Hip Rehab Milestone

Today was a big day for me:  I got rid of the crutches and started using a cane.  My grandfather’s cane to be exact.  Also, I drove to work.  The first time in 6 weeks that I have been behind the wheel.  It tasted like freedom.  I was temped to play hooky from work, call in sick, and drive to Montana or Alaska or Mexico…

Tax Day – 2017

🎶🎶Hello tax-day my old friend.
I have mailed my return into you again.
Because an audit softly creeping…
The sound of silence🎶🎶

It is income tax deadline day and time to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s. Once again, and for probably the rest of my life, I have had to pay someone to do my taxes. It is not because I lack the math skills or the initiative or the reason to do them. No, it is because they are so damn complicated. I tried to do it myself 3 years ago, just to see if my numbers were somewhat in line with our accountant’s… Nope, not even close. I would have underpaid a bit more the $3900.00… That would have been so bad for us!

I have resigned myself to hiring professionals to keep me from doing anything stupid and to pay the correct amount.  I gladly pay my taxes as I really like having navy ships, great roads, infrastructure, medical care, libraries, the FAA, etc…  These things cost money and it is a shared burden that I gladly buy into.

It does however chap me a little bit to pay a fair chunk of money every year and then confronted with government waste and pork-barrel politics. Over 5 BILLION in questionable funding in 2016, including:

  1. $300,000 to study boys and girls playing with Barbie dolls.
  2. $450,000 to research whether dinosaurs could sing.
  3. $460,000 to have computers binge watch the television show Desperate Housewives in an attempt to predict and understand human behavior.
  4. $12 million by the IRS on an unused email archiving service. It failed to install the activation software.

 

And then there is the 2016 Congressional Pork Report

Flying the Drone

I have had a remote controlled camera mounted drone for about a year. I got it specifically for an airborne camera platform for taking stills and video of cool scenery and of me doing awesome stuff on my bikes, boards, boats, and jeep. The house remodel and garage build have gotten in the way of life and I haven’t filmed as much as I have wanted to. I have 7.5 total flight hours on the drone and am using it and thinking of novel ways to employ it a little more now that I am limited in my mobility with the hip rehab. I took it out last weekend, filming at the beach and this weekend, I got it in the air over my neighborhood on the first REALLY nice spring day.

I am a good little pilot and have my required FAA license, my aircraft is marked with my license number, I only fly where I am supposed to, stay under the 500’ ceiling, don’t go near airports, no flying over peoples’ homes, etc. I have had a few “concerned citizens” and tiger moms at the park get cranky about a drone over their heads, but I point to my prominently FAA license displayed on my case inner lid – printed at 300% larger than the original, cite the FAA and WA state statues calmly in an almost blasé manner without taking my eye off the drone. I have a bright yellow round “H” landing target, an airport flight-line safety-yellow parka, and a couple of small orange cones. I look legit, so I am left alone except for kids who linger hoping to see me crash it into the ground.

I plan to do a more and more filming with it this year, including a stint as the Team Zero FTG videographer for the 2017 Sea to Ski Race. I was originally going to compete in the kayak leg, but the hip said “NO!, not this year…” I also really want to get it out on a few hiking trails around Rainier, make an aerial film about West Seattle, use it to work on a mockumentary film I am piecing together about our dogs lives and how we are the ones that have been trained.

A couple of short snips of video that I have done recently:

What I Want Thursday – April 13th, 2017

Below are the things that I really want and that are present for me today:

To unclutter my life: less superfluous stuff
For my hip to be 100% and to never have to use crutches again
A wish for Brodie to be well and 100% cancer free
More time with my children and family.
Sunshine!!
Summer BBQs and cold rosé in the back yard.
For the basement (mostly the bathroom) to be done.
Hand-written letters – on actual paper – from my kids, friends and family.
A warm, sunny beach vacation
For the US Political system not to be dysfunctional and a little/lot less crazy

Brodie is having surgery again today

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Brodie, our 9-year old French Bulldog/Boston Terrier mix, is having surgery today.  This is his 2nd in three weeks.  He had a growth on his foot that was causing him to limp and three days after I had hip surgery, my wife took him to the vet to have it removed.  The pathology came back as a Basal Cell Carcinoma and they didn’t get it all with the first surgery.  It has been really hard on Stamp-With-Foot.  I am down with the hip, not able to even tie my own shoes yet and she has had to deal with me, work, veterinary oncology appointments, Dr. bills, diving me to appointments, our health insurance, pet insurance, our 2016 taxes, house stuff, etc.  The issue with Brodie has hit her really hard and there have been lots of tears and lots of worry.

Brodie is, after all, my wife’s “fur-child.”  She loves him with all of her heart.  True story:  We took some of our wedding pictures with Brodie and while posting some of them on Facebook, my bride cut me out of one photo and pasted the “new” one of just her and Brodie – he was wearing a bow tie and looked smug.

The prognosis for his full recovery after surgery is really good.  They are going to have to take one or two toes, but the disease has not metastasized into his lungs or lymph nodes, so the amputation will hopefully be the end of it.

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4/24/2017 Update:

Great News! We got the tests back and it looks like they got everything by removing the one outside left front toe. We are all very relieved! Brodie just wants the bandage off, the Cone of Shame to go away forever, and all the stitches out. He has take the bandage off himself like 4 times, much to the displeasure of Stamps-With-Foot.

Diagnosis: Getting Old is Better Than The Alternative.

