weather had other plans. On the way out it was snowing at altitude, so it was a good thing I opted for the PedoVan at the last minute.

Reno itself was a bit cloudy and rainy, though somehow it still managed to be shockingly dry. It's really weird when you're taking a shower and having difficulty lathering the soap because the parts of you that aren't directly in the path of the shower head just don't stay wet.

There was actually quite a bit of snow in the hills, but my hotel room faced the wrong direction to see most of it. All the same, I know what snow looks like and really don't care to stare at it all day long.

I had a great time hanging out with friends, and the weather was a bit nicer on the drive back home. Sunny and mostly clear, but still kinda cold.

Maybe next year I'll be back on the bike again, assuming global warming doesn't throw me another curve ball.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Chain me down

Since the weather is going to be shit heading through the Sierras this year, I finally got off my duff and bought a set of chains so that the CHP doesn't yell at me for being unprepared.

Not too hard to install, but definitely something that was worth practicing in my nice warm, dry driveway first rather than laying in a pile of slush at the side of the road. Hopefully I won't ever need to put them to use, but now I've got them if I need them.

Why use your whole ass?

When only half will do.

This is, surprisingly, one of the better boxes. A different one in this room is literally shattered into pieces inside the wall.

If it weren't for the damn texture I could really easily cut a hole in the drywall, fix the box, patch it up and be done, but instead I need to fret about being able to reasonably match the stupid knockdown crap they sprayed over top. And of course it's on every single wall and ceiling in the whole house. Ugh.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Let the sparks fly!

Due to "reasons" I had a few more LED shop lights kicking around than I originally planned on installing. I was thinking of keeping them around until I rebuild the hantavirus shed, but that project is a ways off yet so I figured I'd put them to use now and buy more lights later when I need them.

The back half of the car hole was pretty well taken care of with the existing lights, but the front half was pretty moody in comparison. Not anymore!

Dankness begone!

I used a mysterious 2x4 that was left in the rafters to bridge the gap to hang the leftmost light. For the sake of practicing with it, I used the Kreg pocket hole jig I bought a while back to make screw holes to join the 2x4 to the existing framing. It worked quite well and I learned some things about using it.

I installed another outlet at the far end here, just on the other side of where the new 2x4 joins, wired to the duplex pair of outlets I installed earlier towards the middle of that beam to replace the single lightbulb fixture stuffed with a 3-way 2-prong adapter, itself stuffed with 3-prong adapters.

The wiring was pretty straightforward all the way up to the moment I switched the power back on and heard a lovely pop. Turns out that somehow I'd managed to get the hot wire on the new outlet pinched between the outlet screw and the romex clamp. Oops. Couldn't do that again if I tried. Bit of electrical tape to fix the pinch and got the wires packed a bit better and everything worked second try. Huzzah!

There's one more outlet box I need to wire in to light up the mirrored twin of this one on the other side of the garage, but that'll wait until tomorrow at the earliest.

I also took the opportunity to swap out some of the cream colored outlets elsewhere in the house with white ones to match both the walls and the faceplates that were installed. I really don't know why people mismatch these things, it's not hard to get the right colors! I figure nobody will notice the cream ones up in the rafters here.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Out with the old, in with the new

It's sparky time!

My trusty and somewhat aged Samsung 245T monitors have been getting a little cranky in the morning, so I grabbed a capacitor kit off of Amazon to breathe a little new life into them.

Before and after, sorry the board isn't in the same orientation.

The process is pretty easy, just mark all the old capacitors with a sharpie, unsolder them one at a time and replace them with the matching spec from the replacement kit. A little bit of silastic to keep things from vibrating and it's good as new.

I'm gonna let the silastic cure overnight and then swap this one out for the one currently serving as a second monitor on my mac rather than having them both out of service at the same time. I also need to recap the power board in my Yiynova tablet monitor but I doubt I'll find a premade kit for it, so it'll be off to Digikey for that one.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Monday, May 6, 2019

Shove your caulk in there

But only once it's good and ready, gotta take your time and do it right.

Got the grout and caulk in along the window, and also added some caulk to the shower seat mount (but only along the top half, the bottom half needs to be open to allow the drainage of any water that does get in there).

I could probably get away with taking a shower in there tonight but just to be safe I'll wait until tomorrow evening to enjoy the fruit of my labours.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

I Am Grout

My fancy shower with the rain/waterfall head and all the body jets was showing some signs of leaking on the baseboards just outside of it, a sure sign that water was getting in behind the tile on the walls, getting trapped at the bottom, and finding its way out over the edge of the pan.

The problem was twofold. First of all, some of the tiles were coming loose, and a bunch of the grout was failing.

