Saturday, August 17, 2019

Garage Lighting Phase 3

So with the installation of a third outlet box the interior lighting is now complete. Huzzah!

So now all 6 lights are active instead of just 5 of them. I still have a few items left to do, such as wiring in some external lights and replacing the 14/2 wiring down to the switch with some 12/3 so that I can control the garage door opener and extension cord spool separately from the (motion-activated) interior lights and (motion-activated, not yet installed) exterior lights.

In other news Scooty-Puff Sr is in jail temporarily while I deal with a small tear in the seat before it becomes a big tear in the seat.

Shouldn't be too much fuss, just gotta get in there and stitch it up.

I also went ahead and cleaned the seats in the van with some upholstery cleaner. Got a bunch of dirt out but it's still possibly not 100% clean. It's kind of hard to tell with the sun shining on it since the light tends to mask some of the dirt. No photos of this, just picture mostly-clean van seats in your mind's eye. I believe in you, you can do it!

Thursday, August 15, 2019

A Vole Hole?

What a curious discovery in the boulevard today.

It's a bit small for a gopher hole and there's no dirt piled up around the hole so it was dug from below rather than from above. I've never seen another like it so I haven't a clue where the other end(s) of it might be. How very peculiar.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

My rear end is sealed

Got the seals replaced in Orthrus from the transmission on back. Took a bit of time in the shop since it's a pretty old bike and they didn't have all the tools and so on they needed to do things and had to buy/make some stuff. But it's all wrapped up now and it's good to have the whole gang back together again. Hopefully it won't be dripping any more oil onto the driveway now.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Miraculously Restored

This morning I decided that I was tired of dealing with the flattened foam in the driver's seat of the pedovan. Over the years of people sliding over the side of the seat to get in and out, the foam had been crushed and flattened to a shape entirely unbefitting a posterior of refined taste such as my own.

After a bit of muddling with some bolts and screws, I was miraculously able to refurbish the seat to look almost like new again!

... by, of course, swapping it out with the passenger seat base.

The good news is that nobody ever sits in the passenger seat, and those who do should be thankful to be chauffeured around in the first place and not whine that the seat foam isn't to their satisfaction.

I was a little bit tempted to swap the backs too, but because the upholstery is asymmetric (there's a hole on one side that the arm rest goes through) it would have been a bit more involved as I'd have to skin the seat, swap the foams, then re-stuff them and that's honestly just a bit too much work.

While I was poking at stuff I noticed that I was getting a bit of rust along the lower edge of the passenger side door. Upon closer inspection I discovered that the sealant along the seam of where the lower part of the outer door skin is folded over the inner door stamping had failed, and was trapping condensation water that would normally drain out the weep holes at the bottom of the door. I gave it a quick hit with a cup wheel to knock off the old sealant, loose paint and corrosion, and smeared on some silicone to keep the water from collecting there again.

At some point I'll pick up a can of white rustoleum or something to add a layer of protection over the bare metal there, but given I live in California I'm not too worried about the rust progressing much before I get around to that.

There's a bit of rust staining on the outside of the panel and I'm pondering what to do about it. I could leave it as is and just not care, or I could go through the trouble of sourcing some matching white paint, spraying up part of the body panel, sanding and buffing to blend it in, etc. It's a lot of work for a minor problem but I do have a bit of paint missing elsewhere on the van so I might end up going down that road eventually anyway.

But again: California, so I'm not in a big rush.

There's still plenty of stuff on my to-do list on the van. Still need to swap out the steering wheel, finish up the wiring from the aux battery to the inverter and the power ports that I mounted to the seat bases a while back, and of course build the bed/bench/shower/sink/whatever module that I've been cooking up in my head to make the rear pleasantly campable.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Shifting Perspectives

This piece looks important.

I guess that explains why Rabbit Season wasn't shifting right recently. Buttered it up with loctite and snugged it back down, so hopefully that'll be the last of that issue.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Laying Some Pipe

Or perhaps unlaying, as the case may be. I removed the last of the vestigial plumbing from the old garage sink (which I finally managed to get dispose of, as an aside) and replaced the shitty 30c hose bib washer connections with a fancy dual ball valve. Now I'm at least 93% more likely to switch the water off when I'm not using the washer (still never gonna happen).

