Following the house inspection…

…and the debacle with the first contractor, a second contractor came out and gave us almost the same quote plus a ballpark figure for the shell of the addition we want built.

Both of which came in affordable.

Which means that yesterday we said “yeah, we’ll offer 2.5k less than we said originally, and we’ll fix it”. Yes. We said “we’ll buy that” to a house which currently has at least one support beam you can apparently crush with your hand.

So that’s exciting.

Now in 3D!

So, I finally got to do some playing with the 3D printer I bought last year. It’s a Monoprice Select Mini 3D – a printer with a reputation for being incredibly cheap. Which it was; which is why I have it.

Anyhow, I had a plan to make a replacement quick release plate for the tripod I bought from goodwill. It’s a cheap not-quite-fluid-but-mimics-fluid-motion tripod. Which is fine, I just needed something fairly solid to stick the camera on. However, it – like seemingly nearly all the tripods at our local goodwill – was missing its quick release head. So I thought I’d give a bit of design and print a go.

What I ended up with is this. Which was an interesting learning experience. I kept having the sloped section at the end printing separately, which is how it ended up with this version where it overlaps a bit. I’ve now got a bit better, I think, at making stuff join together, so I’d fix that if I ever reprint it. If I was to reprint it, I’d make it about 1mm wider too, and possibly reinstate the sloped section that I did have at the opposite end from the current slope (which I chopped off for simplicity, but which would improve fit a little). I’d also make the recess for the bolt that acts as a camera screw a bit deeper.

Anyhow. Having eventually achieved success (I both got it to print AND it actually fits!), I then stepped up my game to produce a doohick to hold my tablet underneath the camera so it can act as a teleprompter. Now really, if I end up doing more videos then I should probably step it up to a proper teleprompter. But, for the moment I have this:



Irritatingly, my local hardware shop doesn’t have any long enough screws in either metric or imperial; and for once my dad’s box of a billion screws failed me (although I think in the sub-box of a thousand screws which is somewhere in one of the many boxes around the place, there probably is the screw I’m after). There are several refinements I should make to this, too. But I’m not really likely to.

But it’s here:

It should work okay, so long as I’m some distance from the camera. That way you can’t so obviously see I’m looking just below it.

Anyhow. I’m very much enjoying the 3D printing. Although I am the least efficient designer in the history of time. It took 2 printed iterations of the tablet holder for me to realise that the design is lacking a few things. Really it would also benefit from a spring to pull the two clamps together. And the version of the design I first printed was over complicated and one-clamp based, for reasons that currently escape me. The new version just has two copies of the same clamp. Much easier. Thankfully the one-clamp bit will work with the two-clamp design. So I didn’t have to reprint it.

Funnily enough, after months of failure, it seems dumping the printer in the corner of the cupboard where I can’t tweak the adjustment easily has proven to be the key. It seems to happily print away (although adhesion remains a problem. Justin suggested a different hairspray-as-adhesive a while back, so I shall give that a go at some point).

Anyway, yay. Yay for making things. Sorta.

Now I just need to find the wood for my chair project.

Really? A-f*cking-gain?

So, I don’t know what it is. Something about our luck. And I’m trying not to ascribe it to the whole of the US, because I know that’s unfair, but the crappyness of the buildings we’ve seen, and the utterly appaulling quality of renovations we’re seeing does make me wonder if this is a cultural thing. That just throwing up a building, then doing shoddy work on it for a while, until it falls down, that might be a thing? I don’t know.

And maybe it’s just that the all but one of the very oldest houses we’ve looked at here to buy are the same age as the newest houses I’ve worked on or looked at in the UK? I know new houses are f’kin shonky in the UK, so maybe it’s just that we’re looking at the equivalent of UK modern houses here? Whatever it is, it’s beginning to make me feel very fed up.

Maybe it’s just that we naturally attract shonky-ass crap houses.

So, the house inspection showed up that there had been water in the crawl space (void) under the house. He suggested that the slope of the ground around the house, and a failure to have a gap between the foundation and the grass was at fault. That run-off was pooling in the space. That had then encouraged wood-boring-animals into the wood, so some of the support pillars for the building would need replacing. He recommended getting a wood-boring knowledgable person in to identify what needed doing.

The pest guy identify a couple of pillars that he knew would need replacing, and the beetle treatment would not be terribly expensive. But he said we needed to sort out the water ingress problem. And he recommended getting a contractor in to check the pillars to identify which ones needed replacing.

Today we had possibly the worst matched contractor we’ve ever had quote on work come and quote for repair work because. He was also meant to be discussing ballpark figures for the addition (extension) that we want to do; but… that didn’t happen.