Second problem, the previous owners, clearly having noticed this leaking, tried to apply a bunch of "caulk of desperation" in order to stop it, but applied it in all the wrong places.

And then added scotch tape over top for bonus marks.

You see, if you have water spilling out the front corners of the shower pan (or tub), the problem is almost never actually at the bottom of the wall inside the shower. Rather, the water is probably going to be entering much higher up the wall and dripping down the backside of the tile, or down cracks in the grout. Adding caulking along the bottom merely forms a dam that keeps that water from seeping out into the shower pan and finding its way down the drain, and instead forces it along the bottom of the tile, in behind the shower doors, and into the adjoining walls and baseboard. No bueno.

The fix, first and foremost, is to deal with the tiles that aren't sticking down properly. Exhibit 1: how not to apply thin set.

Yeah, that's not holding anything to anything. That tile should have been back-buttered, and the ledge it was atop should have had a nice thick bed of mortar evened out with a notched trowel. Ideally the ledge wouldn't be constructed out of basic bitch water resistant drywall but at least it's not the regular stuff that falls apart the instant water touches it.

Next up: fix the grout. I need to wait until the mortar sets on the two tiles I buttered up before I can grout them, but the fresh grout in the joints below it is quite an improvement over the sad, cracked grout I scraped out.

The adhesive I used takes about 48hrs to fully cure so I'll be able to grout on Monday evening and then get back to showering in luxury on Tuesday evening.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Out with the old, in with the new

Did the break-in oil change on Gregg, my Honda CB650F.

Conveniently San Jose has curb side oil and filter recycling. They provide jugs for the oil and a baggie for the filter, and pick it up on trash day, dropping off a replacement set of jugs and baggies. Gregg only takes about 3L of oil so one jug was more than enough. If I wanted to do my own oil change on the PedoVan though, I'd be having to get a few more jugs as it takes more like 3.5 gallons.

Anyway, this should keep me rolling for the next year on Gregg at least. Next bike that needs attention is Orthrus, which has a slow oil leak around the clutch actuator rod, and I still need to attend to the float needles not seating quite perfectly. I'm gonna let the dealer handle replacing the seal this summer when I take it in for its yearly, and I'll be fixing the float needles myself whenever I find the time to get around to it.

Monday, April 22, 2019

The Ways of the Wood Elf

Decided to play around with some of the hantavirus-soaked scrap wood that used to be the garage shelves, and use some to practice a bit of joinery.

Turned out not half bad I think. The only major gaffe was not realizing that the dovetail gauge has two different angles per side, so the tail is a little bit on the uneven side. This has been duly noted for next time. I also could have been a bit tighter on the trimming, and trying to clear out the middle by cross-cutting with the chisel really didn't work out as well as I hoped (and I had low expectations to begin with).

Sunday, April 21, 2019

I had a wheelie good time

Took a brief spin up Mt Umunhum on Saturday morning, with the goal of reaching the top by leg power for the first time.

(The big box is where they mounted the radar transmitter that turned all the frogs gay)

Thanks to Purple Haze I did indeed manage the task. It was a 3 hour ride in total, with a few rest stops included alongside the 2.5 hours spent actually pedalling. Rode alongside some rather friendly folk, one of whom was on her first ride up the hill as well.

The weather was just about perfect. It was just barely getting warm on the south side of the hill, and on the west side there was actually a pretty brisk sea breeze keeping things almost a bit too cool near the top, but everything worked out in the end just fine.

I'd like to try hiking to the top one of these days, though it'll be quite a slog. I've also got plans to pedal Blackbirb up there to try out the trail near the top via bike. So many things to do...

You spin me right round baby right round

Testing out some photosphere javascript I found. Wonder if this'll work...

That means you don't have to paint it, right?

The door kit clearly says "pre painted".

I mean, I guess nobody's gonna come arrest you if you don't paint it, but you really still should.

Anyway, just a bit more fixing up around the house, painting trim this time. It's not perfect yet, some parts will need another coat, but it's at least a huge improvement.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

I like to ride my bicycle

Took Blackbirb out for a little spin through the woods yesterday. Despite only being a 22 mile ride it was quite intense with a lot of climbing up some pretty steep hills.

I used the ride as a test-run of my new Theta V 360 cam and for the most part things went well. When I got home and tried to add the photospheres to Google Maps though, I discovered a minor problem: the camera didn't record any geotag data in the photo, because it apparently lacks a built-in GPS receiver.

"No problem," I says to myself, brimming with unsupported confidence, "I'll just use the GPX file my Garmin recorded to tag the photos and upload them from my desktop!"

Problem #1: My Garmin GPS records 'fit' files, not 'gpx' files. Thankfully there's a lot of converters around so this was relatively easy to fix.

Problem #2: You can't upload photospheres from the web UI of maps... like, what?

