Bits, bobs and interior froof.

We’re continuing to try and work towards a more finished home, although it turns out that the stay-at-home order allows only for “essential” building work, nothing more. Obviously, that isn’t a problem for stuff we have in stock already. We can entertain ourselves as much as we like with the stuff we’ve got stored. It’s more of a problem for stuff we don’t have already – we aren’t allowed to order things like “deck boards”… Which makes some things we’d planned a little more tricky.

So. That being said we’ve continued with various other things that we have in stock, and some stuff we can mail-order, which is allowable. Unfortunately, there’s a bunch of jobs where I have managed to get half of the stuff required for any particular job. For example, I thought I had a router bit in that would suit my complex plan to make the trim for the windows and doors*, but I don’t. So although I have some trim oiled and ready to go, I don’t have the relevant tools to make it fit. Thankfully that’s at least small enough that when I’ve got around to checking what size bits our router takes, I can order it online.

But, that being said, we’ve still got several things done.

The gates for the south of the house, between the garage and the house, are built and up and functional.

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You can really see the missing exterior trim on that picture, because we adjusted for the unsquareness of (most likely) the house and/or the panels in one big step that will be covered by trim boards. Irritatingly, I was two-boards short for my planned design, and obviously, I can’t get those until… May… at the earliest. Hence the half-arsed chunk that stops the gate flapping past the other gate, and the missing section on the left-hand gate at the bottom.

We also made the bookshelves for the sections above the door in the office and the bedroom. These were birch rather than beech, which we’ve decided was an error, but they’re well out of the way and will probably be so full as to be barely visible, so we’ve decided to ignore that problem.

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And so it’s turning out, actually. Some decisions we made we’re not 100% convinced about. For example, our wall lights we have concluded are somewhat higher than we would ideally like (unfixable), and actually, we’re not convinced they go with the shades/height of the ceiling lights (fixable).

We have finally got the wall lights up, and it looks like we’ve managed to overcome the inch-and-a-bit drop in the floor towards the centre of the house with Kathryn’s clever concept.

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The middle piece (the one with the large off-centre hole) allows us to adjust the position of the outer piece on the wall to provide a consistent space between the picture-rail and the light…

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Which has allowed us to cover for the unsquareness. And actually, we’re really pleased with how they have come out – especially considering how cheap the lights were. We’re thinking though, that a simple white glass shade would actually work better than the industrial/enamel shades. Also something higher up. The enamel shades were chosen to tie the two ends of the room together, but it feels a bit of a clash between industrial and a sort of modern-trad look. Too busy.

Meh.

Sometimes you try something and it doesn’t work. The thing to remember in that situation is that you’re learning (not always easy to remember).

I’ve also moved the media server to the attic, which is pleasing. Less pleasing is the fact that I can’t find the 10-pack of Ethernet connectors, so I’m left with things hanging out of the wall. Bleh.

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And I’ve been doing a little bit of tidying in the garden. I’ve mainly been just doing maintenance (strimming, mowing, weeding). But I’ve also slowly been filling in the trench with the pipe that carries water to the soak-away. That allows us to clear what will be the only veg bed that we’re planning to put in the ground (with a little bit of raising so we can put some decent topsoil on it). That will have to be prepared fairly soon because we’ve got some cabbages and tomatoes that will need to go out when it gets warm enough.

* Unfortunately, our walls, because of our non-standard wall coating, are not a standard thickness. Which means that we will need to make some L-shaped trim which will allow… oh, look, this would be easier with a diagram:

Diagram of trim / wall structure.
The lime plaster here is shown way too thick (as is the L-ness), it’s usually less than 1/8″…

This is also true on the windows which ended somewhat recessed. Now the alternative is to get more expensive, thicker wood to replace the existing trim, plane it down (or run it through the thicknesser), and similarly, for the door jambs, buy a wider piece and shave it down with a plane to the right width, but that is upsetting because it’s (a) much more expensive, (b) wastes the existing wood trim which we paid for, (c) would end up with us having to saw/plane off nearly 1/2″ of wood, and (d) would be almost equally hard to get right.

