Tiling gods

We have continued work on the bathroom… it’s slow because (wo)man handling the tiles is a bit of a nightmare, and so it only really happens at the weekend. We have, however, nearly finished one of the walls – it’s just got a couple of irritating needing-cutting tiles to do right up at the top.

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The south wall has passed the half way mark, too, which is cool. We should be able to get that done in another day or two.

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I also spent a full day a couple of weeks ago working on the mosaic tile that finished off the bathroom shelf and around the lightswitch:

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All in all I’m really pleased with how it’s coming together… it’s a bit of a slog, but I think it’s going to be a really, really nice bathroom when it’s done. Small, but very cool. The new bidet has arrived, so that needs to go in too.

But after this there’s grouting, sealing, installing the shower and the sink, and eventually some trim.

But it’s a hell of a lot closer.

Run baby run.

It’s been tough recently. I mean, I’m not talking about things outside the US – that’s been tough, too. Or climate change (which is both inside/outside the US) which is just…intense. But just here. And in the UK, too, I suppose.

I’ve been fighting to just be me in the world, I guess, since I was four. That’s the first time I expressed that my gender differed from my sex assigned at birth to my family. This year, that’ll be forty years of fighting just to exist. And as hateful bigots in the Republican party have decided that an onslaught on women, queer, brown and trans folks’ rights is the way to ensure their ‘base’ is sufficiently energized [read: filled with hateful bile] to come out and vote for them [it’s hard to persuade them to vote for the R’s on their actual main policy of enriching themselves at the expense of the poor and middle class], I’ve been feeling… tired.

Exhausted more like. Not beaten. Because I will never, ever give up my right to be me in the world. But I’ve been feeling more trans than I sometimes do. A lot of the time it kinda fades into the background. Like the fact I have a fatty liver, or that I’m at high risk for colon cancer. Like the fact my hair’s going grey, or that my knee’s a bit knackered from the bike accident. It’s part of the fabric of day-today-being-me, but not constantly at the forefront. In fact, until the last few years it was often not even in my head at all for days at a time.

But now… Right now? It can’t slip into the background. The news is shouting about how trans folks are some giant conspiracy (to what? have a nice cup of tea and a sit on the sofa? That’s my main agenda); about how trans kids should be tortured and pushed to suicide; about how we shouldn’t have healthcare or exist outside our own houses. Not that we should be allowed to exist there – because when you’re a kid apparently you’re too young to make a decision until you’ve experienced puberty. Then once you’ve experienced the pain of the wrong damn puberty then you’re apparently too [insert sex here] to transition.

Did I say fuck these people? Because fuck these people. Fuck them. I hope they rot.

I know how hopeless, how lost, how betrayed by my body I felt. It’s taken me forty years to get to a point where I can feel invested enough in this flesh sack to drag it out for regular exercise. And that only happened five fucking days ago.

I did manage – back in Bristol – to negotiate cycling to work. That was the best I’ve felt about my body before. And maybe if I’d continued that then I would have got to this point sooner – because I actually felt better about myself when I was kinda forced-exercising. But actually to do more than the bare minimum maintenance? That’s taken years of intermittent yoga at home, a lot of love and care from my wife, and a lot of working through shit in my head.

Ironically, I think that this burst of activity might in a way be a fuck you to the legislators who want me to disappear and die. Just that attitude from them makes me want to live as long as possible. Just to spite the small minded turds.

But yeah, it’s hard to feel positive. I’ve heard this music before.

Britain’s legislative landscape is so atrocious that NZ granted a trans woman asylum. That’s the work of the evangelical funded TERFs coming to fruition. It doesn’t make trans folks go away — excepting that some trans kids will kill themselves. A tragic loss that some TERFs seem happy to gloat over. Mainly it just makes life worse for trans folks, which is a shit thing to crow over.

When I stopped running TGY I really, really thought that we were close to the UK becoming an accepting, equitable place for queer folks. I didn’t think we were there, but we didn’t seem as many millions of miles away as we were when I joined the group. Instead, the UK’s slid backwards, and the evangelical right have learned from those first forays into ruining peoples lives and driving folks to death, and decided to replay the record on fresh instruments in the US.

As you have probably gathered, I’m feeling pretty negative about it.

But the running every day? That’s been nice.

Logan's run clip subtitled "I hate outside!"

…at least, sometimes.