There are milestones in this life that makes each and every one of us feel the passage of time, the gravity of the age we have reached, and the cool creeping hand of the debt that we all must pay:  Waking up to stiffness, uttering the phrase: “back in my day…”, the day your children grow taller than you, CHOOSING to eat your vegetables, your kids making adult decisions (or not), when your babies have babies, realizing that you own a t-shirt that this older than the lady who cuts what is left of your hair, etc. and so on…

I have been really feeling all of my 43 years lately, for various reasons, but mostly due to hip surgery.  I have, to this point lived an X-Games sort of life: lots of road & trail running, cycling, skiing, snowboarding, rock-climbing, mountaineering, diving, kayaking, canoeing, parachuting, lifting, sailing, skateboarding, tumbling, boxing, surfing, and various other activities that have led to many broken bones, strains, ligament/tendon tears, and the like – I didn’t brag about being awesome at any of it , hence the myriad of injuries…

That abuse has caught up to me and I have had to have major hip surgery to repair both bone and soft tissue after trying intently to ignore mounting pain for a couple of years.  The immediate prognosis after a mostly, but not completely successful surgery is three weeks down in bed, five weeks on crunches, six weeks in a RoboCop-esq hip brace/isolator, and six months before I will be allowed to return to “normal” activity.

My road running days are over – No more long slow distance days on the blacktop.  I will be allowed the occasional trail run after 9 months or so.  No more heavy packs hoisted on my back and carried into the wilderness (30# is OK), and no multi-day/multi-summit peak-bagging.  I can cycle again, but downhill mountain biking and cyclocross are not suggested.  I have had and will continue to have arthritis in that hip and I am guaranteed another 10-20 years of use, depending on how well I behave and listen to my Dr., before I will need a full hip replacement.  Unawesome.

I start physical therapy in earnest next week and I will do exactly what I am told.  I will have spent the remainder of this year slimming down some, working in and on my shop, taking lots of walks when I am cleared to do so, and then figure out when to spend my time activity wise.  Right now, I am leaning toward kayaking, crag climbing, a little skate boarding (longboard – no vert), canoeing, easy snowboarding, camping, light hiking, and some road biking.  Today though, I and just hobbling along inside the house (can’t drive yet) actually looking forward to going back to work next week.

Boat Lust

So, you may or may not know this about me, but I have MAD Boat Lust.  I am a member of the Center for Wooden Boats, I get Wooden Boat Magazine & Small Craft Adviser Magazine every month, go to the Lake Union, Portland, and Port Townsend boat shows every year…  I follow three sets of Blue Water sailors on YouTube, am trying to con my wife into taking a sailing vacation (I am getting a hard NO! on that one currently), and almost bought a used 30′ sailboat last summer for “my son.”   It is pretty bad.  To date, however, I have not come home to tell my with that “We” just purchased an Amel 55 blue water sailboat, a 47′ diesel powered Cabin Cruiser, a Chris-Craft in need of some “light repair”, or a Hans Christian 33 kept in Bristol Fashion that “I” am planning to live on since said purchase would leave me homeless, devoid of my puppies, and divorced.

If my son, The Ruminator, lived in Seattle I wouldn’t mind a swing keel Columbia 22 or a Catalina 22 to gunk hole around the Sound in with him.  A Catalina 270 LE would make my heart go pitter-patter as well, but I am a realist (-ish) and very aware of my current budget and available storage space.   A sailboat that I would only use a few times a year and have to pay moorage of, would make me very unpopular at home.  But, if someone has a 19′ potter taking up space in their life that needs a new home, I would be game…

What I need is a small outboard that that sits on a trailer in or beside the garage, that I can pop over to Blake or Vashion Island on, run up the Duwamish River a little piece, do a little salmon fishing on with my son or friends, haul a crab pot or three in season, find a secluded weekend beach for summer camping, etc…   It needs to have a little cabin to get out of the shifty weather here in Puget Sound, some storage space to keep gear dry, needs to be light enough to be pulled behind the jeep when fully loaded, and fast enough to handle the tidal flow in the PNW.

Buying a finished boat, even used, like a Ranger 21, a C-Dory 19, or a Boston Whaler 21′ Cuddy are WAY out of my price range, I have been perusing Craigslist for a 16′ -21′ hardtops, but the ones I have found are either gold plated & upholstered in unicorn fur or need to be sunk.  So, in due course, I have resolved to build the boat I want.  I know, I know… I have a shit ton of projects already with the shop and house, but I won’t start the boat until Stamps-With-Foot agrees that the house is good and all the little projects at home are squared away.  Happy wife, happy life.

To digress a bit, my current boat lust dream is a Devlin Boats Dunlin 22 Cruiser with all the bells and whistles, but that too would be spendy, require me to quit my J-O-B to obsess over the details properly, I would have to rent out boat house space for the duration of the build, have the time to build it, and would probably cause my sweet bride to up my life insurance just before “accidentally” pushing me into a wood chipper.

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Back in reality, I am looking hard at building a Devlin Noddy 16.  It is something realistic to build over the fall and winter, in the space I have available in the F-Bomb garage, and within my current budget.  Powered by a 4 stroke 50HP Honda or Yamaha, a sardine wood stove in the cabin, a crab pot winch arm on the stern, and lots of LED lights.  noddy16plan-devlin-boats_2017Devlin Boat Works in just south of us in Olympia and in addition to being a design house, that are a proper boat works and build all manner of craft there at any given time.  I have asked to go down this summer if they have a Noddy or similar hull under construction.  We will see if it can be arranged.