Anyhow, he says that the is of the opinion that there’s around 1′ of water sitting in the crawlspace through the winter, because of a “low water table”. I’m assuming he means “high water table”. Anyhow, that would require modifications to the foundations to enable the water to drain.

And that would not be cheap.

As this is the n’th house we’ve seen with some hideous problem that the owner really should have had fixed years ago. Like 39 years ago, when it was first f’kin built, I’m beginning to want to scream.

Also, being mansplained to for an hour, by someone completely unwilling to actually listen to what we wanted done, that didn’t really help my mood. But I’m going right off the idea of buying a house here*.

So yay.

* To be honest, the urge to flee has been around. But hey. It comes and goes.

A rest is as good as a rest.

This second week of my new work schedule – the low shift count week has been amazingly restorative. I’m feeling pretty much human and am trying to learn that I don’t need to do everything “today”. I have always felt this pressure that if I have a thing I want to do, that I need to get it done now. That if I’ve set aside some time to do something then that is when I need to do it. I’m trying to get into a different mindset and put that habit out of my life.

I’ve got some things I want to do, and very few of those things are that time-critical. I needed to make the pork pies I’ve decided to make, because I don’t want the meat to go off. But I don’t need to run around and try and get the wood for the chair I want to build – because there’s no rush on that.

I want to do a whole bunch of things, and hopefully I can get through doing some of them. People look at me weirdly when I say I’m happy working part time. But I don’t have this puritanical need to spend every waking second working for someone. I have plenty of things I want to do…

This week I’ve baked a cake, hopefully made two pork pies, actually designed and made things using the 3D printer (the missing mount from the top of the tripod, a clamp to go on the tripod and (theoretically) hold my tablet).


There’s something deeply enjoyable about sketching out a design in a 3D modeller, hitting print, and having a physical object that does what you want. Or, in this case, needs a small amount of modification to do what you want.. :)

But it’s really rather pleasant. An unexpected treat, let’s say. I thought I’d enjoy working with 3D modelling, but really had no idea how much I’d enjoy it. The answer is “quite a lot”, apparently.

I’ve also read Finding Pax which I picked up while we were on our weekend break up in Port Townsend. It was one of those noodling in bookshop pick-up a random book – oh, this is fascinating moments. I suppose it scratches the mystery/detective itch which I’m afflicted with in a curious way.

All in all, I’m starting to feel more like returning to society. Of course, society is trying to fuck itself up spectacularly, at least here in the US. So I’m not sure it’s ready for me.

Space to breathe

So, I’ve taken a few days off between old job and new(old) job. Sort of. I have done induction for the new(old) job but apart from 2 and a bit days of that I’ve relaxed, read, and taken some time to recuperate (mentally). I’m still struggling with the fact I’m not working 100% of the time.

I’m starting to feel better about it, and less often finding myself incredibly tense feeling like I should be working. I’ve actually read a book for pleasure (A Closed and Common Orbit – which I highly recommend. While I found A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet slightly in need of an editor, this book is way tighter).


I took the insight for a service at a local independent garage who are very nice. Unfortunately, it turns out their base service price is about twice that of the Honda dealer, which isn’t that much of a problem on a service, but makes me a bit wary of using them for other things on the Insight. That said, they are very nice, and unlike Honda they were happy to install the fumoto oil valve.

They also were happy to install the underbody panel…but they forgot. Which is irritating, mainly because it would have done sod-all to the service cost, but also because when I realized they’d not installed it I thought “oh well, I’ll do it when I get home, it’s a nice sunny day…”, which would have been fine except for the tiny fact that it turns out the insight can’t go up the ramps I’ve got.

Either of the pairs of them.

Because my ramps are designed for 1960/1970s European cars, which have nice high front bumpers, they have a fairly vicious slope on them. It turns out that you can’t even get them under the bumper on the insight.

Which leaves me unable to come up with a way of attaching the bloody thing other than taking it back to them (the nice, but not cheap, independent garage, because Honda won’t fit aftermarket parts), or buying a set of ramps specially for the insight. Although I think I might be able to get away with buying a chunk of timber to raise the car up an 5cm or so, before it hits the ramps. This is, of course, exactly the sort of thing I want (and don’t have) a garage for. I’m pretty certain I don’t have a workbench anymore, either, so cutting the timber has to be done by whichever shop I get it from. Which means planning ahead, and designing it without the thing I’m building in front of me. Something I’m notoriously terrible at, when it comes to quickie jobs like this one.