Puja for Mymble

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Mymble wasn’t well for about a week. We noticed she didn’t seem her normal self – she was always first up and out of the coop – or if not there was an argument at the coop door with her and Astrid fighting for the exit. But Tuesday and Wednesday she was slower to come out. Then she had some watery droppings on Thursday. And on Friday she seemed to not be eating much and seemed very lethargic.

Concerned for her – and the rest of our tiny flock – we got her inside on Sunday, when I was off, and she spent Sunday through Tuesday indoors. She’d always seemed quite interested in “indoors”, occasionally trying to follow us through the door… she was just a friendly and curious chicken.

When we cleaned the coop she’d pop up behind us straining her neck to see what we were doing, and sometimes – somewhat inconveniently – she’d fly up and perch right in the way on the removable board that stops the shavings escaping. Or hop up on their sleep perch right in the way of us trying to remove the droppings.

She was no doubt the absolute head of the flock. Top of the pecking order, which she enforced with no lack of vigor. Threats to her leadership weren’t tolerated at all. But unlike the others she was sometimes easy to catch – dropping to a submissive pose and letting us scoop her up. Only if she was in the mood, though.

Other times she’d not be in the mood and she’d lead the other chickens and us on a merry chase to try and catch her.

She’d bask on her side in the sun – letting the rays warm her wings.

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We tried to help her these last few days. We had an appointment this morning at the vet’s, the earliest we could get her in to any local vet. We didn’t think, weak as she clearly was, that we’d make it to the vets up in Seattle that have emergency appointments. Last time we took her anywhere – which was when we got her from just a few streets away, the entire journey was angst and flapping and annoyance.

Because none of them had ever really been sick before we’d never got any of the chooks registered with a vet, so emergency appointments are apparently not a thing for unregistered-with-vet-animals.

So we gave her electrolites and water, and kept her warmer inside. She stopped eating on Monday. On Tuesday all she took in, as far as I can tell, was the water that I syringe-dropped into her beak. I gave her some strokes, which she didn’t seem to mind, and talked to her some.

And we woke this morning to find she’d passed. We’ll hopefully get answers from an autopsy, but the vet suggested the constellation of symptoms could well signify a cancer. Apparently that’s actually pretty common even in relatively young chickens.

I hope that she didn’t suffer too much those last few days and hours.

On her final journey with us – I followed my mum’s suggestion and performed a puja. I’ve never done a puja for a chicken before.


Aniccā vata saṅkhārā,
uppādavayadhammino.
Uppajjitvā nirujjhanti
tesaṃ vupasamo sukho

Impermanent alas are formations,
subject to rise and fall.
Having arisen, they cease;
their subsiding is bliss.

It’s not for me. It’s for Mymble’s next birth. But all the same I found it very comforting.

Safe flights mymble, and I hope you get all the corn you desire.

Flushing, WA.

This toilet installation has been *rough*. Well, maybe not that rough. It’s been tough going though.

So I made a list, checked it twice, looked at the bits in the bags that came with the loo and then ordered a bunch of bits. Obviously, because I’m a twonk, and also because toilets here are different to the UK, and also because the bag *looked* like it had the screws in that hold the toilet to the flange – but in fact, they’re just two random screws which aren’t mentioned anywhere in the instructions…I didn’t manage to get all the bits.

Anyhow, during the past week I took up the broken tile, scraped back the tile adhesive, and got the new tile down and lined up pretty well. In fact, you can’t really tell that there was a tile related disaster there. That did involve getting a special tool for scraping tile adhesive. Annoyingly, I couldn’t find anyone who had the SDS hammer attachment in stock, so I had to do it by hand.

A task that was not an enormous amount of fun.

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Still, I suppose it was deserved.

Since then I fitted the flange-raiser to bring the toilet up to the level of the tiled floor. I’m not terrribly fond of it, but it’s done. And I also grouted the floor which, at the end of all this pain, looks pretty good.

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And with that done I could start on plumbing in the outlets for the toilet.

Of course, things at this point started to go a little sideways. The holes we made lined up well enough that I could remove the plugs – but not well enough to be able to attach the little spur pipes that bring the water out of the wall. That led to quite a lot of time with the drill and the diamond cutting bits to make the holes larger and better aligned.

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Eventually I got there, but it wasn’t a quick task. Then, having done that I had to wait for the bits I’d ordered to get picked for kerbside pickup. I ordered them in the morning, thinking they’d be there in the afternoon, but the 2 hour order window took overnight and then I was at work the next day.