More wood, more plants, just more.

So, the stay-at-home / shelter-in-place / passive-aggressive-stop-going-the-fuck-out order is now in place. People were asked nicely to not congregate and to keep space to avoid spreading COVID-19, and in the PNW some did, some didn’t.

Thanks to the some-didn’t, we’re now under a more aggressive, but still less than many Asian countries approach of ‘stop spreading this shit’ by requiring people to stay at home. Of course, unlike much of Europe the US has effectively no social safety net*. Now there are some rather hastily created worker protections appearing, dragging the US’s social system into something less awful. But of course, idiot boy wants to end social distancing because the economy is tanking.

The fact that ending social distancing will lead to a mass-casualty-catastrophe, to the US probably being forcibly isolated by most of the rest of the world, and to the economy in the US tanking all the same as half the work force go off sick with COVID-19, the other half hiding because they don’t want to get it, so they won’t be out buying anything doesn’t seem to factor in. But that would involve thinking, something which our current president seems pretty keen to avoid.

Having an sociopathic idiot racist in charge of the US when there wasn’t a massive crisis (other than the ones he generated) seemed bad enough, but having someone who doesn’t understand primary school mathematics trying to understand exponential growth and complex things like “flattening the curve”. Fuck. All we can do is try and protect ourselves and hope that there’s no easy way for Mango Mussolini to override our state’s stay-at-home order. It’s weird to be on the left and championing state’s rights!

Anyhow, Kathryn is now at home working, which is the major change. And I’m trying to get stuff delivered rather than me rocking up to home depot. Interestingly, the lumber processor who’s making our trim wood is considered an essential service, so they’re still open. So we’ll be getting some trim delivered next week. Which should mean that we can start trimming the doorways to the bedrooms and a few other places. We’ve also ordered (some of) our (interior) doors. They’re special order, though, so we’re looking at over a month until they’re delivered.

Which is handy because we’ll have to run down to Oregon to get them.

On Friday I knocked up a credenza**, or perhaps a media stand. The theory with this was that it could be cut from a single sheet of plywood, which it clearly can, because that’s what I did. The more complex bit of the theory was that I could prototype it, then if we liked it we could send off the design to Edensaw, or some other CNC mill place, they could cut it from nicer ply, and we could have a nicer version.

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Unfortunately, my design calls for square cut outs, which are easy to do on a CNC cutter, and more tricky to do in the back garden without digging out the files. I hoped to get away with it, but the wedges don’t fit well enough, so the solution we came up with was to order some dowels. Which… will be here eventually.

….until then, we’ve propped up the media stand with the media that will one day occupy it.

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Ironically, our house is finally getting near to a point where we’d be willing to have guests visit…

Annyhow. We have also been putting up picture rails, slowly, so have pictures hanging. Which is not the quickest process, but definitely is rewarding and makes it feel even more home-y.

We’ve also been working on installing our kitchen task lighting. They’re both in now and have actually been much more used than I expected. Not just when prepping food in the evenings, but also in the mornings, they cast a much softer light which is very pleasant and much more managable to wake up to.

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We’re still working on our lounge wall lights. The laser cutter has definitely made it much more easily feasible for us to ‘print’ the bits we need, but I want to make a couple of minor tweaks to the design before the final print run for them all.

And, yesterday we finally cut the wood for our built in bookshelves that live in the bedrooms and sneakily steal some attic space. One of them is glued and assembled, and just needs a little sanding off of some excess glue, an application of some oilwax and then when it’s dry it can go in. The other one is all cut and ready to assemble, but it got late, and today it’s rained all day. Assembling that is definitely an outside-or-garage job, and since the garage remains packed to the gunnels with stuff, it’s an outside job.

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It mayn’t look like much, but it’s exciting to finally see the attic spaces becoming closed off from the rest of the house. Currently they’re just closed off with boxes. I’m also happy because we took the time to run some channels for glass in there, so we should be able to drop some sliding glass doors in, which should keep the dust out.

Today I put the door jamb in on our office, which means all the big door jambs are done, and also having done the main attic one, that means that the only jamb I can currently attack is the small attic one. All the others have to wait for the doors to be in.

