Sunday, February 23, 2020

Go Towards the Light

This weekend was a home improvement weekend. I decided to stop dawdling and finally install the pot light in the shower (though for some reason they don't call them pot lights around here, go fig), and install the motion light on the driveway apron.

First up was a trip down to the Home Despot for some supplies. I needed to actually buy a pot light first off, as well as pick up some miscellaneous bits and bobs. I poked around the lighting section a bit and found that I could buy an individual LED insert for around $25 that I'd have to install into a pot light can, or I could spend $27 to get one that I wouldn't need the can for, which would save me $10. Or, I could buy a 4-pack of LED inserts for $24.99. I'd still have to buy the can, but given I wanted to replace the other insert in the bathroom (it was a daylight color temp one and I wasn't feeling it with the cool light) it made sense to get the 4-pack for less money and have some inserts left over.

The master bathroom has 3 switches that have been there since I moved in. One switch controls a single pot light above the sink, one switch has a combo control for the fan/nightlight/light, and one switch does nothing at all. I planned to use that third switch for the new light in the shower. Up in the attic I'd spotted a wire just laying about disconnected that had a piece of tape with "SPARE BATH" written on it, so obviously that would be wired up to the third switch, right?

Except, upon closer examination, it was coming out of the wrong part of the ceiling, a good 8 feet away from the bathroom switch. Not only that, but the switch itself wasn't connected to anything, and there were only 3 romex coming out of the top of the wall (one power-in, one to the light, one to the fan combo). The mystery doesn't end there, as there was 4 romex that came in the top of the electrical box, one of which was disconnected and tucked into the back of the box, so I'm guessing that one of them just goes to fucking Narnia or something.

I decided not to think about it too hard, and instead just fish up a new line to run the light.

I drilled a fresh hole in the top of the wall and fed the fish tape up into the wall from a knockout in the back of the electrical box. After about 5 minutes of poking around I finally got the fish tape to wiggle its way into the attic...

Well, that's not quite what I intended but I wasn't gonna shove it back down and try again. Luckily the hole was big enough to fit one more romex through it.

Next up was cutting a hole above the shower for the new can. There was a bit of framing to work around but I found a relatively centered spot that wouldn't involve chopping out anything load bearing. I had picked up an adjustable hole saw for the task, and chucked it up in my drill to give it a whirl. NB: this product is crap, do not buy it. The saw "works" by way of slicing into the drywall with two knife-shaped cutters, but the cutters are only knife shaped, so they slice into the wall board, but there's no hook shaped tooth to actually scrape the drywall away and leave clearance for the blade to progress inwards. It just tries to slowly rub the drywall away with the tapered side of the blade. Pure garbage. About the only good thing I can say is that it was cheap and made a convenient circular mark on the drywall that I could follow with my stab-saw. I may later re-grind the knives to add in a scraping tooth so it's actually useful, but I definitely won't be trying to use it as-is again.

Once I had manually cut the hole for the pot light, I wired up the can, stuffed it into place, struggled with the spring clips a bit, and then popped the LED insert in and it was done!

Well, except for the clean-up.

Mmm, soggy insulation. There was more before I took the pic, but I scooped it up and tossed it back in the attic.

Since this light took way longer to install than I thought it would, I left light number 2 for the following day, and then it was onward and outward!

Installing the box and conduit elbow proved to be pretty simple, with the only minor inconvenience being that I had to use longer screws with the wall anchors to get past the air gap behind the vinyl siding. The conduit elbow needed a bit of massaging with the heat gun to get it sitting just right but it wasn't difficult to do.

Since this spot is right up under the eaves there wasn't much hope of crawling out to the edge of the attic to pull the wire from the inside, but luckily the 12/2 romex was stiff enough that I could just shove it through from the outside and it ended up well within reach in the attic.

Up in the attic I started making another hole in the top of yet another wall. This had been a struggle with the spade bit and my trusty-but-rusty 12v drill, and the alternative of using the auger bit with my rotary hammer was stymied by the fact that my rotary hammer isn't cordless and there's no outlets in the attic, or even outside of the attic, within range of the extension cords I own. After struggling through a few inches of wood I decided that I needed to step up my cordless game and I bit the bullet and dragged myself back to the Home Despot to pick up a drill with a little more chooch. Interestingly the kit comes with two batteries as standard, and I hadn't even noticed that you actually get a free third battery as part of a promotion too which made it a pretty reasonable deal. I also picked up a regular (non-SDS+) auger bit and with their powers combined I made a hole.

This time, the fish tape came up the correct hole.