I will just lust a little while longer to satiate my boat lust…

A Little Trip to China and the Phillipines

My body clock is finally back to normal after a recent 11- day trip to China and Hong Kong,  with a stop in the Philippines on my way back to Seattle – just in time for Daylight Savings Time (insert grumpy face…).

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It was a trip for my J-O-B and not a vacation, but I did have a chance to get out one day in Hong Kong and an afternoon and one evening in the Manila.  I took my GoPro with me and I carried it around as I walked the streets of Hong Kong and during my entire Junk ride.  I am working on putting together a small film about the ride and the boat.

I spent 7 days in the southern city of Dongguan.  It is a vast web of medium to heavy industrial firms that build all manner of parts.  My employer manufactures aircraft and medical cable assemblies there, but there are hudres of machine shops, PCB board houses, mold makers, and the Apple production site is in the area as well.   The trip to the factory every morning was eye-opening:  traffic hazards, Grade-A people watching, construction, etc…  I rolled up to an intersection on my last day there just as the motocart got t-boned by a mini van. Red lights are really just suggestions in China.

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When I arrived in Hong Kong, my hotel room that had been reserved had been given away to another party.  before I could even ask, I was swiftly upgraded and put in a “Tower Suite” with 3 rooms and a view of the harbor that was sunning.  Probably the 2nd or 3rd nicest room I have ever stayed in my entire live – my suite a few years ago in Shanghai was stunning (no view though) and huge the suite in the Riad l’Aziza in Marrakesh is #1.  The only thing that would have made it better is if Stamps-With-Foot could have been there to enjoy the room and view with me.  Below are a few shots of the harbor view from my window.

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The one day that I had off, I had a leisurely breakfast and then headed out early in a light drizzling rain through Kowloon Park to the Metro and on to a tourist market and a street on Kowloon Island that deals in very high priced antiques – window shopping for me, thank you very much.

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After a little market stall bargaining, I made my way to the docks to get a few shots of the harbor and tour the maritime center.  I happened to be taking pictures when a Chinese Junk boat glided into the frame and docked 50 feet from where I was posted up.  Luck would have it that it was a tour boat and I signed right up and paid the nice lady standing by the gang plank my money as I hopped on board.

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The boat is called the Duk Ling and is that last surviving original sailing junk left in Hong Kong. There used to be 1000’s of them.  They were ubiquitous and feature prominently in 70s era Kung Fu movies shot around HK.  I am told that they were casualites of the 1999 hand over and modernization of the harbor.

Built in the 1950, and rescued from a watery grave after a monsoon in 2004, The Duk Ling sails Victoria harbor as a floating time capsule. I took a harbor tour aboard from Kowloon Island to Kowloon and I smiled the whole way.

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My room in Manila, where I spent three nights, was not as swanky as the Honk Kong suite, but the view was just as sweet.

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I was in the Conrad – Pasay , which is connected to The SM Mall of Asia.  I was told proudly by the hotel staff that it is the 11th largest mall in the world, but that is, to date, an unverified claim.  Regardless, it was huge and had a whole section that was grouped with music and instrument shops.  I may have bought another ukulele… IF that happened, that would make three. There were two stores here that only had ukes and uke related items for sale. OK, I admit it…  I picked up a little pineapple shaped mahogany Kala. I couldn’t help myself. Iit was retail and even in Manila it wasn’t a great deal, but it was about 10% cheaper than I can find online in the US AND I have a cool souvenir from the Philippines.

The Jeepney bus is still everywhere in Manila.  As an owner/caretaker of a 1986 CJ7, it makes my heart happy to see the pride that some of the owners take in keeping their vehicles in immaculate shape.  It sounds as if they too will soon be a victim of the modern world: while I was there, it was announced that there was going to be a government crack down and all the old Jeepneys would have to be retired – pollution and safety issues.  The owners got super pissed and held a protest and a day long strike.  I hope that they remain a fixture of the city in some way or form..

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When I made it home from Asia, it was really nice to see/know that my sweet wife and Truffle missed me. Truffle demanded my time and attention for hours after I walked in the door.  I spent a little time in the sunshine, serenading her with a little ukulele while she napped on my lap – we were both happy.

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The New Kitchen Floor is Now Installed

It has been a while since I laid a floor tile – like 18 years.  Things haven’t changed though and while time consuming and very detailed – lots of steps – I still remember how it is done.  There was no way that I was going to pay someone to do a job that I can/could do, so I took on the task of installing a new kitchen floor in our house.  the last of the major projects that I took on during our home remodel.

The job is now done and looks great.  Most importantly though, my wife is happy.  She has a new kitchen floor and it is exactly what she has wanted for years: a black and white checker board kitchen floor that is laid on the diagonal.  I am glad she is happy, because I REALLY don’t want to redo it for the next 90 years or so.

After ripping off 7 layers of old flooring, filling holes, patching a couple sections, removing 40+ screws and 100+ staples, and scrubbing the sub-floor clean, we were ready to start.  Starting about 9:00 one Saturday morning, I cut and laid ¼ inch water resistant underlayment – stapling in the field every 4” and along the seams every 2” with narrow gauge crown staples.  Starting about 10:00 the next morning, I vacuumed the whole space 3 times to clear any and all debris and locked the puppies out of the kitchen.