Interestingly this plumbing will be somewhat short lived, as I'll eventually be relocating the washer and dryer to the west wall rather than the south wall, which will (along with replacing the hot water tank with a tankless and relocating it outside) eliminate the mess of pipes going across the stairs between the garage and the house. It's a bit absurd that they were ever there in the first place, but, well, I've learned not to ask too many questions about stuff like that.

I had, with completely unfounded optimism, assumed I could get this job done before lunch when the heat of the day would set in. Two issues prevented that, though. Firstly, this piping is at the low point of the system and I had a great deal of difficulty getting the water out of the pipes. The second, fairly minor, issue was an incomplete solder joint that happened on the valve connection for the hot water of all things. Luckily I caught that while it was still hissing air before the water reached that connection, and I was able to shut things down, re-drain the system, and re-sweat the connection without too much fuss.

In the end I managed to wrap things up by 12:30 completely covered in sweat, but a nice hot shower washed away those worries and I was still able to get a late lunch by 1:00pm. Did a load of laundry after that and everything performed flawlessly.

Feels good to have this project checked off, as it'd been on the list for a while now.

Take Off, Ya Hoser

Got some hose reels installed in the front and back. Front has a 100ft 3/4 inch hose and rear has a 50 foot 5/8 inch hose (5/8 is standard for garden hoses).

I went with the 3/4 hose in front because the longer length will tend to restrict the flow a bit more, and it wasn't much more expensive than the 5/8. It's nice to be able to actually water the plantings out front, though eventually I'd like to finish installing the automatic sprinklers that the previous owners had started... Eventually.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Time to Get Swole

Gave the UPS guy a workout, now it's my turn. At least, it will be once the bar arrives.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Take a long walk up a short hill

Saturday hosted another hike day, the first in a little while. The crew and I went to San Pedro Valley Park in Linda Mar to hoist our corpses to the top of Montara Mountain.

Friday, July 19, 2019

The Search for Stain

So my Ikea patio set was starting to look a bit worse for wear, so I decided to give it a little refurbishment. Since I had some wiping varnish kicking around I decided to give a hidden spot a little quick sanding and splash some on to see how it would look.

Answer: not too hot. This is unfortunate as I wanted to limit my sanding and refinishing to the spots that were actually showing wear, and not have to get into all the little nooks and crannies to make sure everything looked the same.

The good news is that Ikea sells the stain for this furniture set. So I go online to Ikea's website and check to see if the local store has it in stock, and the nearest location that I can get it is an Ikea in frikkin' Arizona. I think to myself "great, it probably has some chemical in it know to the state of California to cause cancer" and so they can't sell it here or some junk.

Just to be sure I drop by the Ikea after work and check to see if maybe it just had a different California-specific SKU or something, but after searching the shelves I can't even find a spot tagged for it, never mind any cans of it.

As a last ditch effort I check with one of the guys manning the "I'm totally lost and need to find something" terminals and he looks it up and is like "oh, you're out of luck, we don't have any. Next shipment of it says it should be here next week."

I wasn't so sure I believed him, but I drop in the week after, this past Thursday, and wouldn't you know it...

Fuckin' miracles!

Crap Flap

So my dryer vent was literally just a hole in the wall that, while it did have some metal trim around it, wasn't exactly much of a dryer vent. I'd bought a replacement vent right when I moved in as part of replacing the shitty corrugated aluminum dryer vent hose inside, but didn't install it right away as I had other more pressing tasks to deal with. I also wanted to do it up nicely with a coat of paint and so on.

Well, today I decided to knock it out. Or, this week really as I painted it before putting it up.

First, the primer. I used an automotive spray primer for good adhesion to the metal.

Then came the exterior semi-gloss paint.

It went on pretty thick and held the brush strokes, but in the end it looked fine so I'm not too fussed. All that was left was to install it.

Kinda rushed the caulking but meh, whatever. It's fine. The actual waterproofing is courtesy of the half-tube of silicone I put in behind the vent before shoving it into place, the stuff around the edges is just for aesthetics.

So now I have a proper dryer vent complete with a rain hood and crap flap! Hurrah!