On the plus side, while they were expensive it’s much nicer spending the time kicking around town rather than hanging out in the Honda dealer (which is in the middle of the ‘auto-mall’). More expensive, but nicer. I had a nice tea in Burial Grounds, where my allergies decided to escalate to their usual ridiculous insanity – upsetting as I’d forgotten tissues (mainly because they’d been better for a few days). Then I spent an inordinate amount of time in Rainy Day, partly because my ex-students gave me a gift voucher (with which I bought both the Marika Hackman album, I’m Not Your Man (sadly not the Loser edition with its pretty coloured vinyl) and a used Bix Beiderbeck album).

Their plan worked, though. Rainy Day’s that is; I don’t think the students were in on this.

While I was in Rainy Day the woman running the shop put on a fantastic compilation of 1960’s Asian ‘garage girl groups’*. It’s part of a re-issue of a 1980’s series of compilation albums of 1960’s ‘garage girl groups’*. This has a dreadfully ‘of its time’ title (by which I mean it’s racist), so I won’t grace the page with the title. However, it’s an awesome compilation, and being a re-issue I’m willing to sort of let the title (and the title art on on the album) slide. Instead I’ll just share that it’s Volume 9 in the “Girls in the Garage” series.

Anyhow, having concluded that I’d broadly spent enough money on toys I meandered to the New Moon Café for lunch, then out to find a shady spot to finish reading Nasty Women. Which was fascinating, and interesting, and depressing, and uplifting. It makes me want to write, which I really should try and do, given that I’ve got about 1/3rd to 1/2 of a book sat unfinished.

*I have issues with this term, although I <em>suppose</em> I could equate it to boy-bands? Any moment when grown women are referred to as “girls” I find wrong.

Dreamwidth Posty

So I used to be on LJ. I shall not be updating the LJ account anymore… I’ve finally got around to tweaking the crossposting to crosspost to Dreamwidth (and tumblr).

End announcement.

Danger, Will Robinson!

Danger, Will Robinson!

I have fallen into the dangerous territory of the mechanical keyboard. See, many years ago I had a rather nice IBM keyboard which died. I can’t remember how it died. It probably got run over by a steamroller, or somesuch (I think it got knocked off a desk and landed key side down on the prongy-footy-bit of a wheelie chair).

At any rate, I loved it, but eventually it made my poor hands hurt when I was doing technical writing. Also, I tried taking it to my office and had to bring it home to prevent my summary execution for the clickety-clackety-noise of it distressing and distracting my colleagues. Anyhow, so first I discovered tenkeyless keyboards, which are nice. Especially if you have a dinky little numpad to go with it that can float off and be moved around as needed.


Then I discovered pretty keycaps.

And while I knew that mechanical keyboards were “a thing”, I’d not really realised the extent of “the thing” that they are. And I can feel myself being sucked into it. Mainly because I thought “oh hey, wouldn’t it be fun* to build my keyboard myself”. Why I thought this is probably related to my dad, who had to build every damn bit of the computer himself, and made a rather fine hardboard cased lilac coloured keyboard. And I am always rather sad that I got rid of that in one of the tidies. I mean, it wasn’t useful or anything, because it was a terminal keyboard for a terminal he built, which I no longer have either.

But I rather liked it.

And then I saw the T0mb3ry SA Carbon keycap set. And I spent far too much money on it. Which is silly, and I couldn’t work out why I liked it so much.

Then it came to me. It reminds me of the old CTL / ITL keyboards my dad used to bring home (scrap ones). I was aware that it kinda reminded me of early 80’s computers, but it’s that whole orange/black bone/black combo that makes me think of the Modular One system. I’m not sure if those keyboards came from Modular Ones, or if they were from some other CTL / ITL machine.

So that explains that.

So anyhow, I’ve ordered the keycaps, because I’m weak and they’re pretty, and I’ve also started to nose around for a mechanical key tester (one with a USB connector so that they can actually serve a purpose as a num pad later), and then I’ll need to work out if I really want to fork out the cash for a keyboard kit, or whether just buying a keyboard and slapping the keycaps on will do me.


Car, house, life.

So, I made a spreadsheet. I can’t be bothered to deal with the fun and games of raw HTML editing at 10pm on a Saturday night so you just get a picture of it.

Really it’s a “pro-con” list. We’re thinking about whether we can afford a used EV replacement for our hybrid.  And this is how it’s looking. Realistically, because we want to be able to visit Nikki / Kate / Fam down in Oregon, we need something with DC rapid charge, or the range to get there without charging.

Spreadsheet of car costs/actual prices / ranges Pro-con.