Because there is not ONE SINGLE square or plumb wall in my entire 90 year old house, I snapped a grid in the middle of the floor, squared from the doorway leading from the living-room, so that it would look square as viewed from the main room of the house.  I applied glue on ½ of the floor and started in the middle of the room and worked toward the south wall/breakfast nook.  Stamps-With-Foot cleaned tile as she pulled it from the cardboard boxes (success is in the details) and handed me them as I laid the field and she cut most of the edge pieces as I marked them.  Her help was GREATLY appreciated.  We laid the other half of the floor, starting about 6:00pm Sunday evening and finished the last piece about 11:30pm.  Not too shabby for one weekend’s worth of labor.

I let the glue cure for five days before sealing and then applying 5 coats of satin floor wax.  Pre-painted (by me) ¼ round trim was applied around the edges of the walls and cabinets before I very carefully brought the appliances back in and reinstalled.  The VC tile I used should outlast my grandchildren and just needs to be scrubbed every other week, then stripped and re-waxed once a year if so.

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Living in Crazy Times

It is like I wake up in a Hieronymus Bosch painting every day next to Bill Murray, alarm clock ringing and Punxsutawney Phil waiting on us – It just keeps getting weirder.  We are doing our best to just keep soldering on: Being good little consumers and all, but I am not blind or ignorant, so I have done a little bit to make me sleep better at night and here are some suggestions if you would like to do the same:

  1. Charity starts at home.  If you know someone in need – quietly help them.  A smile, a hot meat, and lending a hand goes a long way.
  2. Hunker down and get really active politically for the next 4 years, write and call local, state and federal reps, give $ to ACLU and PACs, vote with our dollars, and show up at demonstrations.
  3. If you live in Seattle or King County or Washington State, below is a list of political appointees that you should be contacting so that they hear your voice:
  • Seattle City Council up to date info, contact, staff, and committees can be found here. 
  • Additional info on for the Mayor, departments and judiciary are found here
  • King County elected officials’ contact information is listed here.
  • Washington state governor’s site
  • Contact information for the entire Washington’s State legislature and elected officials can be found here
  • information concerning Washington’s Federal Representatives and Senators as well as all Federal elected officials can be found here.

My Wife’s Prized Chandelier Almost Made Me Poop Myself

We are in the house remodel home stretch. Just small trim details left on the main floor. One of them being my wife’s chandelier installation. I had planned to install the kitchen floor this past weekend, but Stamps-With-Foot had other plans. She sat me down over coffee Saturday morning and made it clear that my plan was out and that her sparkly lamp was in. Always a fan of choosing my battles wisely – into the dining room I went.

I needed to caulk the new dining room crown molding and prep it for paint before I could install the ceiling medallion/escutcheon for the light. It took two passes and some light sanding, but all the cracks and gaps are filled and we were ready to hang the crystal and steel behemoth around 4:00pm on Saturday. I had my wife sitting in the attic holding the chandelier by its safety cable while I wired it to the ceiling junction box. Like in a really bad sit-com, there was a “ping” noise, the safety wire popped, and the stupid-expensive hunk of cut glass and metal headed to the floor. It happened like it was all in slow motion. Now this thing is not small. It is not light. It did not come with handles. From the top of a six-foot ladder, I instinctively reached way out and grabbed her prized chandelier as it fell. I teetered for a second on the top of the ladder, having flashes of crashing to earth and how many stitches I would be getting, before the ladder stopped moving and I was able to slowly walked the beast down to the floor. I did have to check my britches as it was a rough couple of seconds, anything could have happened. Thankfully, just one single tiny glass bit cracked in half from the jolt – super glue will be the answer. The ceiling medallion also popped loose and I had to pull it down, remove the adhesive and remount it, afterward clamping it to the electrical box and taping the edges to the ceiling so that the glue would set up overnight.

After getting the medallion in the air, I went to Home Depot, purchased some 1/8” stainless steel cable and with a swaging tool -everyone should have their own… 🙂 , I remade the safety cable. After waiting until the next morning, I spent an hour installing the beast. My wife danced around with giddy joy when I flipped the switch after all twenty of the 45watt bulbs were installed. Happy wife, happy life…

I will be done painting the trim this week, the blue and yellow tape will come down,  and then the dining room is 100% done. On to the Kitchen.

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My New Coffee Cup and Various Other Weekend Activities

Stamps-With-Foot and I packed our weekend full of activities.  The SCA was holding their 12th Night Celebration here in Seattle this year and far be it from us to miss a costume do.  My wife went in a deep burgundy Tudor gown that she made and had to be sewn into for the occasion.   Her snood (hair piece) and jewelry matched the dress as well.  I was dressed as her man-servant.  We sort of matched, but she sparkled – Lots of compliments on her dress and attire.

In addition to some serious people watching and taking in the fencing tournament, I spent some serious time at the merchant faire and picked up a tarboosh (Fez hat) for another costume event, a viking bearded axe, and a skull cup.  You read that correctly.  There is nothing like having your morning cup of Joe with a little cream and sugar, sipped delicately from the cranium of your enemy.  There was a potter at the event selling ceramic, anatomically correct, skull mugs and my wife bought me one for my desk at work.  It is the little things in life that make me the most happy.

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In addition to 12th Night, we also:

Took down the Christmas tree
Rolled up the lights outside
Cleaned up the living room
Played with the puppies
I washed/scrubbed the road salt off the jeep and put it in the garage
Washed and vacuumed out my wife’s Subaru
Helped out a guy with a dead battery
He stole my jumper cables accidentally, then brought them back
Made breakfast for my mom
Had coffee in my new mug 🙂
Wrote a couple of letters
Cleaned up in the shop a little
Finished reading a book about bees
Had a great warm, long lasting fire
Cuddled
Watched Sherlock
Played Battlefield 1 with Dr. Brown
Started a new book

All and all, a good weekend away from my J-O-B.