Soooo. Saturday morning we ran to BOB and picked up the parts, then, when we got them home I realised I’d ordered compression joints instead of threaded joints (wishful thinking on my part), so I had to go back to the store to change them. I took a few minutes to think beforehand whether there were any other bits I might need and then headed off, did a very quick run to grab the bits I needed (which annoyingly don’t come in a bulk pack unlike the compression ones), and ran back.

Fitting them was the pain and torment I’ve come to expect from US threaded joints. No matter what I do, or what sealing compound I use, or how much PTFE tape I throw on, it seems to be an absolute mare to get them to seal. After several failed efforts, I think it was fourth time lucky on the cold (only second or third on the hot, funnily enough) and we left them overnight for me to check in the morning – this morning.

And I believe success was had (fingers crossed / touch wood*). So we could move on to fitting the toilet, which just needed to have the wax ring applied, and then be positioned on the flange and sealed…. now where are those bolts to hold it to the flange?

…so another trip to BOB, and I returned with better quality caulk (because the stuff we have in is for draft proofing the studio), bolts and some more masking tape – because you can never have too much masking tape.

And then we finally, finally, got the toilet on. At which point we found that the bit in the review which said it was extremely difficult to tighten the bolts was, in fact, not lying.

It was fucking evil.

The little hole through which you get to put your fingers to position the bolt on the nut is juuuust too small.

We also discovered that the bidet I’d bought from BOB won’t fit – annoyingly we discovered this after installing it – which makes it impossible to return – so we’ve ordered the same super cheap one we got from China last time. Hopefully this one will be as good as the first one. We also discovered that the toilet-water feed pipe was too short. It’s only about half an inch short, so it’s reasonable I thought it’d fit. Again, we realised that it definitely wouldn’t fit after installing it. I’d be more annoyed at myself but thanks to COVID stock shenanigans it’s literally the only length BOB had in stock. So meh.

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Anyhow, despite some optimism earlier today, the toilet does, in fact, sit about 1/8″ too close to the wall to fit a tile behind it, so we’ll have to cut the tiles around it, which is quite annoying. But we didn’t expect to have tiles there, so…

Still. We also made some upward progress on the tiling:

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Including the finicky bit around the sink drain.

It is gradually starting to look quite a lot like a bathroom.


Oh, and in other eggsiting news, it seems that all three of our chooks are off their winter break amd laying again :)


* Touch a small deciduous forest.

In which past Kate inadequately fixes a suspected problem and future Kate gets to actually fix it.

So. Large format tiles. Genius idea. If we get large format tiles it’ll probably help cover the unevenness of the walls and it’ll go quicker, I thought.

Unfortunately, we decided that the tiles we liked are nearly 6 foot long and nearly a foot wide. Turns out they’re “quite difficult to handle”. But last weekend (well, MLK day), Kathryn and I spent a chunk of time carefully cutting the tiles to length for the bathroom floor. That done, midweek, I laid them.

Now, these are essentially 4 foot long in their longest segments, buuut, the bathroom floor is small and the shower basin is tiled already. So, it’s a bit of a tricky job all round getting them in. And one of those tiles, the last but one, I wasn’t wholly happy I’d managed to get well adhered all the way across the back. I’d already lifted and relaid it because I wasn’t convinced the first time, and the second time I was happier – but not truly happy. If i’d’ve been truly happy I probably wouldn’t have shoved some more adhesive under the back edge of the tile.

But, I thought, it’s probably good enough because it’s just our bathroom so it’s only going to have us going in and out. And it’s right in the corner of the door where we probably won’t stand that much.

Which may have been true. But it still, probably, would have been better for me to have a third stab at getting it well adhered.

Still, it all looked nice:

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And then today came. And current Kate discovered the flaws of past Kate’s work*.

Past Kate managed to do this because she was trying to do something silly. So Kathryn and I started on the walls today – and the plan was to just do the fist tile on the walls. Why? Well, that way we could spend a lot of time and get it ‘just so’. Really nicely level and straight and then the next row should be a breeze.

And the first round went okay. But, because I screwed up slightly with the water, I mixed waaaay too much goo. And so we decided we’d do a second row on the ‘easy’ wall.

Ha.

