Categories
Arts Building House Insanity Making

Sewing Desk

I’ve been trying to use a bunch of old scraps to make a new table for my sewing machine. I had a lot of great plans for how I was going to do this. And I can also tell you that I failed at most of my plans. But I do have an acceptable table that seems to work. Most of the things that failed were part of my plan to make it easily disassembleable for moving. So that’s ok. I did learn a lot from these failures, so it’s not a big deal. Pictures below. I like it though I haven’t yet done any sewing on it. But it’s a definitely improvement over what I had been using.

The finished table with the machine on it.
The wood on the right is some old oak flooring and the rest of the top is pine. The “frame” of the tabletop is maple.
I wanted it all on wheels and this was my big failure. The sleeves I put in the legs to hold the wheels were too short. If i tip the table on just two wheels, the sleeves will definitely come out.
The wood is all junk, repurposed from other projects, so there are lots of extra old holes in some boards, which I’m fine with.
Categories
Building House Insanity

No Idea What I’m Doing

I bought an old house, which I love, but which needs a ton of work. And I tend to put things off until they’re really a problem. A few months ago, it rained a lot and there was a lot of water in my basement. After taking a closer look, I’m pretty sure that the problem is due to a leak in my gutter that lets water drip down the side of the house. And this has been happening so long that it has pretty much worn away a lot of the mortar between the bricks. So, my plan, fix the gutter and then repoint the bricks. (*sarcasm)Easy peasy.(*sarcasm)

First issue is I have to get up to my gutter. Years ago my brother and I bought an extension ladder and I thought that I had used this to get on my roof. After he brought it over, I quickly found out that it was a 20′ ladder and about 8 feet too short to get my on the roof. So, fixing the gutter was out for now. I have to figure out another way to get on the roof.

However, the bad mortar joints came down almost to the ground. So I thought that I’d just give it a go and see what happens. I had already bought the lime mortar that my house needs, so all I needed to do was add water and put it on. This is what I thought and it shows that I had and have no idea what I’m doing.

Mistake #1 was I dumped the entire bag of mortar into a bucket, added a half gallon of water and mixed it for five minutes. I should have done this in smaller batches because it was really hard to mix and I didn’t get everything at the bottom mixed. So I had to add more water and mix later. Thing I think I did right was I didn’t add too much water. All the videos I watched pretty much said it’s a very dry mix, so I didn’t add too much add too much water.

Mistake #2 is I didn’t chisel out any mortar. For a lot of the joints, so much mortar was already missing that I don’t think I needed to chisel any out. Because I didn’t chisel out any mortar, it was really hard for me to put mortar on without smearing it all over the front of the brick, which you’re not supposed to do (mistake #3).

At this point, I’m tired of counting my mistakes. Needless to say, I basically made a mess of it and I can prove it by the pictures below. However, I am hoping that what I did will prevent any water coming in over the winter. Then, I will do a more thorough tuckpointing job (or I’ll hire someone) to do the rest of the house next year.

The last thing I’ll mention about this is that I didn’t really do very much, but it took me probably 6-8 hours of work and I was crazy sore at the end of the day. So it was definitely hard work, but it wasn’t awful. And I do believe that hard work pretty much always pays off, so I’m glad I did this. I learned a lot in the process.

This is the first bit I did. Very sloppy.
I got a little bit better as I moved up.
On day 2, I made the mortar too wet and it got sloppy again.
This is the area that’s bad, under the leaky gutter. Mistake #n is I also didn’t match the color of the existing mortar very well.

The last problem is again that I didn’t get all the way up to the roof. So there is a large section right under the gutter that still needs to be repointed, but I have no way to do that right now. One other thing I learned is that I’m not a fan of extension ladders. They make me really nervous. I need to look into getting some scaffolding that will get me on the roof.

Categories
Arts Building House Insanity Making

Still Not Square Part II

I made another box and it’s still not square. Again out of boards I found in my basement. I tried to be a little more artistic with this one. Not perfect, but I’m happy with how it came out. My intent was to have a box to put my off-season clothing in. I’m not planning on going into the box very often. But I found an old hinge in my basement, so I used that for the top.