Film Friday – Closing Out 2016 with a Snowboard Trip with My Son

For Christmas break this year my son, The Ruminator, wanted to do a little Snowboarding. I figured it would be a nice positive cap to a so-so year personally, physically, politically, etc…

Note:  This is the fist film edited and made since my switch from GoPro Studio to iMovie and since my conversion from a Windows 10 computer to my Mini Mac for video and Audio editing.  It was so much better to use and just worked!  See this post for more detail.

Stuff My Wife Says – Volume II

I have written previously about some of the things that have come up in conversation with my sweet, bubbly, kind, giving, gentle, well-adjusted, awesome wife. Well, with the passage of time I have… err… SHE has more to say on the subject. Enjoy:

  1. I was splashing my wife in the hot tub the other night and she yells “Onomatopoeia! Onomatopoeia!!” It is apparently her new “safe word”. My safe word is bacon.
  2. While Living in France, we bought a lot of wine that we brought back to the US.  Most of it is in the normal .75L size bottle, but there are some .375L demi-bouteilles, a few 1.5L magnums, and one 3L double magnum bottle as well.  Stamps-With-Foot has taken to calling the .375L bottles “Juice Boxes.”  I teased her that it is because they would fit in her lunch box.  She looked up at me with smiling, happy, dreamy eyes, then over at her 1984 metal Thundercats lunch box (really that is what she takes to work) and said, “Yes…  they would…”
  3. Long story short, I made a crude off hand remark about a lady who’s “carpet matched the drapes”. Instead of smacking me for being a misogynistic and sexist asshole, my wife looked at me with great annoyance and said sarcastically “Great, now I have to think about her snatch!”  I had nothing more to say.
  4. I failed to use my turn signal in moderate traffic while driving near limousine, France and lamented that I was being a bad/unsociable driver. Stamps-With-Foot said offhandedly while looking out the window: “Fuck that. This is France, do you know how many of these motherfuckers have cut me off over the last two years? Fuck them.” 30 seconds later she got all excited, bright eyed, wiggling in her seat with joy & happiness over a fortified Chateau we were passing.
  5. My lovely bride walked into the living room the other night with her phone and computer in hand while wearing mix-matched PJs. I looked at her with a raised eyebrow and she shot back with, “This is as sexy as it gets tonight, maybe all weekend.” Fair enough.
  6. We went out to my company’s winter event just after New Year’s and Stamps-With-Foot looked killer in a long tight velvet dress. As we were getting ready, she looked at me and said, “Tonight is a two drink minimum night”. I started to correct her and she stopped me, making it plain that she did not misspeak and that I was the Designated Driver for the evening.
  7. “I love puppies, diamonds, and PJs – in that order.” Not sure why she said this. It just popped up out of the blue one Saturday afternoon.
  8. Two months after the 2016 presidential election, I casually mentioned talking the “Bernie” sticker off her car window. She snapped back, “You will not touch it! I love that wrinkly old motherfucker and I need to hold onto the faith for a while.” Ok… Me no touchy…
  9. Our female French bulldog, Truffle, has a big personality and is super lovable. She is also pushy, selfish, sneaky, petty. During one painful week long interlude, she puked on my chest while I was asleep, pissed in Stamps-With-Foot’s car seat because we “made” her wear a sweater in 30 degree temperatures, tried to pee on my pillow because I had the audacity to move her from my spot at bedtime, puked on an antique wool Persian rug, took a dump on the front porch because the grass was wet, fucked up a couch pillow, tore the heart out of Brodie’s favorite toy, she chewed up 3 pencils, stole food from Brodie, and went all Cujo on a contractor working at the house. My wife looked at me one morning and said, “No more girl dogs. They are too much work. Just boy dogs – they can be gay though.” I had no words.

A open letter to GoPro:

Dear GoPro,

I am afraid that our relationship isn’t working out. It is not me, it is you – most definitely you. I have been a loyal fan-boy for years, but 2016 has undone us. Let me explain:

I have 4 GoPro cameras, 2 originals, one Hero Session and one Hero 4 Black. There must be $400 worth of mounts and accessories in my video equipment cabinet and mounted to almost everything I own. I was the first in line for the KARMA Drone, and I own a few shares of your stock. Hell, I was at your booth/jam box at NAMM 2 years ago and gushed to the staff there like teeny-bobber. I was at the 2016 NAB show when you guys won the “Best Of” award. Trust me, that I was all in and committed to making it work between us.

I can’t say enough great things about the cameras I own. I love them and use them while biking, boarding, cart racing, 4-wheeling, diving, running, working in the shop, etc… I am happy that the engineers, programmers, and employees in the SF Bay Area can go to work and do cool stuff, get paid a living wage, and work on tech that millions of people use every day. So why are we breaking up???

I mentioned that I own stock. Have you seen those numbers lately?! Hmmm… Screwing up the Amazon relationship before Christmas and not having production capacity did not help after the KARMA fiasco. Did your Contracts Team not even flip through “The Wal-Mart Effect” before negotiations started? Yes, I am somewhat irritated at losing money because a great product line is managed like a PTA bake sale. Additionally, I have had a DJI Phantom 3 Pro for a year or more and it has never once fallen out of the sky. I had the KARMA for 3 days before I had to climb 30 into a pine tree to retrieve it after it fell out of the sky. Camera was OK after the fall, but I sent the drone back for a full refund. One of the smarter things I did in 2016.