So, I gooped the wall, Kathryn brought in a tile and we set to attempting to adhere it. Of course, when the guy in the store mentioned that one of the challenges with large format tiles like this is they do bow a bit, I didn’t realise quite how f’ing much they bow. So the first attempt to stick it to the wall had a massive gap between the middle of the tile and the tile adhesive.

That obviously wasn’t going to work. So, then I peeled the tile back and attempted to balance it on the tile below. Now if the tile didn’t have a bow to it, this might not have been as blatantly foolish as it was. Kathryn suggested that she should help, but in my head I was trying to work out if this was a job I could continue by myself on a weekday, so I wanted to do the adjustment without help. Now, had I been clever about it, I’d’ve suggested that she stabilize one end, or even prepare to stabilize one end so that if it did start to escape from my grasp it wouldn’t do exactly what it did do.

Which was fall, chip the corner of the tile, shatter the corner of the poorly laid tile, then bounce and chip one of the blue tiles in the shower end of the room.

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So, uh, about as badly as it could have gone.

At least I haven’t grouted anything yet, so this we I’ll get to break that tile that I screwed up laying into tiny pieces as I pull it up and attempt to get the floor back low enough that I can lay a replacement next weekend.

The other area that past Kate has to answer for her crimes is the toilet. Although this is something that isn’t apparent in any of the plumbing books we have. When it says the offset from the wall should be “x inches” it means the offset from the completely finished wall. Now, had our agricrete worked, then sure, it would have fit. But now, with the tiles there is literally zero tolerance, and so the tiles will have to be cut around the toilet.

Not ideal.

Also, because of the thickness of the tile, plus the heated floor, we get to play with flange thickness adjusters.

This is definitely my “yay” face.

* More than once

Eigg-speriments with Carragheen

So, we decided to make Carragheen Pudding (or Hebridean Jelly). We got this way back when we were on Eigg back in 2019, but it’s sat in our cupboard mainly because it’s vanishingly rare that we have 750ml of milk kicking around which we don’t have a use for.

I mean, it’s pretty rare that we have that much milk in the house at all. Certainly dairy in that quantity is uncommon. Oatmilk, maybe. But anyhow, we realised that after xmas we had a most of a half-gallon container left over which we had no specific plan for, along with some extra half-and-half and some extra cream. So that all got thrown in.

Carragheen is, apparently, a specific variety of seaweed (which I didn’t realise until looking it up) and the recipe we have is a little different:


10g Dried Carragheen
750ml Milk
2-3 Strips Lemon Peel
1 tsp Lemon Juice
2 tsp sugar
1 egg yolk
Lemon slices to decorate
Double cream to serve

You rinse then soak the carragheen for 15 minutes. Then plop it in a saucepan with the milk and the lemon peel. You bring that to a boil then simmer for 30 minutes.

At this point the carragheen should be “quite gelatinous” and the mixture should start to thicken. Then you force it all through a fine sieve, rubbing until the caragheen is through.

Return that to the suacepan, stir in the sugar, egg yolk, lemon juice and bring it up to a simmer for about a minute or two, stirring continuously. Then you pour it into a wetted mould and leave to set for 2-3 hours (or in our case, in the fridge, overnight). It’s served with lemon slices and whipped cream.


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Now, we’d never had Carragheen pudding before, so I’ve no idea if what we made is correct, but it came out with a texture like a firm mousse. Or an American pudding, I guess. And it’s… interesting. It’s not bad. It’s just, well, we felt it was lacking something.

We added a bit of honey on top to it as part of our experiments in fiddling with it, which helped. It cut through the creaminess with some sharpness that helped, but texturally it was a bit lacking for our tastes. So today we’re adding a Graham Cracker / cheesecake type base. I’ve just baked that, so hopefully that should fix the texture thing. If it does, I’d happily make it again. It’s really pretty easy – and it doesn’t taste like seaweed, which was a concern. I’d also be tempted to make some kind of sharp-fruity glaze to go on top once it’s set – again, to cut through that milkiness with some sharpness.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to seeing how this experiment goes :)

Took you long enough…

So just before we moved to the states I embarked on the giant ripping project. See, our CD and DVD and now Blu-Ray collection, along with our downloaded media, had become… how shall we put this: A bit of a state. I was once, in my shining youth, someone who kept their file folders on the computer quite delightfully organized.

And then things started to slip.