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We have the wood for both attic doors, and on my shopping list for delivery are the hinges for them, and the magnets so they can close. So… it continues to progress, despite the weather not being in our favour for outside stuff.

Oh, but! Outside.

We have filled one of the raised beds I knocked up last week, and put a bunch of starts in there. The other bed is still…uh, somewhat less soily than might be ideal. It’s always cool to know that we’re growing stuff we’ll eat.

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We’ve also ordered some more seeds for things that we’d not got around to ordering yet, and popped some tomato and cabbage seeds in to get them going :)

* This reveals a staggering lack of knowledge, but I’ve no idea how most Asian countries handle their social safety net.

** Despite having no servants to taste our food and confirm a lack of poisons for us.

I wrote a thing for facebook

I often try and stay off facebook, and I definitely stay away from talking about health topics, but I know some people I’m friends with (particularly on here) will trust that the US president will give them good advice on managing the current crisis. For your protection: He won’t.

He’s concerned about numbers. The numbers are starting to look bad. Not the number of deaths, or the numbers in hospital. We’re not at the point where those things are near as bad as they will be yet. No, for him, it’s worrying that the economic numbers are bad (https://qz.com/1823251/coronavirus-could-leave-30-percent-of-us-workers-jobless-fed-pres-says/). And we know from history that bad economic numbers are bad for re-election. That worries him, and I think it honestly worries him more than the numbers of people who experts say will become sick or die because of inaction. It’s likely he’s going to say “meh” to social distancing soon (https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-signals-growing-weariness-with-social-distancing-and-other-steps-advocated-by-health-officials/2020/03/23/0920ea0a-6cfc-11ea-a3ec-70d7479d83f0_story.html). Why should you ignore that and try your best to keep social distancing? Why am I going to be standing at least 3, and ideally 6 feet away from all of y’all?

First, a bit of a rant, feel free to skip on down. But I feel this is important to understand why we’re in the situation we’re in.

Back in 2012 and 2015 (yes, under Obama), there were warnings that a pandemic was an increasing risk in the globalised modern world. Obama, in response to criticisms of the Ebola response, created the Pandemic Response Team (https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2020/03/18/coronavirus-did-president-trumps-decision-disband-global-pandemic-office-hinder-response/5064881002/).

Then in 2016 – Trump’s transition team was briefed on the probability of a pandemic and that the US was underprepared for it: https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2020/03/pandemic-coronavirus-united-states-trump-cdc/608215/).

Handily, at that point, the US had a pandemic response team – so there could be planning around how to manage a pandemic and a unified response to it. The US no longer has a pandemic response team, instead we have Mike Pence, who’s record on managing public health risks is terrible (https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/03/02/how-mike-pence-made-indianas-hiv-outbreak-worse-118648, https://www.bmj.com/content/350/bmj.h1708.short). What happened to the pandemic response team? Trump and his team disbanded it. He may claim now that he knows nothing about it, but despite his protestations, he himself sung the praises of dissolving the pandemic response team back in 2018. He may not remember, but video does: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/coronavirus-video-trump-pandemic-team-cut-2018-a9405191.html. That means that we’re without the people who would have spent years prepping for this and who could give us a carefully planned response.

Okay, so – we (the US) knew it was likely to happen, then we got rid of the people who could have told us what to do.

But that was all in the past, people keep saying to me that he’s doing a good job now.

Well… no.

As international concern grew, as it became clear from China and Europe that this would be a major pandemic. Instead of leaping into action, Trump wasted precious weeks on claiming it wasn’t a problem (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NezEbDx4B9A). At the same time, both GOP members of congress as well as a Democrat (no one’s hands are clean here), having access to briefings about how bad it was going to be, decided to sell their shares (https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/488593-four-senators-sold-stocks-before-coronavirus-threat-crashed-market). You know it’s bad when the well off start moving money out of markets.

Then the government in the US decided that everyone else’s testing kits weren’t good enough and decided to develop their own (https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/what-went-wrong-with-coronavirus-testing-in-the-us). Which is why we don’t have enough kits to test everyone, and it takes days to get a test resulted here, and in South Korea they’ve just developed a 10 minute test.