Categories
Arts Insanity Making

First Mitered Corner Attempt

Since my corners are not so good, I’ve decided that I need to make around 50 napkins with mitered corners for practice. I found a YouTube Video on Sewing Mitered Corners to try to follow. The pictures below are from my first attempt. It’s lousy. Though I thought I was very careful to iron and measure things. I also took my time and sewed as instructed, but when I tried to lay the seam flat, the mitered corners just didn’t line up properly. So perhaps I need to find a book or something with more detailed instructions. Or I just need to practice and come up with my own system. Anyway, this is why I’m practicing. The other problem I had was that I must have mismeasured something. My intent was to make a 16″ square napkin. I wanted the edge to be 1/2″. And according to the video, I also need an extra 1/2″ folded under first. So I think that means I need an extra 1″ all around. I cut the square at 18″. But when I measured the final napkin, it’s more like 15″ square. So I guess I didn’t measure as perfectly as I thought. Oh well.

Here is napkin #1.

Categories
Arts Books Building Family Insanity Making

My Latest Big Project

My cousin retired and she really likes Dr. Seuss. I came up with an idea for a gift and then I came up with the idea of me making a movie of me making the gift. And then it sort of evolved. This is the final gift.

Categories
Insanity Misc

Living Life

I just realized that this website has been down. I’m not sure how long that’s been true. Probably since I had to reboot after the last round of updates I installed. Is it a big deal to me? Nope.

Of late, I haven’t been posting much here. That is not to say that I haven’t been writing or trying to learn new things. I’ve gone full force into writing in my physical journal. For about a month now, I’ve even been scheduling some time each weekend at my local coffee shop. Each Saturday and Sunday, I head there and get a small vanilla latte. Then, I write for a bit in my journal and read a chapter or two of a book. I find this very relaxing, which is a nice balance for days I don’t go to work. And I like setting aside some time to just sit and think. I think it’s definitely helping with my overall happiness. I also am liking the feeling of physically writing things down, much more than I enjoy typing in this blog. Perhaps that’s because I’m on my laptop so much at work during the week. So having some non-digital or non-screen time is quite enjoyable.

This now leads me to think of what I want this blog to be. I’ll have to think about this next week when I’m back at the coffee shop.

Categories
Insanity

Time for Change

On October 29, 2013, I bought unlocked iphone 5s for $689.56 plus $99 more for AppleCare. The phone works ok, but the battery wasn’t lasting very long. If I listed to music and tracked my ride to work and then went to the gym after work, it wouldn’t last through a short workout. That seemed pretty short to me, so I bought a new battery from ifixit to replace it. I put it in this morning. First of all, it was a royal pain to take the old battery out because it was basically glued into place with sticky strips. I had to just continually pry around the battery to get it unglued. And while I was prying, I know I cracked some plastic stuff. As far as I could tell, I got everything back together. However, when I turned the phone back on, I got a message that touch id didn’t work and the speaker wasn’t working either. I don’t use touch id at all, so I don’t care about that. The speaker is a bigger deal. I don’t know why it doesn’t work. I’ve taken the phone apart three more times to check all the connections and it still doesn’t work. Most importantly, the phone will no longer take a charge. So it’s basically junk because the battery is now dead. I find this incredibly annoying. I should not break my phone by just changing the battery. I’m done with Apple because this is bs. I’m basically paying $200/year for my phone, not including the service. This to me, is ridiculous. So I’m looking for a new phone. And the primary feature that I’m looking for is repairability. Here’s the list I’m looking at:

iFixit Repairability List

I’m looking at phones that have come out since 2016 or later only because it’ll be hard to get parts for the older models. So right now, I’m looking at an LG G5, which has a score of 8. (Ironically, the newer G6 drops to a rating of 5.)

On the plus side, I now don’t have to deal with a phone for a while, which is mildly relaxing.