And then my music files got merged with various friends and various exes, (as opposed to .EXEs) and the result was what can be termed a “hot mess”. There are folders for the same artist with different spellings (Beatles, The Beatles, PJ Harvey, P J Harvey), there are folders with mp3s and FLACs in one place, there’s just… well, it’s abysmal. Some folders have cover art, some don’t. Some have corrupt files from disk problems over the years. At least one has a track where bitrot got the track, but the CD ROM (and it really was almost certainly an actual CD-ROM drive) decided it was good enough anyway, and what you get is a wild second or so of white-noise with a screech in the middle.

So before we moved, as the CDs were being ripped asunder from their cases and placed uncermoniously into DJ Cases (where I’d stored some, but not all CDs after it started to become apparent that I rather like music and apparently want to have a lot of it), well I started ripping them. Only, I ran out of time, and also energy and… and so well, the hot-mess situation got if anything worse.

Because now there’s the “Clean Rips” folder and a separate “Digital Downloads” folder. And then there’s the old “mp3” folder. And while I *tried* to make sure I deleted the duplicate audio files (I’ve ripped this CD, so I’ll delete the old digital copy of it, and just have the new lossless audio copy)… well, I don’t think I hit them all.

Probably in part because of the “hot mess” situation that was going on with the audio files in the first place.

Now we haven’t got to the visual media yet, but a similar problem exists there.

So since I’d given in and ordered two new hard disks (Finally adding Parity! Yay! (as well as some more space)) for the media server, I thought now might be the moment to… actually restart that project. But there were some hurdles to overcome. First was that I used whitelabel disks (these are reconditioned hard drives) because I’m a cheapskate.

Now these drives are warrantied and all that jazz, but they come with a serial number that’s all zeroes. It turns out that – somewhat irritatingly – UNRAID (and apparently a lot of RAID servers), and in fact various OS’s – can’t deal with having more than one of these drives. That’s because they use the serial number for a unique drive ID and in these drives the serial numbers are all zeroes.

However, the drives to provide a unique ID – it’s just not in the serial number tag. Thankfully Nikki found this guide which I kinda of baulked at, at first, because the media server at that point was just one hard drive. No backups, no parity, nothing. Buuuut. When I reminded myself how much cheaper the whitelabel drives had been than new or even used drives I realised that maybe, actually, I’d like to take a terrifying risk with my media server. So I went back, read the guide, decided it wasn’t really that scary and lo, the drives work.

So then I let it do its parity drive build. Then I added the second drive to the array, and then I spent a while discovering that my old DVD drive doesn’t play with UNRAID. I of course discovered this by spending ages trying to work out why UNRAID wasn’t showing a disk in the drive, before just giving up and trying my other portable Blu-Ray (which I bought because this one seemed to not want to read Blu-Rays (before I discovered that they’d been dicks about the BluRay format. Giant media conglomarates really suck arse). So I got that all up and working, then discovered that “Ripper” was doing an abysmal job of recognising audio CDs and decided that I’ll just have to rip them on my Mac.

So then I decided that y’know what? Let’s do the DVDs. Do the DVDs, then the media server can go back up in the loft (until the summer when we’re going to have to work out an alternate plan, because it’s really too hot up there. It was too hot with one drive, with three I’m a bit concerned about longevity).

And that’s when I found out my drive has Riplock. I think I’d vaguely heard of this when it came in, and I thought “arseholes”. So it’s a thing which stops you from ripping DVDs and BluRay disks – which are recorded in video, rather than data formats – at more than about 4x. Usually around 2x. The fig-leaf claim for this is that the drives won’t spin-up to high speed noisily while you’re watching a film – which is bollocks, of course. I mean, if you wanted to do that without interfering with people’s right to legally format shift then you’d make a bit that you set when you asked for data. Is this “playback for viewing” or is this “retrieving data”.

But no, instead they just made it difficult.

So media ripping is going, but slowly. But I’ve now set up Handbrake, so that I can dump the ripped file that I want into its watch directory, and it will then automatically turn it into an H265 file. That might take about 20 years given the fact that the media server is powered by a 4 core Athlon. Buuut, I’m doing the thing I said I’d do. Which is good.

Image showing processor load at 100% on 3 of four cores and at 96% on the fourth core.

Also good is the fact that its on a UPS considering the power went a bit flickery earlier.

Not so good – my awesomely terrible Bootleg copy of Minority Report (screencam, with the world’s most hopeless subtitles) appears to have died of bitrot. Whodathunk that bootleggers would use cheap, grotty media?