Why should we be testing everyone? Surely we only need to know for sick people?

For me, as a healthcare provider, dealing with an individual patient, yes, that’s broadly true. I need to know whether Bob, who’s sick and coughing, has COVID-19, because I need to protect other patients, and I need to protect myself to avoid catching or spreading it to my other patients. And the precautions I’ll take are different for different diseases. Of course, because the testing in the US takes days to come back, I won’t know until long after Bob has gone to the ward, or ICU, or has gone home and I’ve been at work for days more.

But, while it matters even in the healthcare environment that we test others – because this disease has a median incubation period of 5 days (but up to 11.5 commonly, and over 14 is a possibility: https://annals.org/aim/fullarticle/2762808/incubation-period-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19-from-publicly-reported) so I will have worked my full set of shifts, and may even have come back to work a week later, and still not know I’m sick. 

It matters much more in general, because in the US, there are very strict criteria for who can be tested for COVID-19 (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/clinical-criteria.html) so we’re missing a lot of cases (https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/03/23/coronavirus-count-confirmed-testing/). We can’t identify hotspots, and isolate those people. We can’t look for patterns to try to control it. Instead we’re stumbling blindly and effectively having to try and isolate everyone. 

In Iceland and South Korea, they’ve basically been testing everyone and their dog. (https://www.government.is/diplomatic-missions/embassy-article/2020/03/15/Large-scale-testing-of-general-population-in-Iceland-underway/) And what they’ve found is that there are massive numbers of people with little to no symptoms who are not just carrying the disease, but are spreading it (https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/sites/default/files/documents/RRA-sixth-update-Outbreak-of-novel-coronavirus-disease-2019-COVID-19.pdf). So, in the absence of testing, distancing for everyone is the safest response. 

This disease is way more infectious than flu. Every person with flu infects roughly 1.4 people; every person with COVID-19 infects roughly 3 people. Doesn’t sound like much, right? But humans are curiously bad at maths and stats. So… https://twitter.com/C4Dispatches/status/1241803403619172359

Other countries didn’t get as much time or warning about this. We squandered the time we could have been training temporary technicians to at least help manage ventilated patients, and we could have helped nurses, techs and doctors who don’t regularly manage ventilators update their skills and knowledge. We lost the time we could have got factories churning out basic cheap ventilators, PPE, and could have had lots of time with social distancing to slow the impact.

We have two tools left in our armory. Hand washing / good hygiene practices and…. Social distancing.

Why does that help? https://covidactnow.org/

I know it’s tough, as an introvert who lives with a wonderful partner, I’m lucky. I like spending all my time with Kathryn. Many people aren’t so lucky. Some are in the hell of living with abusive partners, some have mental health challenges that will make this time especially hard, and for many it’s just tough. 

I can’t offer a great deal for that other than my sympathy, but the advice in this show was pretty good. https://www.npr.org/2020/03/19/818432205/special-episode-a-social-distancing-survival-guide

But it’s important. And with any luck it’s going to feel like it’s not worthwhile. Dr Landon explained this the best I’ve seen:

https://www.uchicagomedicine.org/forefront/coronavirus-disease-covid-19/emily-landon-speaks-about-covid-19-at-illinois-governors-press-conference

And now I’m going to go back to my regularly scheduled silence because I think facebook is the spawn of satan, interspersed with the odd photo of our house to keep friends updated on the fact that we still do a hell of a lot of DIY.

PS: If you’ve hoarded N-95s, please donate your N-95’s to your local hospital / EMS service so we don’t end up doing this: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/12/6/05-1468_article#tnF1

PPS: If you’ve hoarded toilet paper:

https://ruinmyweek.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/coronavirus-toilet-paper-15.png

Learning Opportunities II

When we put up the picture rail yesterday, we discovered that… the middle of our hourse is about an inch lower than the edge of the house. We knew there was a slope issue, particularly around the front door, but how bad it really was… well that keeps being incrementally revealed to us.