The final straw though is GoPro Studio. Holy sweet baby Jesus, I wish I had all the HOURS of my life that have been lost due to crashes, auto-overwrites, searching web forums for patches, and completely re-processing almost half videos I have made in the last 10 months. A recent attempt to make a film out of a Christmas snowboard trip made me want to beat my computer with a hammer for even associating with GoPro Studio. I know, I know it is “free” software… Bundled software with a $500 camera and an $800 drone is not free. As of the writing of this post, the last update to Studio was in October of 2015 – that was 15 months ago, eons of time for software.  I finally had to drink the Kool-Aid and use my wife’s Mac Book to edit the film in iMovie. I made a killer little film in like 50 minutes. The software didn’t glitch, hang, or overwrite my project. It was easy to use even the first time and it just worked. As a note, iMovie is “free” as well…

To be clear, I do not see any of this as a production, software, or engineering failure. It is an issue with program & senior management. Hire professionals that understand product launch logistics, QA/QC, beta test management, vendor & supplier relationships, and the impact all of this has on your business and investors.

In closing, I am sorry that you made me do this on such a public forum. I am sorry that I can no longer support the hard work of your engineering team and production staff by purchasing your products. Spend some time on you, work on who you are and who you want to be, and get some professional help. Maybe someday we can sit down at the table again, but I am going to need my space for now.

Christmas Vacation 2016

Christmas vacation this year was pretty good. I got great stuff Christmas morning, my mom stayed over Christmas Eve, and Stamps-With-Foot made a yummy Honey-baked ham for dinner on Christmas Day. I took the week between Christmas and New Year’s off from my J-O-B. The time was spent just hanging out with The Ruminator, finding a little adventure in the mountains, and getting some stuff done around the house and garage. My vacation this year looked like this:

Up at 6:00 Christmas morning and made coffee.
I got an XBox One and Battlefield 1 for I could play with my 40-year old adolescent friends online.
Got lots of other great stuff!
Worked a little in the basement on Boxing Day (the 26th).
My son, The Ruminator, flew in the day after Christmas.
Second Christmas morning with son on the 27th.
I put him to work that afternoon moving stuff in the garage and basement.
Pulled 4 circuits worth of wire in the garage.
Hung 3/4 of crown molding in the dining room.
Hired a carpenter to help with the finish of the crown molding and window install in dining room.
Hung pocket door and built last wall for bathroom downstairs with carpenter.
Installed structure in attic for chandelier installation.
Went to see Rogue One.
Loved it.
Snowboarding trip to Crystal Mountain in the Jeep.
The Ruminator rode really well
I am a fat old guy, but can still ride.
Owners rented the cabin we had reserved to someone else – insert grumpy face
Drove home.
Snuggled with wife.
Up early and drove to Snoqualmie for 2nd day of riding.
Glorious day in the mountains!
Watch a movie all together for New Year’s Eve.
Had family over on the 1st for long lunch.
Tried to edit snowboarding trip film.
Failed.
GoPro Studio sucks balls!
Serious online gaming session.
Brunch at Easy Street.
Got The Ruminator’s cracked iPhone glass fixed.
Picked up new kitchen floor tiles at Lowe’s special order desk.
Dinner with Nana.
Dropped off Ruminator at Airport.
Teared up in Jeep on the way to work.
Worked late first full day back to work in 2017 – an inauspicious start.

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2017 New Year’s Resolutions:

Stuff I will do in 2017:

Eat my veggies
Lose weight – back to 175!
Go to the gym regularly
Box more
Write more: Blog, letters, notes, fiction, non-fiction
Take a lunch at least 4 days a week at work
Show up to yoga at least once a week
Take a pottery class
Take a Blacksmithing class at the Pratt
Read 1 book every 2 weeks – minimum
Play my uke, banjo, and guitar with others
build a skin-on-frame canoe
Run and bike
Start a guitar building class
Pay off all credit cards
Go Sailing
Give lots of $$ to Heifer and MFS
Make movies and post: Adventure, craftsmanship, and family.
Lessen my Social Media presence (Blog doesn’t count)
See my kids and granddaughter more
Be involved in popitics more: financally and time wise
Work on my Genealogy database a little
Finish the house remodel
Finish the garage/shop/GROP build
Make Stuff!!
Ride my skateboard because I am not too old or too fat
Road trip in WA more
Have two hives of healthy, happy bees
Kayak lots!
See my friends more
Take my wife on vacation
Plant a spring garden
Fix up the front and back yards
Climb more inside and outside
Have an awesome Griswald-like Christmas light display!

Going Full Nerd Now – Star Wars & Conspiricy Theory

As a new Star Wars Movie (Rogue One) has just come out, I have been psyching myself up for it, re-watching previous films, reading up on minor characters and such. Since I was fully emerged in it and Christmas is coming up, I went onto Amazon to buy a few action figures to round out the toy chest I keep for my friend’s kids when they visit. It is full of blocks, Transformers, matchbox cars, Lincoln logs, Barbies, Army Men, Cowboys & Indians, and action figures. There are actually three tubs as I am apparently living vicariously through other children.

Anywho… I am buying an action figure set of Sith characters (no one ever buys enough bad guys) and BAM! who is in the set: Jar Jar Mother Fucking Binks. OH MY GOD! It all makes sense!!!! About a year ago (2015) and REDDIT user named Lumpawarroo proposed a theory that Jar Jar was THE Phantom Menace and really a dark Sith Lord. I skimmed over it, laughed because I hate Jar Jar and have thought George Lucas was high when he wrote him into the script. I then read the post and comments a couple times, nodded with a smile, and passed it along to my fellow nerdy friends so that could laugh too. It was all fun and games until I saw this “official” toy set from Disney, with Pope & Smoke blessing from Lucas Film. My feeble mind is blown!