Multiple lines of Error: SCSI error - Medium Error - EC Uncorrectable....

It’s twenty-twenty-two…nearly

I used to do these kind year in review things. I’d usually trawl through my posts, find moments of interest, horror or joy and then put together a bit of a year in review.

I actually can’t remember the last year I did this. I thought I’d stopped more recently, but having made it back to about December 2014 it seems I didn’t have one – at least not obviously even then. I mean, it was always a somewhat lackadaisical process. And I suspect part of me not seeing them is that they might occur in February or midway through January. They were more for me – to help my crappy memory store things that had happened. But having written this blog since… err, about 1999 in various forms, there are habits that have come and gone and when exactly that happened is a bit vague.

To some extent that seems more important at the moment. Without the accoutrements of our ‘normal’ happenings; holidays and trips, visits to restaurants and museums, all the regalia of a fairly middleclass existence (I’m fine with that, btw), it’s easy for life to just blur into one long chunk.

I mean, to be fair, the year has mostly consisted of being at home. I’ve read a bunch of books in the last few months (having finally got back some enthusiasm to read, not just to think about reading) of which The Premonition was quite definitely the most disturbing. I think I read A Deadly Education, this year, too, which was an excellent read. Glitter up the Dark was fascinating, but is very academic if you’re thinking of reading it – which is not belied by its cover. Nothing wrong with academic, I enjoyed it loads, but it’s not a light pop-culture read.

Also excellent was the Annalee Newits A Future of Another Timeline. At the moment I’m reading Blowout, then we’ll be doing some alternating fiction / non-fiction for a bit.

But pandemic notwithstanding, we did get away. We headed out to the Kanascat-Palmer state park with our tent during a period when the pandemic was less intense, and when we were both vaccinated and things seemed to be looking up? At least I thought they were. I mean, they were. Objectively, people were getting vaccinated, they were masking and fewer people were dying.

So we had a lovely little trip – although it seems I didn’t ever actually write up what happened. Mainly we didn’t do much, we read and played games and sat outside in the world. Which was lovely.

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We’ve also had various chicken adventures, from Pippi getting something stuck (no idea what) and having to be fed some olive oil and softened bread, to a case of bumblefoot which we – much to our rather basic veterinary skills surprise – managed to treat successfully at home. Trying to manage the very hot summer weather and the now startlingly cold winter weather (actual -6C, “real feel” -10C)

I spent weeks and weeks trying to find a Mars II EV – a 1960’s Renault based car that had a range of 120 miles and a 48 minute to 80%, 50kW charger. I would still love one. That was because it turned out to be time to replace our BMW i3 with a car less likely to die in a spectacularly expensive way. We bought Imp, our Kia Soul EV. Not as luxurious, but much cheaper to fix.

I’ve also poked at working on Rebecca, transitioned to doing more (and actually paid work) for Transport Evolved, and done a bunch of semi-successful geekery. I’ve a half-working Mycroft Prototype (of course *immediately* after I ordered the bits they completely changed the form-factor and now mine is…irritatingly not ideal). I half-fixed the Ankarsurum mixer. However, unfortunately I think it needs a new belt – which I’ve failed to order because I’ve moved on to other projects and the space is currently taken up by other things.

Mainly, at the moment, the inverter for Rebecca which is absolutely, totally and utterly unwilling to damn-well split in half.

I’m going to try heat next – heating part of the casing and seeing if with some differential heating and more whaling on it with an inappropriately wielded screwdriver I can get it apart.

I also have done some things that have been waiting quite a while to get done – I’ve put new disks in the media server (granted, today. And they’re still getting set-up to be used), tried to finish the 3/4 bath.

Kathryn and I also started work on her art studio. That was meant to be about a week-long project but as you might expect with us it’s… well, it’s taken more than a week and it’s not exaaaactly finished just yet. But it’s coming along. Or getting there, as we say to each other about most things.

I also – in a step which astonished me as much as anyone else – completed becoming an American citizen. This was celebrated in a typically understated way by my colleagues…

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(…you should have seen the state of my desk, too).

I also spent an inordinate amount of time dealing with Miele and our dishwasher which is now (touch wood) working, and delighting me with the much reduced number of dishes that have to be hand washed.

It has though been an incredibly tough year – I’m tired. I’m so fucking tired. I’m tired of the pandemic – and of people who cheerfully act as though there isn’t a pandemic until they get sick, can’t breathe, and then demand that we magic them better with drugs and medications that just don’t exist.