Categories
Gardening Insanity

My Latest Obsession

In my second summer of gardening, I’m thoroughly enjoying it. This year, in addition to tomatoes and peppers. Ted also gave me some beans, watermelon and pumpkin. And I also had zucchini. The pumpkin was weird. The vine grew like crazy all over the back of my house, but then died for some reason. I ended up getting one pumpkin, about the size of a 16″ softball. It was green when I picked it, but as it’s been sitting on my counter, it’s turning more orange. I picked one small watermelon and there are a couple more still growing. I haven’t yet cut it open to see how it looks or how it tastes. The tomatoes have been reliable. I planted some miniature red peppers and I like eating those the best. There are a lot of green ones out there now, so I think they tend to come a little later in the season than the tomatoes. I got a few good size zucchini. However, after I picked them, the plants seemed to die. Since I think I planted them too close together, I ended up pulling them out last month.

Now however, I’m thinking about what’s next. I had a bunch of lettuce plants in one of my boxes. After it got hot, I noticed that the lettuce tasted pretty bitter. So I was mainly letting them grow to get the seeds, which I ended up not harvesting. Oh well. But in their place, I planted some green onions. They went in the ground on Labor Day. Yes, that seems pretty late for planting, but I feel like we’re getting longer growing seasons now. The past winter wasn’t really that bad and this summer didn’t get blazingly hot. Of course, this is just my own judgement. I haven’t consulted any tables of temps in Chicago. But it seems like climate change is starting to affect things. With the hurricanes this year and crazy high temperatures in San Francisco, I think we’ve reached a tipping point. So, if our winters aren’t as cold, perhaps we’ll have a longer growing season. Again, I haven’t quantified any of this, but I’m planting now because I feel like it’s a good idea. Today, I also moved some pea plants and lettuce outside. We’ll see if those take.

So, my latest obsession is to try to garden year round. Now I don’t think that we won’t get any snow, but I feel that it might be workable for growing. I need to build a greenhouse of some sort. I tried a cold frame last year, but that didn’t really work with my simple box and plastic window on top. I think if I were to use two pieces of glass (my own double-pane window) and perhaps put some thermal mass inside the greenhouse to collect the heat during the day and distribute it at night…I may be able to grow stuff year round. I’ve been spending most of the afternoon looking stuff up to see how I might do this. And it’s another crazy idea, that I totally would like to try.

Categories
Computing Insanity

Keyboard not working with old program setup

At work, we use some very old programs. In one program (layout), it opens up the other program (specctra). The weird error was that the keyboard would not work in specctra if it was started from layout. If I started it by itself from the command line, it worked perfectly. I looked at the logs when it started and found a lot of warnings that looked like this:

Warning: translation table syntax error: Unknown keysym name:  osfActivate
Warning: ... found while parsing ':osfActivate:            ManagerParentActivate()'
Warning: String to TranslationTable conversion encountered errors
Warning: translation table syntax error: Unknown keysym name:  osfBeginLine
Warning: ... found while parsing ':osfBeginLine:           ManagerGadgetTraverseHome()'
Warning: String to TranslationTable conversion encountered errors

Searching for this message brought me to this page. And the directions there worked perfectly.

[~]# cd /usr/
[/usr]# mkdir -p X11R6/lib
[/usr]# cd X11R6/lib/
[lib]# ln -s /usr/share/X11 .

After I created that link, the keyboard worked fine however specctra was started.

Categories
Insanity

The Back Part II

On July 21st, I got up as usual and did some stretches for my knee, as I had started doing again a few weeks before, and was putting my shoes on when I felt a sharp pain in my back. I don’t know why, but I do know that I had done this before. So I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. It is now 10 days later and things feel pretty good. I started to be able to do normal things without a ton of pain after about a week. And as I noted in my previous blog post, ice is better than heat. And lying flat on the floor is quite helpful. Though, getting up from lying on the floor is quite painful. But I think it’ll be back to normal after another week. I’m mainly writing this to note how long things take to get better and how often this is happening.

I also think that I might look into joining a gym where I could work with a trainer. Since I had literally just finished stretching and was putting on my shoes, I fear that perhaps I’m stretching incorrectly. And a trainer will work on stretching all my muscles, not just the ones that hurt. I’ll have to look at things to see how expensive this might be.