We know this now because the newly erected picture rail runs dead level, which means that the lights that sit below it are… well, at different heights. Because they were measured off the floor.

While they’re both approximately 7′ from the floor*, they differ in height from the picture rail by over an inch.

Which is a problem.

Kathryn has thought of a solution – since we’re replacing the backer on the lights anyhow, but it makes me glad that I didn’t get further with making the replacement backers for the lights and fixing them to the wall.

* Within about half an inch, which is about the tolerance on the flappy plastic light outlets we used. Irritatingly, they get pushed by the drywall as you’re putting the drywall up. So when you’re making the hole for them in the sheet of drywall that’s where they sit forever. But because they’re just held by two small clamps on a long strip of metal that big heavy chunk of drywall can make the metal bar and the clips flex somewhat.

Learning opportunities

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So, my whinyness about fault finding notwithstanding, I set to on trying to fix the kitchen lights. I found the circuit diagram and checked the switch I suspected might be wired incorrectly. It was, and would have meant that the switch didn’t function as expected, but it wasn’t causing the problem. Then I ended up pulling out the switches from all the multiway switches that power the kitchen lights. Each of those checked out okay.

I gave in to paranoia and switched the breaker with one of the other breakers… that didn’t seem to be it.

That evening I finally got up on the ladder and we took the cover off one of the kitchen lights, I remade the neutral connection while I was up there. And then the fault was finally revealed.

The lights above the hall are yet to be installed…

…and while I was up on the ladder I remembered that they were on the same circuit as the kitchen lights.

…and I checked with my best beloved who agreed that yes, they were on the same circuit…

…and there, above the hall was the problem. Juussst touching, the neutral and the US-pretend-ground-wire-that’s-actually-neutral.

How this ended up with a 0.5v voltage with the light switch off, and still reporting an infinite resistance, I don’t know. But it did. And separating the two ends and capping them off fixed it.

I must admit I felt quite silly.

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In other news, our large greywater tank is now attached to a tap, and both sides of the guttering drain into it, which is pleasing. I also took the opportunity to cut the holly back to the ground, nasty invasive that it is. I’d hoped to dig it up with the minidigger when we had it, but failed to get that far.

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That is 1000litres, potentially, of rainwater capture. So that should be good come the summer, and is nice now as we start planting.

I spent most of last week oil/wax-ing wood which will be door jambs, and I’ve spent much of the past few weeks gently chasing the guy who’s meant to be giving us a quote for doors. I’ve also been using our new lasercutter to chop up bits of wood – I’ve made some backer/spacers for the lights for the lounge wall, and we’ve made some backers for the kitchen and reading nook task lighting. Those have also been oil/waxed, so should be good to go up tomorrow.

COVID-19 / SARS-nCoV or not, I’ve got to go and get our prescriptions tomorrow. We’re also running out of toilet paper – because we did not indulge in panic buying. So… ideally, I would like to find a pack of that. I also, because of work, would quite like to grab a couple of sets of scrubs and some extra sweaters which can be hot-washed to death as I’m trying to wash my uniforms as soon as I get home now.

Meh.

Today has been less than positive

Let’s set aside the fact that we get to chose between two old white men, people who’ve had more than enough time to fuck up the country; when we could have had a staggeringly well prepared, intelligent, friendly and insightful woman who actually knew what the fuck she was talking about AND had f’king plans to actually implement them (Elizabeth Warren) instead of just repeatedly saying what they wanted, with no costings, nor any actual plan to make them happen. Then we get to pit old white man against racist bigoted idiot child trump.

Let’s set aside that because she’s a woman she got alternately ignored or slighted by the press. Let’s just put that aside. And as a result let’s put aside my worries that many people will lack the enthusiasm for Biden, or lack the desire for avowed socialist Sanders, and we’ll end up with the defacto installation of a trump dictatorship. Let’s put aside the enormous harm that will do to the country, to the world, and the number of people who will die unnecessarily as a result.

Let’s put that all out of the way, because frankly I can’t bear thinking about it right now.

Let’s instead concentrate on the day at a more personal level.