Or fucking horse dewormer.

We live in the stupidest timeline*.

Since it’s now clear that we’ve screwed the pooch on this one – humanity – we had a chance to stop this back at the beginning of 2020, but we didn’t. Then we could have got everyone vaccinated – by which I mean everyone in every country – but no, drug companies need their pound of (dead) flesh, so we kept fucking patents. So now we’re at waiting for it to mutate into something we can more-or-less live with, at least maybe not die with, and become endemic. Or – if we’re phenomenally lucky – we might come up with a general Coronavirus vaccine – which sounds great, but at this point I’m assuming we’ll fuck it up too.

So, yeah, I’m a shining ray of positivity.

We’re trying to decide if next year we just bite the bullet and book tickets to see my mum. She’s not the wellest human in the world, and this pandemic has already robbed me of 2 years worth of visits. She’s already had COVID twice thanks to her compromised immune system. So I worry about visiting her, but I also get that she wants to see me.

I went to a press event not long ago and spent the entire time from arrival at the airport to departing the airport wearing a very stylish N-95. I took it off briefly for some quick swigs of water, and y’know what, I hated every living minute of that flight.

So yeah.

Enough of that.

So next year? Next year I’m hoping to get some things actually finished. I’d like to get Rebecca moving (and have just forked out $400 for a tool to help with that), I would like to get the record deck…

…to not do that. Also to run smoothly and at the right speed, because at the moment it warbles like a yodeling thing.

So that’s where we’re at as 2021 rolls to a close. Or whines. Or whatever god-awful thing its doing.

Here’s to 2022 being better (and not, as the current joke is, twenty-twenty-too).

* Granted that’s because many of the stupider timelines humans have already eviscerated themselves out of existence.

(in)adequately laid plans

So we planned, today, to finally overcome inertia. To start the final push on getting the bathroom done. We planned to put down the microcement coating – today on the floor, tomorrow on the walls.

That was the theory.

Unfortunately, we weren’t suuuper quick off the mark this morning, then we had to revise the process for laying it – being as its been over 2 years since we last tried to do this. Then we realised that there were some things we needed from home depot (namely masking tape). And since we were going to home depot – we should pick up some other tools that might increase our chance of success (round ended finishing trowel*, for example).

Then there was clearing the stuff out of the bathroom – the tile saw, the radiator that’s been sat in there forever, the this, the that. Not that we’ve been using it to store stuff, I wouldn’t want you to think that.

Then there was masking off so we don’t destroy the plaster or the wardrobe just outside the bathroom in the process (something we’ll need to do more of when we get to the actual bathroom walls. Oh gods, the walls).

Anyway, by the time cleaning and masking was done it was peeing with rain outside and juuuust beginning to get dark.

So we concluded discretion was the better part of valour and put it off ’til tomorrow. It just seems silly to start when we’re both at the wrong end of the day – knowing we’ll have to stop, clean everything up, then repeat it tomorrow. And that tomorrow we can’t go on to doing the walls because the floor won’t be dry anyhow.

Overcoming inertia is definitely one of the most challenging things right now. I mean, the weather is grey and wet, and also cold, which makes “doing things” like, say, oiling wood for trim, difficult even if I was feeling motivated. Because to get it warm enough to do that, I need to spend time getting the garage warmed up. Which is posssssible, but not easy.

But on top of that – in case anyone forgot – we’re still in a fucking pandemic. Which I now just find depressing and tiring. Work is intermittently horrendous. And people still won’t just fucking wear a mask. I mean, it’s such a small amount of effort to potentially save the lives of the people you (at least notionally) care about.

So… Just. Fucking. Do. It.

*SIGH*

Also I’m working two jobs. And while one of them is super flexible about time in one regard, the other is the opposite, and just being busy and tired also makes finding enthusiasm for a job that I’m not able to do to a standard that I’m really overjoyed with? Well, it’s hard.

The studio is more or less watertight now, which is good. Still some important jobs to do, but it’s looking good. Hopefully we can get it finished fairly soon :)

So that’s news from the mines :)

* Annoyingly, they only do this in blue steel, not stainless steel. Bleh.

StudioShed

We put in another fairly solid day and a half on the studio shed this weekend. We had an unusual 2 day hiatus in what’s been an incredibly wet streak of weather. I mean, it’s not unusual for it to rain that many days in a row in the PNW, but the actual quantity was a bit beyond.