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There are a number of videos that go into the minute details of this Gungan betrayal as well: Here, Here, and Here. This means that Jar Jar and Senator Palpatine were co-conspirators in the Sith Plot. Jar Jar’s bumbling fool act was just an elaborate staged production to deceive people – ALL people. This means his actions in Episode I&II are to facilitate Palpatine’s plans and are not those of an unwitting idiot that Forest-Gumped his way into a bad situation. They are the actions of an ally, a friend, a co-conspiritor, a partner…
Which makes sense now: Palpatine and Jar Jar are from the same world, which means they have possibly known each other for a very long time. Remember how scared the other Gungans were of him when he showed up at their city in Episode I?! They may have skipped together in Grade School and swapped spit behind the bleachers…

Please stop laughing now. This shit is for real. I admit to being a full-on nerd, but I am Functionally Nerdy: I have a pretty wife and a good job, and can interact socially with non-nerdy folk just fine. Jar Jar Mother Fucking Binks…

Christmas List – 2016

Fat man in a red suit time again…

Gifts that Keep giving:

  1. Heifer International:
  2. A little cash to Doctors Without Borders/MSF
  3. Go give blood and send me a post card
  4. Habitat for Humanity
  5. Money for Diabetes Research

Books:
An Amazon Gift Card
Campaign Furniture by Chris Schwartz
Bees of the World by Mitchner

Stuff:
A gift card to Hardwick’s Hardware in Seattle
Genetic Genealogy testing from National Geographic
Starbucks Gift Card
XBox One with head set and Battlefield1
A coupon for a Royal Shave at The Art of Shaving
A class or two at the Pratt Center in Seattle
French Bulldog cufflinks
Maybe a Woodcraft gift card
Letters from my kids – written on actual paper.
A 2-Day Rally School Course
The Apple Watch 2. Simple black band – Stainless Steel bezel
An Ash Pack Basket (Sling-style harness)
Amber 2ga. Plugs (bonus points if they have insect inclusions)
Tiffany blue silk tie and matching pocket square
These new bad-ass cufflinks

Booze:
A fine Anejo Tequila
Franziskaner or Paulaner German Wheat Beer
Hakushu 12 Whisky
A bottle of Fronsac or Canon-Fronsac (Château Lafond, Château La Vieille Cure, La Dalphine…)
Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey
Porto (Cálem 2011 Vintage, Ramos Pinto, or a Taylor’s)
Glenfiddich 21

Not Looking for a New Job, But…

Port Townsend School of Woodworking is looking for a new Executive Director.  It is my dream job!  I read the job notice early one morning before Thanksgiving and it checked all my boxes.  I have the EXACT qualifications for this position and then some.  It was like the sky parted and a ray of warm sunshine fell upon me.  I needed, my soul need this job!  I had a momentary lapse into my new fantasy life:

Waking up on our 43′ sailboat moored near Ft. Walton Park.
Fresh cup of coffee in the galley.
Kiss my still blissfully sleeping, blanket covered, puppy snuggling wife as I head off the boat to start my day.

Stop in by my dock-side garage shop and feed the cat (
an imaginary cat as I do not have one currently, but would need one for my dockside garage shop in Port Townsend...)
Walk or cycle to work.
Spend my day smiling – the scent of fresh wood in the air around me and surrounded by people also doing what the love.
Stop by a cute local store on the way home for a couple of things and pick up flowers for my wife.
Write a few work e-mails and do a little work on some personal wood projects before dinner.
A fine meal of local veggies and fresh-caught fish with a glass or two of a 2009 Pomerol wine.
Read a little, write a letter or two, play a game of chess, and/or maybe some Netflix before going to bed in our cozy aft cabin.

job

As I day-dreamed about this new life, I got WAY ahead of myself thinking about how I was going to break the news that we were selling our house in Seattle to my wife. I was fully into the dream right up until I read the last little bit: “…Starting Salary: $45K to $55K”. Dammit!

I guess I will keep my day-job and just huff sawdust in my free time. I sent the notice to my boss without any explanation and I got back something to the effect of: ‘I was worried until I got to the end. I think we will be seeing you for a while longer…’

 

Film Friday – Racing on a School Night

In the back of our brains we all thing that we are great drivers.  I have been driving at various semi-legal speeds on various forms of transport for 30+ years.  I have hugged corners on winding California coastal roads, slid into mud holes at 4500+ RPM with all four tires throwing rooster tails, took my GPZ900r & CBR600 on track & road courses, and had track days in an AWD blue Subaru demon, and have done a 1/4 mile in less than 12 seconds.  I even have a helmet at work just in case someone wants to go to the local indoor or outdoor cart tracks.  All facts and experience point to the supposition that I am probably an excellent driver.  Nope, I am a realist and just an OK driver.

I have known and currently know much better drivers than myself.  I have been going to a local indoor cart track to get schooled by some coworkers.  We have a couple of guys on staff that are great drivers and I would like to be better than I currently am.  If you want to be rich, hang out with rich people and copy what they do.  If you want to be a good driver…

Working on my day off

The house remodel seems to never end…  I will be so glad to just be and live in our space at some point.  We are close, but there are still details left undone – enough that I am trying to concentrate on one room at a time.  My plan is to get each done in turn and then move on to the next.  I wasn’t as successful at that as I wanted to be this weekend as I bounced back and forth between the living room and our bedroom closet, but I did get a ton done.