But in doing that, let us also put away the frustration of multiple runs to town because I forgot stuff, then the stuff I bought didn’t work.

Let’s also put aside my failures with caulk, which are many and manifold, and which have left us with this monstrosity:

I f*ckin' hate caulk.

Yesterday I stripped the light that will be our dining table light down to its constituent parts, and prepped them for painting:

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So today I set to and put a couple of coats of paint on them:

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They may well need more – getting the paint onto all sides is tricky, especially when it’s both windy and threatening to rain. But this paint is extremely odorous and spraying in the garage was simply not going to happen.

We also put up the final light in the office (yay!) having resprayed the dismal object that arrived. It looks okay, largely because it’s far away. Some things are good quality, and some things are a sufficient distance not to be able to tell the quality.

We also got our super-industrial kitchen lights up:

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Which would be a cause for much celebration if they worked. But they don’t. There’s a curious 0.2v phantom voltage across the live and neutral even when off, and 0.1v between neutral / live and pretend-ground (mutter, grumble). I don’t know where it’s come from, it seems too low to be munged insulation, and is way too low to be a short. At any rate, as soon as you turn the lights on the breaker trips.

So that’s a fun task for the weekend. Trying to fault-find wiring. Yay. I’m hoping that – as someone on the internet suggested – tiny phantom loads can be due to a poorly tightened screw, apparently, on the breakers. I’m not deeply hopeful and am suspecting I get to take a lot of light switch covers off, and then try and work out what’s going on with the switches and check all that gubbins over.

Like I said, it’s not been a good day.

In / Set me a challenge

There’s an amazing feeling about living in a space you’ve made. It’s funny, we’ve lived in places we’ve worked on before, and yes, technically we didn’t build this house. It is, technically, a renovation.

But there’s not much of the original left. Even what you see in this photo didn’t all survive:

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So I feel like I have intimate knowledge of this building. Between us we’ve laid hands on nearly every stud, if not every stud. We’ve fixed, tweaked, repaired, replaced, renewed this building.

And it’s weird. There’s this incredible satisfaction which I can’t really describe. This munging together of pride, exhuberance, enthusiasm, and at times fear. On the one hand, whenever I wake up and look at the ceiling I know that we built it.

I look at walls and know that every inch of that is our work. Yes, we had people help and indeed the final finish on the walls is not ours. It’s definitely more skilled work than we could do with lime. But it’s still a thin skin over our building work.

And I’m proud of what we built. Of its compromises and quirks.

Of course, the fear is whenever something doesn’t work or there’s an odd sound, I’m hit by the pounding “Oh god, what did I/we do wrong?” There was a massive hail/rainstorm a week or so ago, and we were both jolted from sleep by a massive downpour. And my first thought was “oh holy fuck, what’s gone wrong?”


So we’ve been doing some progressy things – we cleared the attic (a big job), took a bunch of stuff to Habitat for Humanity, we bought furniture and assembled it, and much of the kitchen is in. The dishwasher does, actually, fit. Incredibly. There’s just one cabinet to go in and we’ll be done on the installation of cabinets.

So that’s all good.

We do need to come up with a solution for a worktop (they are insanely expensive). And there’s a massive list of things to do.

But one of the highest priority items is also proving to be impossible. Or at least quite challenging. The stuff we’ve chosen to use for the wood finish is called “AFMSafecoat Oil Wax”. It’s lovely. However, despite being Low VOC it still stinks, so we really want to use it outside. Which is all very well, except the current weather forecast is wet +/- a peak of about 7 degrees C.

It can’t be applied below about 20 degrees C.

Now the online version of the specs says below about 15C and I figured I could probably throw enough heat at the garage, despite the vents, to get at least a small zone of it up to a high enough temperature. But… no, even that’s not happening.

Again, we’re bitten by the fact that what we really want to do is have power and light in the garage, and the cheapest way to do that as a DIYer is to throw the boxes in the wall – saving on miles and miles of conduit and fittings (and also it reduces the amount of plastic we’re throwing into the world). So because of that we didn’t put insulation or drywall in the garage. And because of that, we can’t heat it, even with throwing a fan heater in there. Why not? Well, it’s got a huge roof vent running the entire length of the roof.

