Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Most of all, I like how young he is. He's obviously devoted to the political system, and I like the idea of giving a young Democrat his start. Lord knows Missouri needs more of them. What I don't like about him is that the bio on his web site is an image, instead of raw text, making it hard to copy and paste into other media.
And could there be a better choice to play me than Chiwetel Ejiofor?
Seriously, though, they had me at "David Mamet martial arts movie".
Goal Two: Be able to play with Chipmunk without hurting myself, have the energy and muscle capacity to do the lion's share of work around the house while Christie's recovering.
Goal Three: Have good habits established so when Chipmunk gets here, it's easy for Christie to start going back to the gym.
Extra Bonus Goal: Don't waste the money that we're already paying for the gym.
To Do: Go to the gym regularly.
Progress: I've gone 2-3 times each of the last three weeks, which is a lot better than zero, which is how often I was going. I sprained my foot about the time Christie got pregnant, so we simultaneously fell off the wagon. And this foot sprain has turned out to be a persistent bugger, so I couldn't do the treadmill, or the treadclimber, and I wasn't terribly excited about the bike. I tried the elliptical, and it left me hurting as well. At this rate, I was worried that my cardio was going to come from one of those things with the hand pedals you see the old guys on.
Then I remembered the rowing machine. I'd never used one because they looked, well, tricky. And there is a bit of technique involved, but nothing you can't learn in five minutes from Google. In terms of heart rate, I'm finding that the sky is pretty much the limit, once you condition your muscles. In fact, last night I kept going over my target zone. Conditioning the muscles is the hard part, actually. If you decide to take up the rowing machine, don't just jump on and do 30 minutes. Start with 5 minutes. That'll most likely be more than enough to leave you sore. Ramp up from there. It's taken me four workouts to finally get to the point where I can do 30 minutes.
Which muscles does it work? Pretty much all of them. But I'm sure some will stand out. My trapezius (upper back and shoulders) and lattisimus dorsi (lower back) hurt the most after a workout, but those are also the ones that hurt the most after a day of picking up and setting down babies and baby toys (or a day in the workshop, or doing yardwork), so I consider this a feature, not a bug. I want that core body strength in place before Chipmunk gets here.
As cool as rowing is, I want to caution you about some serious issues that can result from the incorrect use of a rowing machine. I don't know of any, but I'd really like to be able to say there were some, because most gyms only have a couple of machines, and I like knowing that I'm one of only a handful of people who will use it, which means I don't have to worry when the gym is crowded.
Our gym had two, but the first time both machines were occupied at once, a staffer came up with a third machine and rolled it into place next to us. Maybe I don't need to worry about not getting a machine. Maybe in a few years, all the recumbent bikes will be replaced with rowers. But maybe not. Can't be too careful.
Monday, April 28, 2008
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Upon dropping pachinko balls that roll across the floor: "Oh, man, more gravity."
On Time Travel:
Mike: I try to make things easy for Future Mike. Everything that Present Mike does is one less thing that Future Mike has to worry about.
Emily: I try to do that too, but Present Emily sometimes forgets.
Mike: That's why I have Future Mike as a backup. If Present Mike drops the ball, Future Mike can pick up the slack.
Kelyn, from the back seat: But what if somebody kills you?
Friday, April 25, 2008
And, yes, I keep pop-tarts in my desk drawer. What of it?
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Pennsylvania was her last chance to change that. Her support there was strong, the population is large, and they have a lot of delegates because they're a dependably Democratic state. But she needed to win by more than 200,000 votes to take the lead in the popular vote (if we change the rules and count Michigan and Florida) and by some unattainable margin to pull ahead in delegates. Basically, her only path to victory was to get ahead in the popular vote, and convince the superdelegates with a combination of narrative, spin, and vote counts that they ought to overrule the pledged delegates and nominate her.
She barely got the vote count she needed. The margin of victory (9.34% by my count) was nowhere close to what she needed, but not so low as to knock her out of the race. Basically, Pennsylvania didn't change the race, except for two things.
Thing One: There are no more really big states. Which means taking the lead isn't really an option. Obama is winning on points. To create a perception of momentum, Clinton needs a series of big victories, and polling indicates that's not going to happen.
Thing Two: She's broke. Yes, she's raised some new money off last night's victory, but her campaign is still millions in the red, while Obama has $40 million in the bank. That's going to be hard to overcome.
Because of Thing One, she's basically only got one path left to the nomination, which is through the superdelegates. She needs to convince them that Obama is incapable of winning the general election. The problem is that convincing the party elite to ignore the electorate and put her in the top spot will cause a lot of hurt feelings, and would cause enough dems to stay home in November to render her unelectable. So, basically, she needs Obama to self-destruct somehow, while she soldiers on, which Thing Two makes it very hard for her to do.
Regardless of the merits of her campaign or herself, I just don't see a path to victory for her here.
Update: Thing Two is apparently no longer true. She's raised a lot of money off her Pennsylvania victory, and is now in a position to keep contesting the nomination. Thing One still holds, but here's an interesting take on the long primary season and its benefits for Democratic datamining efforts.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
One thing I'm finding is that this is going to require a lot of tweaking in place. There's a reason why, on most construction sites, the guy who does the stairs is an expert. It's not that a framer can't build stairs, but it'd take a while. Similarly, this project is going to take more than a couple of days, I suspect.