Of course, this is entirely theoretical. Basically, because I’m changing job and have my ‘summer pay’ saved, I’m contemplating whether that, plus the sale of the car, might mean we can pull together enough to make the switch possible.

Sadly, having looked at charger locations, we think a 24kW Leaf isn’t going to do it. It would mean that we would essentially have to stop in Castle Rock on the way to see friends, and given the number of Trump signs, and the shitty shitty greeting our friends got in a café there, we think that’s not somewhere we want to spend ages if we don’t have to.

Also, a 24kW Leaf would mean we have no extra leeway should a charger be down. With the Soul EV or a newer 30kW Leaf then we’d actually be able to make it to one of the other chargers, if we were gentle.

Whether it’ll happen or not depends on a few things – one of which is whether we’re going to manage to sort out the house, and how much it might cost. The house we were looking at and super positive about fell through. The owner had no interest in replacing the End-Of-Life and believed-to-be structurally unsound roof, unless we paid half. And then we discovered the termite issue. 9 years without treatment, then they found termites…

…so, does it have a wall? Or does it have a sheet of plasterboard on some ornamental lace-trim woodwork?

Who can say?

Certainly not us, it turns out, without ripping apart the walls. Which would have been a whole other debate, but since the roof debate didn’t seem to be moving in our favour, we abandoned ship.

So we’re on the hunt again, and looked at three entirely terrible houses today.

  • Terrible house the first seems to be attempting to make good its escape by slipping quietly down the hill. Bonus points to this one for having a building (shed) so shonkily supported that I declined to even attempt to look in it for fear that it might fall several feet down into the ravine.
  • Terrible house the second actually could be quite cool. It’s an ex-creamery, but in the 1980s it had what I would call an extremely shoddy residential conversion. The carpet appears to have been laid directly onto concrete floor making the building so damp you could actually see the rising damp watermark on some of the doors. It still has the fridge door and a great delivery space that could be amazing. Indeed, I was trying to convince myself that we could do something cool with it when we noticed the dirty great cracks in the wall and around the roof. Structural failure makes it beyond us, sadly. Also, loud, loud road.
  • Terrible house the third was a 1940s rambler that’s been rented to someone who appears to have been morally opposed to cleaning. Ignoring that, and the fact it broadly needs gutting, and a garage reinstating where there’s a room with a giant fireplace….and the washer/drier… oh, and the chimney reopening and providing with at least some ventilation (because it’s got mould appearing on the wall where it’s just panelled in)…and the fact that the roof looked shonky as all hell… ignoring all that…oh, and the crappy electrical panel… ignoring all that – it had black mould on two of the walls in the bedroom. The realtor tried to persuade us it just needed some abatement. Personally, I think a match and some petrol should sort all the building’s problems

So, that wasn’t exactly a raging success.

On the life front, I can now formally state I’m going back to the Emergency Department. Teaching this year led me to a place I don’t particularly wish to return to, of stress, feeling bleak, and feeling like I wasn’t able to serve the students. Rather than subject myself to another year of that I applied to my old place of work and they kindly gave me a job.

I’m hoping that I’ll get to return to doing some stuff with Transport Evolved, too, which would be cool.

In other, other news, my Macbook seems to be intent on dying. It’s taken to randomly switching itself off for no obvious reason (obviously, it’s decided to start doing this immediately after I bought it a new charger). I’ve put myself on the list for a Pinebook, which is certainly not meant to be a proper laptop replacement, but… the plan is to have an actual functional desktop (for video editing, if required…) and so hopefully this will just be my dinking box. Also, with luck, if I need something more beefy, for the time being I can run it on the media server.

Anyhow, hopefully my 9 year old Macbook will hang on a bit longer.

And that, my loves, is the news.

Well, that lasted a long time

So that last post may have been premature. We knew that there were potential problems with the house because of the structural / roof issues; what didn’t occur to us (until Kathryn talked to our mortgage broker today) is that me changing job would be a huge-ass problem.

Apparently, because I’m changing job, if I have a probationary period (which I do) they won’t lend to us until that’s over. So I’m going to call my new workplace tomorrow and beg/plead/politely request that they consider nixing the probationary period (I worked there before for 6 months, so I’m hoping they’ll consider this).

Otherwise, well, we’ll put the problem to our realtor – but actually we found out more stuff about the cost of putting a roof on that we’re willing to consider – and that may be enough of a crimp that we decide against it. But then there’s the joy of the fact that we can’t then look for a house until the end of the summer.

So, well, let’s see how this goes tomorrow.

Given how the past year and half has gone, I’m not feeling vastly optimistic.