My original thought was that the main problem would be that the garage is full of shit. Mainly it’s full of the wood that will be the battens on the house. That is occupying a good 1/2 of the floorspace that was dedicated for storage of equipment (table saw, shelves), and that means that I can’t get those things out of the way, so they’re now occupying floorspace that was meant to be working area. Also, because of the enormous pile of rocks outside the garage, Rebecca is parked diagaonally across the garage making working around her difficult. But I’d worked out a resolution of sorts to that problem.

But this whole ‘needs to be at 20 degrees’ thing is a big challenge. My friend’s workshop isn’t heated like that, I can’t think of a space I could use as a workshop that is. So we need a bit of a mull on that one.


I’ve been working on the lighting. We are missing the two kitchen lights because they needed complete renovation. I spent the last few days working on them – using a tap/die set to recut the threads that had been lost when the wire supports broke, which it turns out was not because I’m a numpty, but because they were rusted solid.

I then spent a day wire brushing them and getting them prepped for spraying, then giving them a coat of grey paint.

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And finally reassembling them. Then it slowly dawned on me that I didn’t actually have all the bits I’d need. As we had it, the bulbs would hang…right in the centre of what used to be the vents for allowing hot air to escape from the large halogen or possibly arc discharge lights that were used in these.

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So I finally hit up the local lighting store. I didn’t have high hopes, they look like a generic lighting supplier, but it turns out they repair lights and have a stock room in the back which has a selection of common parts…at a much lower price than we’ve paid elsewhere. And without shipping :-)

And supporting a local business.

So that was cool.

And then I brought them home and sprayed them, along with the bits from the really crappy lights we got from Beautiful Halo which I sanded the worst of the rust from…

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Unfortunately, the new paint reacted with the old paint… but hopefully it will look adequate at the distance it is from us.

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Actual forward motion

So the last couple of days have felt more positive, which is probably more a frame of mind thing than actual change in rate of progress. The mind is a funny thing. Anyhow, the sink is now replumbed with a new seal and some putty, and now only leaks very slightly. I could probably have achieved zero leakage if I was willing to spend endless hours on scraping the bottom surface of it, but it’s just a temporary sink and for the sake of leaving a bowl under it or not, I think I’m satisfied with the time/cost/benefit situation as it stands.

US sinks, incidentally use a piece of cardboard as a “slip washer”. Cardboard. In an area that might get wet.

I’ll just leave that there.

Still, the sink is working.

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We also spent a few hours (quite a few hours) yesterday getting the extractor fan mounted on the wall. Irritatingly, our 3-year-ago guess as to where it would be is about an inch out. Which means that the chimney won’t quite fit the last few inches… On the other hand, it saves us cutting the stainless steel, which probably would have been a complete pig to do well, so maybe that’s for the best. We just need to come up with a neat way for it to be covered…

I also have spent quite a lot of time tidying the garage – well “putting things in drawers”. It’s not really proper tidying, but until the wood is out of the garage and I can sit and have a proper think about which tools should live where… it just needed to be organised enough that we could physically get in there and get things.

In other news, 50% of the house is surrounded by drain-rock.

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And we have a new postbox, thanks to a spurt of stupidity energy, and the realisation that when I’m at work people could pinch our mail.

Oh, and in final news, I have an awesome new sticker on the car:

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It’s courtesy of @distressed_egg

Well that went….

So, we moved into our new house! It’s still not finished, but we’re in it. And things have gone…okay. There’s this deep excitement which I (we) get flushes of.
“We built this!”
“Ooooh, I’ve not seen that angle before, it’s pretty”
“Oh hey! You can see the moon through the skylight!”

Stuff like that.

There’s moments of deep joy. Stuff that works. The washer and dryer doing their stuff without any drama (at least so far). The moment we first switched the cooker on.

Taking a bath…

Laying in our bed at night, looking up at the ceiling that we built in the house we rebuilt… it’s crazy, but it’s cool.