Anyhow, last I left you it didn’t have a roof – but a couple of weeks back we worked after Kathryn’s work days a few days and managed to get the roof on. Annoyingly, the only edge-metal flashing that Home depot stock for metal roofs turns out to be ridiculously small – at least, the only one they list on their website as being edge flashing for a metal roof – so we’ll need to replace that.

But otherwise the roof is on and functioning. We used the recycled roofing that we pulled off the car-port. Dear reader, ( ;-) ) remember that when you recycle materials, it’s best if they’re not a heap of crap. It took quite a lot of work to get them into a shape that’s fairly functional and should mean that it’s waterproof for a not insignificant amount of time. They weren’t in great shape when they came off the car-port roof, and I’m not going to be the one to claim that 3 years sat in a garden did them a lot of favours. Because it didn’t.

Anyhow, we managed to get it up and onto the roof which was good because it then proceeded to pour with rain – more or less – for 2 weeks.

But yesterday and today we had a break in the weather, so we took the opportunity to get the main window in, the door in, and cut the rest of the siding. The window went in pretty smoothly – in fact the only way it could have gone better is if we’d ignored the advice from the internet about how big to make the rough opening. But, it slotted straight in – and, it turns out, is actually a really rather nice brand of window (albeit probably about 20+ years old).

The door however, that turned out to be… a bit more of a challenge.

So, the door is salvage, same as the windows, but much… much older. Probably 1940s? Maybe older even than that. The frame is clearly shaped for the house it came out of – which clearly had a somewhat loose relationship with right-angles. I mean, I think it had probably heard of right angles, I’m not sure it had met any of them.

So putting the door frame *in* to our rectangular hole? Well, first there was the rot problem – the bottom of the door sill was fairly rotten. We saturated it in rotten-wood-hardener, which should also kill anything in it. Hopefully it should do enough to keep the frame intact a while longer.

Then there was the internet enabled problem – which is that the site that we double checked for rough framing suggested making the door frame *much* bigger than it turned out we needed – which meant we ended up filling in a massive void above the door with some cut lumber. Then, because the sill was steeply angled – and our floor isn’t, Kathryn had to cut some angled shims to sit under the sill step.

Eventually we managed to get it in – it was remarkably level across the top of the sill step and both the side pieces were pretty bang on vertical.

Then we tried to open it. Now I was convinced that the door had opened a bit as we were loading it in the vehicle. I stuck to this belief for quite some time, which turned out to be ever so slightly erroneous. Or wildly wrong. You can take your pick on that one.

So it wouldn’t open. But it looked a bit tight, so we tried various things to un-tight it. Finally undoing basically all of the work we’d done to fix it in, losing all the fix for the twistedness of the frame…

…and it still wouldn’t open.

I even whaled on it with a mallet for a bit – still wouldn’t open.

Then Kathryn noticed a screw. A small screw sticking through the door frame into the door. To stop it swinging open. Removing it…allowed the door to open no bother, and so as the evening wore on we quickly threw the door back in – this time checking for rubbing and problems as we went along.

Today – after a quick trip to the market – we loosely put up the rest of the siding and tried (and failed) to coat the whole thing in waterproofing. Originally the plan had been that I’d continue the festival of the nail gun, attaching the newly cut siding to the building (and finishing off the east wall which is still only partially nailed) while Kathryn started applying the stain.

Unfortunately, time was against us – and so to hurry things along, instead of nailing I applied myself to the task of putting stain on the building. We’re using a super environmentally friendly, renewable whey based stain. Which goes on basically like throwing milk on the building. It was really nice to use, but we only managed the east and south sides, and a little bit of the north side.

So there’s still the nailing to do, and the bird blocks and mesh and associated baffles, but once that’s done the building will actually be properly weathertight. It’s more-or-less weather tight as is, unless the wind is being particularly awkward.

IMG_20211031_175452

In other news that’s quite exciting – I’ve tiled the shower in our en-suite. I still have the remainder of the floor and walls to coat, but… it’s coming along:

IMG_20211028_151025

I’ve also been noodling on writing again. Which is interesting. Wonder if the urge will come back to me. It’s still the same story I was working on a few years ago, but I feel like I might have the beginnings of a notion about how to fix some of the things that bugged me, and maybe even how to finish it. Or at least, get to another point I’ll be stuck at. It’s nice having the characters back, though :)