Also seen in this picture is a magnet on the end of a dowel that I lowered into the hole in hopes that it might help guide the fish tape. In the end I have no idea if it worked or not, but the job got done and that's all that matters.

From here things were a piece of cake, wiring up the switch and the motion light.

And a few hours later I verified that it was a job well done.

Monday, February 17, 2020

$50 Sandwich

It's Paso Robles time again, this time with Tyler in tow.

The weather was nothing short of perfect and the roads were almost completely empty. As usual the pavement wasn't the smoothest in the world but I'll take it.

Lunch was delightful, I had a bbq roast beef sammy and Tyler had a turkey club.

Unlike other years where I bailed to head back on 101 (booooring) or took a detour up 1 through Big Sur (so much traffic!), we instead headed back the same way we came, up 25. I think this is the preferable route.

We briefly met another group of bikers who were half way lost trying to find nacimiento fergusson road, and they seemed amazed that we would drive 3 hours to get lunch, just to turn around and drive 3 hours back. Personally I'd pity a person who wouldn't.

It's just so easy to forget that the rest of the world exists when riding on these roads.

Sunday, February 9, 2020


Rode around Lake Chatbot with Eevee this weekend to put some miles on my legs. It's been a while with how cold this winter has been.

I've actually been feeling a bit down about my fitness since the last ride I did up Kennedy and Montevina. Blowing up half way up Montevina and barely cranking it over to the top with an aching back kinda sucked the joy out of me for a bit. I was honestly starting to wonder if I had passed my peak and was just going to have to settle for the slow decline into old age.

But no, I still feel as good as ever. I mean, as good as I expect to feel after being off the bike for a few months and after putting in so few miles in 2019.

One other thing I discovered was that the little goodie bag I strapped to the downtube of Blackbirb does a great job of trapping dirt between it and the frame, which results in the frame getting scuffed. Luckily a quick polish took away most of the damage, and a layer of helicopter tape carefully applied will keep the problem from reoccurring.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Finishing Before I Start

I've got a small woodwork project underway, and I wanted to figure out a finish that would blend in with the rest of my furniture, which is mostly off-black. I'm still putting the project together but figured I'd slap some finish on a test piece to see how it might turn out.

The wood in the background is the Ikea drop-front desk I'm using as a rough target, and the piece on top is the wood I'm using for the project under one coat of ebony stain and three coats of water-based satin poly.


1: The base colour of the wood I'm using is a lot redder than whatever Ikea used in their furniture. Or maybe the ebony stain has some red tints in it that soak into the winter rings a bit more, idk. It's close enough that I don't really care.

2: One coat of stain isn't really as dark as I want it, so two coats will probably look better.

3: It's dumb-easy to blow through the finish while sanding before the final coat. 220 is probably not the right grit to have used, even though the package was sitting literally right there just when I needed a piece of sandpaper. I'll use 400 next time, even if that means going into the other room to get it. I guess. Anyway, that's why there's a few bald spots on this piece.

4: The water-based poly is pretty easy to apply but does require paying just a little bit of attention. It seems like if some areas are left a bit too thick it'll still dry nice and level without thick brush marks or drips, but the finish there will be noticeably more matte.

5: Probably some other stuff I'm forgetting. Maybe something about the finish not curing very well in the cold, humid garage overnight. I'm sure I'll remember later.

Anyway, I think this project should turn out pretty nice.

Better Living Through Chemistry

The grass coming up through the mulch in the front yard did not die forever over the summer as I had hoped in vain it might. With the return of the winter rains, it too sprang up once more to look ugly and unkempt. Pulling it up would take a lot of dirt and most of the mulch along with it, so instead I took a trip down to the Home Despot and picked up some roundup. Just sprayed on an application this morning as well as hitting some weeds here and there, and with any luck it should be able to knock down the grass for good. I hope. It'll probably need a few more applications before the problem is completely resolved.

Speaking of grass, I also spread a bit more seed on the back 40 since I wasn't really thrilled with the tiny amount that the spreader deposited. I sprinkled this by hand this time, concentrating on the most bald spots, and we'll see in a few weeks if that perks things up.

And on the subject of the back yard, I upgraded my air pistol with a steel breech kit and a red dot sight. It seems to be working pretty well as I managed to nail a squirrel with the first shot after I installed it. Of course the squirrel fell off the fence into the neighbour's yard (and a different neighbour this time, two down and three to go I guess).

Getting tempted to do another refi as rates are down again. Could save another ~$100/mo, or more likely spend $0/mo on another new motorcycle. Hmm!