And then there’s the less positive stuff. I’ve realised I didn’t load balance the panel properly. I think it was so long after I did the diagrams and worked it out, that I just went “oh, I could put this here” for the car chargers and the dryer and the oven and reverted to my UKian ways.

Which means that the car chargers and the cooker and the dryer were all on one phase.

Ooops.

I’ve managed to move one of the car-chargers across, but there’s not quite enough length to get either the cooker or the dryer circuit across. I am debating whether to splice some extra length onto the dryer circuit – that’s the easiest to move, and it would make it so that we have dryer/charger on one side and cooker/charger on the other. At any rate, I need to get some blanking plates for the panel. Made worse, because I accidentally took out the wrong flipping covers when I moved the car charger’s breaker.

Irritatingly, the 50AFCI/GFCI breaker that we have seems to be faulty. It’s tripping without purpose. I initially thought maybe it was the damp weather and the tight box that the outlet is crammed into, but it turns out that no. It’s just tripping. I’m leaving that for when I’m next in the panel though – and when we have a second charger. We currently only have one anyhow, so since the 40A breaker is fine, so it is kind of a moot point right now.

We’ve also been working on installing the kitchen – basically one unit at a time we’re creeping down the kitchen. Laughably, I thought we might be able to do it the day after we moved… Oh, the foolishness of youth. We worked all day yesterday and got the two long units installed. And managed to get the temporary sink dropped into the temporary work surface. I then spent much of this morning working out how to plumb it in, only to discover that it leaks from a tiny rusthole which is invisible from the top of the sink, but apparently, someone decided it was okay to give a broken sink to habitat and after a while it just quietly starts dripping.

The main drain side of the sink also seems to have started leaking, hilariously. I’m going to go tomorrow and get a new washer for that one. But I can’t say that I’m the happiest bunny in the world.

Now we just need to get the cooker leveled and then the 18″ unit next to it…

The dishwasher is looking like it might fit…if only I can get the fucking thing to turn on. It’s a used dishwasher that was allegedly working when it was sent. It’s in good condition, but it doesn’t appear to want to start it’s cycle. It illuminates the “yes, I’m on” and “this is the cycle you’ve selected” lights. It just doesn’t start. Now, my guess is that the door-sensor switch is fubar, but that means taking the dishwasher apart which wasn’t high up my priority list.

There’s a slim possibility I might cave and pay for someone to come look at the dishwasher. It’d be convenient if one of the things – either the sink or the dishwasher was working, though. Still, I’ve actually had coffee today, so that’s nice. And we finally have drinking water available in the house (even if I did plumb the tap backwards – so hot is where I think cold should be).

Why so quiet?

Well, as has become tradition, after Xmas I headed to CES for Transport Evolved which is a week of work surrounded by 2 days of travel at each end. It went well this year, and you can find videos at Transport Evolved’s website / Youtube channel. That took me away from the house after our Xmas break. Part of this was because while there is stuff to do, the inside stuff is – or was – waiting on the arrival of the flooring compound. The outside stuff is not particularly time critical – and it was time for us to have at least a bit of a break.

We took a couple of days down in Oregon, just walking and mooching around the Hood River area because we were gifted a voucher towards a holiday stay. It was much needed.

Then, like I say, CES. Today I was back at it – a little. See I got some plague at CES and have a tedious cold. Yesterday I had to go over to the house because Tuff Shed were back to fix the code violations on the garage. Thankfully, our inspector was available to come and talk them through what he wanted done, and I think it’s been resolved. But yesterday I bascially got to the house, opened up the garage and sat in a chair for 2 hours while they worked.

Today was the more exciting day. Today we got a garage door.

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This is super handy because we handed in our notice and are planning to move next week. So it’s super handy also that our house is completely finished.

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Well…”completely” might be over stating it. But the flooring compound has at last arrived. And today I put down the elastomeric membrane that hopefully stops the flooring compound from cracking. So Sunday is the terrifying day when we start putting down the compound. Then Monday is another compound application day. Then Tuesday is starting moving and…installing the kitchen.

And then moving continues until it’s done.

Fingers crossed.