I'll admit, I probably could have gotten more done if I wasn't committed to ending the weekend with a relatively clean workshop. The upside of having the workshop in the garage is ease of access and plenty of fresh air. The downside is that if I don't clean up after myself, Christie and I are tracking sawdust into the house for a week. Actually, that's sort of an upside. The basement workshop at the old house was out of the way enough that I could walk off and leave a project in mid-mess, and if you think a dank basement smells bad, you should smell a dank basement with a layer of sawdust on the floor. Ugh.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
I don't want to give up too much space on the stairs themselves, and I don't want to try to drill holes into the tops of all those treads. There's just too much potential to screw it up. So I'm going to attach the balusters to the outside edge, and I'm just making plain rectangular ones from 3/4 inch plywood. Will they flex too much? I hope not, but I won't know till they're in place. For the railing, I'm using a basic round railing, but I ran a dado the length of it to receive the balusters. I made it the depth of the plywood partly for the extra surface area (better glue adhesion) and also so I can use plywood strips to fill the spaces between the balusters.
I'm addressing my flex worries in a couple of different ways. The newel post will be attached to the bottom step with two lag screws, and screwed to the second step for good measure. And in the picture to the right, you can see where I've notched the top of the railing to attach it to the beam that runs along the edge of the staircase.
More tomorrow. I'm taking the rest of the night off. Between cleaning the workshop to get ready for this project and doing the work I've done so far, I'm beat. To quote an old Le Guin book, "Tired is stupid." If I try to do more tonight, I'm liable to screw something up.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
We're drawn to perfection like the ocean is drawn to the moon,
and no one blames the tide for falling short of the sky.
But I still think I'd catch a lot of grief from Christie if I did this with Chipmunk.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Friday, April 11, 2008
When I bought my first house, my parents showed up with a load of boxes from their basement (mostly stuff I'd stashed down there post-college), and my dad's old Craftsman tablesaw, which he'd recently replaced. I'm not sure if the tablesaw was older than me or not, but it must be close, because I can't remember a time when it wasn't down there in the basement.
A few weeks later, I was down in my own basement making some sawdust when the saw quit working. Luckily, my dad is the kind of guy who keeps the manual, so I dug into it. I ended up with the saw strung out in parts across the basement floor, as I took a voltmeter to it, bridging each gap, trying to figure out which link in the chain was broken. The problem turned out to be the power switch.
I turned, again, to the manual, and found an exploded diagram of the saw, and noted the part number for the switch. All I needed to do, I thought, was find out if Craftsman still made that switch. If they did, I was golden. If not, I was going to have to get creative.
Manual in hand, I headed upstairs to check the Craftsman website and see what I could see. Then I noticed that there was a 1-800 number printed underneath the diagram of the saw. What the heck, I thought, and dialed the number.
"Craftsman parts" said the cheerful voice on the other end of the line.
The switch cost $9, with shipping, and was in my hands in a couple of days.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
rabbet plane to rehab. So far I've flattened the sole (mostly but not all the way), sharpened the iron, and removed the bulk of the rust from most of the flat surfaces. There are a lot of surfaces still to clean up, and a couple of parts to replace (one screw broke during disassembly, and I believe the depth stop is missing), but it's already a working plane. I pulled out some old mulberry I've been playing with and the new plane worked it beautifully.
Two things I should mention about this plane:
First is that it is a rabbeting plane, which isn't something I need to use that often, but if you take off the fence and the depth stop (which is already missing), you have a shoulder plane, which I've been wishing I had for a variety of projects.
Second is a note to self that the depth gauge is part# 16704X and is included in Spares Kit 14 (Ref. No. 12-713), price $10. according to the Stanley Tool Parts Catalog. Man, I love old tool companies. And thanks to Howard Ruttan for advice on rehabbing old tools.
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
My personal take is that these things come in waves. The Art and Crafts movement was driven by reaction to the industrial revolution and a desire to return to personal craftsmanship. The maker movement is the same reaction, but to the information age.
Mary, I particularly think Rob might like these articles, as they get into the difference between engineering that happens entirely in the computer and engineering where you sometimes get your hands dirty..
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
with his father's attention,
and the highway.
He'd take a step toward the road,
look behind to see if
his father, packing the car,
had noticed. Then another.
The last I saw before my turn,
he was inches from the shoulder,
Monday, April 07, 2008
First off, the aforementioned tools are now (on the cutting edge, at least) shiny. And I'm starting to see the differences between the tools. The cheap, beat to hell chisel sharpened up very quickly, which makes me think it will dull up just as fast. The plane irons took a long time just to flatten the bevel. And, actually, there are significant sections of both plane irons that are still a bit rough, which is a sign of how far from flat they were when they were shipped from the factory.
On the other hand, they were extremely cheap, and they do seem to have been made of good steel. And, damn, are they sharp now. I'm going to have to remember to be careful about cleaning chips from the throat, as the cutting edge is definitely sharp enough to cut skin now (and, no, I didn't draw blood).
If you're not a tool geek, and are confused by terms like iron, throat, frog, sole, chipbreaker, etc., and you don't like being confused, Wikipedia's a pretty good reference on the anatomy of a plane.
All in all, I'm impressed with the system. While it takes a while to do the initial flattening, it would take even longer to do it on a stone, and because this is on glass, I know it's flat, while a sharpening stone becomes less flat the longer you use it. There are power tools that do the same job, but grinding wheels aren't good for this kind of sharpening, and this system is significantly cheaper than mechanical sharpeners that keep the blade cool (preserving its temper) and can handle multiple angle bevels.
Thursday, April 03, 2008
I was actually in college the first time I went to the pound, and I actually found it to be a profound lesson the limits of human goodness. I wanted to save every animal in there, but it simply wasn't possible.
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
These two are my favorites.