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Plowing through the back 40

Just a quick 40 mile bike ride this morning to put some hours in on the road bikes, Purple Haze in this case. It went pretty well though my lower back is still the weak link in the chain despite doing straight-leg deadlifts to try to beef it up. Oh well, gotta keep working on that I guess.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Use what you got

Put the new boards in my driveway to replace the rotten swiss cheese I pulled out a few weeks ago. Redwood heartwood, with a splash of wiping varnish to help keep the water out.

The middle board is an off-cut without finish for comparison. I didn't sand the boards as it seemed like it would be a bit silly, considering their application.

Anyway, the installation went well, though it left me with the distinct impression that I'm spending an absurd amount of money on clamps.

I dunno, maybe I'll find some other use for them someday.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Let's slow things down

Literally, in this case. Did the brakes on the R65 last week and put together the video of it today.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Dawn of the First Day

Today was productive. I started off by replacing the misbehaving washer fluid pump on the pedovan.

The new one actually makes noise when you push the washer button, so that's cool. I also got a new grommet at the same time, and the new one has a nifty little crud screen on it. It took a hot minute for the washer fluid to actually start coming out after I installed the new pump, but eventually it did and my windshield was swept clean once more.

Other than that I did some pruning and yard maintenance, which kept me busy through to a late lunch, after which I kicked back and relaxed.

Tomorrow is another fresh new day!

Sunday, June 30, 2019

A Brisk Walk

Took a walk through Rancho San Vicente to follow up on last week's ride. I didn't have a lot of confidence in the StreetView app working well but I thought I'd give it a fair shake and... my hesitation was well justified. The results were unusably bad. Embarrassingly bad. Like "I don't even know how this app shipped" bad.

The hike was good though. Didn't Strava the first 3 or so miles doing the short loop since I was wrestling with the StreetView failure. Dropped the camera at the van for the long loop after I'd had enough of that frustration and just continued on as a regular hike.

Gonna have a few choice words to write in the bug report for this.

Monday, June 24, 2019

A Portal to a New World

Ok maybe not really but I wanted to check out the west entrance to Rancho San Vicente OSP which isn't on Google Maps yet, and doesn't have a lot of signage on it.

The entrance is right next to Almaden Quicksilver, so if things connected well it'd only be a short bit of pavement to bridge the two and provide a dirt link over to Calero County Park and Rancho Canada del Oro OSP. That means I'd be able to mountain bike from basically my front door all the way down to RCdO with barely a few quick stretches of paved road, which is pretty cool. Of course, I'm not sure my legs would hold out very well.

Anyway, it was a fun ride. Got all the way to Cottle Rest before turning back, as I had a late start and it was a pretty hot day.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Live from a point hovering above my back

Might as well share a snapshot from a test run this afternoon.

The light/dark banding in the sky is apparently fixed with the firmware I just updated the camera with after I got back, though keeping the horizon level is going to be a challenge.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Taking photos of everything, all at once

Got the backpack mount built for my Theta S 360 camera. Used a combination of 3d printing (for the joints), inanimate carbon (fiber) rods, and socket head cap screws combined with brass threaded inserts to put it all together. (Plus some GoPro bolts for the movable joints and a 1/4-20 screw for the Theta's tripod thread)

I was originally thinking of attaching the rods to the printed bits using epoxy but at some point along the way I got the bright idea to use hot glue instead, with the thought that it would make it easier to replace some of the joint bits later if they get smashed (as they're much more likely to be a failure point than the rods). I'm not 100% convinced that it'll be strong enough to go the distance but I can always scrape them off and print new ones to epoxy into place later if it turns out to be a problem.

The CAD took maybe a day or two to do and the printing took about 1.5-ish hours per piece for the 9 pieces, printed in PETG. They could certainly be printed faster with different settings, but I've been setting up my printer lately for higher quality rather than higher speed, so I don't mind the extra wait.

I will definitely have to watch out for low hanging branches, but luckily most of the places I plan to go aren't terribly overgrown. The whole thing is pretty light even with the camera up high like this, so it's likely that I won't notice the extra weight when I'm out on a hike.

If the weather is nice I wouldn't mind giving it a test run this weekend. I guess we'll see!

Mysteries Revealed!

It's a plum tree.

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.