After a lot of hair pulling (and I don't have much hair to pull) I finally managed to take a roundabout route through Google Photos to get the GPS-updated photos back within reach of my mobile device so I could add them.

The quality isn't exactly mind blowing for the still photospheres but my goal long term isn't to do single exposures, which I could do with better quality by doing a manual pano with my phone camera, but to capture whole street view runs of trails that are lacking coverage. Doing that manually with the phone camera would be a slow, laborious nightmare, whereas with the 360 cam you can just let it record as you walk/bike along.

One project down, a billion more to go

Finally got to taking care of the finishing touches on the backyard drainage project on Friday evening.

I've got one bag of gravel left over but I'll probably make use of it either for extending another trench towards the fence if I need it, or I'll use it as a base for some small sidewalk repairs that need doing. Either way it's good to have it done.

The replaced mulch looks a bit obvious in this photo but it's drying back out to the same color already and in a few more days should be basically blended in. There's some rain in the forecast for Monday that should help things along.

Of course that's probably the last rain we'll get for the year so clearly I got this project done just in time!

Sunday, April 7, 2019

The Big Picture

While I enjoyed using my pocket projector for playing Skyrim on my wall, it was a little lacking in both resolution and brightness, so I figured it was time to throw down and get things upgraded.

Enter the Optoma UHD60, a very lovely 3000 lumen 4k projector.

The picture is still a little bit washed out due to the wall of south facing windows in this room, so I'll likely be ordering up some blinds soon to tame the nuclear hellfire raining in from the uncontrolled fusion reactor we circle every year, but other than that things worked out really well.

I did have some trouble trying to find a joist in the ceiling to attach the projector mount, as my stud finder was having a slight aneurysm. Going old school and tapping the drywall followed by drilling very fine holes until I ran into wood did the trick though, so I've got it mounted nice and solid.

The dangling cables are a temporary arrangement, and I'll soon be getting some longer white cables as well as some surface conduit stuff to hide them against the ceiling and wall. I'm also planning to replace the ugly black track lighting with a more subtle white system at some point.

Polishing my knobs

While I was out at Home Despot fetching some more gravel, I took a stop by the door section to pick up some hinges to replace the ugly ones on my furnace room door.

Ah, delightful.

I also finally got over my indecision and waffling and bought a new set of exterior door knobs and a fancy new deadbolt.

I got a keypad deadbolt for the front door so that I never have to have key-anxiety anymore when I'm heading out of the house. I'll still take a key of course, but it can stay safely tucked in my pocket while I use the keypad to open and close the door. Neat.

You might notice that the handle below the deadbolt is actually a bathroom knob rather than a keyed exterior knob, and there's a good reason for that. You see, the interior doors had been all upgraded to matching new levers, except that for some reason the lever leading into the master bath was a mismatched style. So I grabbed one of the correct style while I was shopping and, since I don't really need a locking handle on the front door with this fancy-pants deadbolt, I installed the one I'd taken from the master bathroom there. Conveniently, and not coincidentally, it happened to be the same style I bought for all the other doors.

I went with this style rather than the style matching the existing handles because A: it matched the leftover from the master bathroom, B: it was available with a tool-free rekeyable tumbler, and C: it's my house and I do what I want. They rekeyable tumbler is the same variety that the deadbolt has too, so I now have one key that opens every exterior door in the house.

Which is to say I actually have 6 keys that open every exterior door in the house, as, without having planned it and/or noticed, I grabbed 3 locksets off the shelf with matching key codes, each of which came with 2 keys. The deadbolt had a different key code, but I was able to use the rekeying feature to make it match the handles.

This is a huge improvement over having only one key that opens the front door deadbolt, and no keys that open any other locks in the house including the front door handle.

Three of the five doors (front door, and both garage doors) were a mess of beaver chewed wood and stripped out screw holes, so I ended up spending a few hours struggling to make things fit properly. Thankfully I had some left over 5/8" dowel so I could drill out the screw holes and glue in dowel sections to rescue the situation. All the exterior doors are slated for replacement at some point though, so it need only be a temporary fix.

I might want to push up the schedule for that replacement, considering the neon yellow furry mold that was growing inside the exterior garage door. Something tells me that door is not long for this world.

A lovely day in the garden

Did a little bit of gardening work this weekend. Topped off a bit of my drainage trough with gravel to level it with the surrounding dirt (it had settled a bit, and I may have underfilled it a little initially) and covered the level section with mulch, as well as the trench I dug over to the existing drainage line from the sump.

I ran out of gravel though, so I didn't finish it this weekend. I did get more gravel though, so I'll be prepared next time I get the urge.

I also staked the weird looking plant in the front yard that had lost its footing.

It's not the prettiest stake, but it does the job just fine.