I installed the upper shelves and corner shelf in the walk-in closet, laminating two layers of 3/4″ plywood for really strong support over a 54″ span and in the unsupported corner.  In addition to using copious amount of glue and screws, I attached the butted plywood edges together with wood biscuits – it is always a fine day when I get to crank up the biscuit joiner.

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Almost a year ago, I sourced some corner shelves at one of the local architectural salvage places for less than $200 – far cheaper than what it would have taken me to build them.  They came out of a 1930-40’s house and were painted Christmas colors, but I knew that they would be perfect for our living room, which was stripped of its built-ins at some point in the last 88 years.  They have sat in storage and until this past week when I pulled them out and got some material together to permanently mount them.  Stamps-With-Foot helped me set them in place after I built sturdy bases.  Each of them cover a wall plug, so I am in the process of re-routing the receptacle using armored cable.  I also have to build in an air-return duct under one and that has taken some serious brain power to get right.  I will add trim this week and my wife and Mother-in-law will paint them cabinet white this weekend.

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While I was at it, I punched out a rubber washer for a pot lid knob.  I made the knob a couple years ago out of some scrap cherry firewood after the original plastic one broke.  The original washer had corroded, so I made a new one and installed it.

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I also took a couple minutes to mount the red glass post topper on the back fence.  It was ordered (along with a spare) months ago and have meant to put it on every weekend since.  There is always an excuse for why I didn’t, so I marched right out first thing Saturday with a tube of clear silicone and finally just got it done.  It is the little victories that keep me going.

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A Walk-in Closet for My Wife

As part of the now 10 month rehab, remodel, rebuild of our house my wife wanted some space to hang her clothes and put her shoes and boots that was not an afterthought.  A place that, for once was not crammed or disorganized and was purpose built.  It was decided that we turn a small bedroom/office into a walk-in closet.

I sketched out a few ideas in my notebook and went over them with her.  She removed a large shoe rack and opted for more clothes bar space.  She also wanted a bunch of drawers to store smaller stuff in.  I initially drew everything with a built in dresser, but changed it a little and made room for a free-standing French dresser made in Revel in the 1930’s that we acquired while living in Toulouse. There is 27 feet of linear hanging space using iron pipe (no sag), 24+ shoe cubbies, shelves, drawers, storage, and two full length mirrors.

I spent most of this past weekend getting the flat panel section dividers up, installing the clothes bars and adding top shelves.  There are three areas that are made for off-season storage: coats in the summers/short sleeves in the winter.  For these spaces, I decided to line one wall each with cedar.  While some people might line the whole closet with cedar, I would advise against it unless you and your significant other wants to smell like a lumberjack constantly.  Too much and the smell, while pleasing for me, pervades everything.

I lined two of the three spaces this weekend and got to use my old-school hand miter saw. While manual, it is faster to use in the closet – no dragging in a stand and cords and creates a LOT less dust than my big power Bosch miter saw.

I still need to add shelving on one side, put up all of the upper and lower panel trim, fill my nail holes, sand, paint, and bring the dresser in, but the space is usable and has allowed us to unpack all the boxes that have sat in our bedroom full of clothes. I will take the clothes back out on the day that I sand and paint.

Here is the progress to this point:

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Using My Dad’s Tools

In 1982 or 1983 my dad made me a ball, bat, and glove rack for Christmas. I was super into baseball and it was cool to have your gear up on the wall ready and waiting for you to be able to grab it all and run out the door to a game at a moments notice. Getting the pocket for the ball cut correctly and rounding over all the edges and corners took him forever. He decided that he HAD to have a router and for that same Christmas, my mom bought him a Craftsman 1-1/2 HP, Model #315.17492 Double Insulated router. He was as happy as a puppy with a new bone and looked for stuff to round over, “ease the edge…” everywhere in our lives for months. He was so proud of that router and for years a wood project around the house wasn’t complete until it had been kissed by a 1/4′ shank bit, whirling at 25,000 RPM.

When my dad passed, I got all his tools and the router was part of the deal. I have used it for years and while it is a little funky to adjust and has a base that isn’t perfectly round, it still does a fine job of “easing the edge” on shelves and cabinets. For the most part I use a 1/2 or 3/4 round-over bit in it and use my trim router for 1/4 and 1/8 round overs. Technology has much improved since the early ’80s and I have other routers to do fancy stuff these days but, Daddy’s still gets used a good bit.

I few years ago I had a garage break-in and a bunch of tools were stolen. I lost a lot of Daddy’s wrenches, power tools, my grandfather’s chisels, all sorts of stuff, but the big funky router happened to be in the basement where I had left it sitting for weeks on a long undone project. I am thankful it didn’t end up in a pawnshop somewhere and I am still able to use it to do a little work and connect with my dad, all these years later, just by using the router that he so badly wanted. I used Daddy’s router today, while building a walk-in closet for my wife. I thought about my dad, his smile, his quiet manner, and his patient love for his small son.

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Not quite how he planned it…

My son, The Ruminator, has decided it would be cool for him and I to rebuild a classic ’60s or ’70s muscle car. He has gone full-salesman mode:  preparatory text messages about how my day was going, asking about garage progress, asking about the results of a recent work trip…  then BAM!

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The desire is strong, but the understanding in lacking in my progeny.

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He has gone full salesman and used the “father/son/together/memories” angle.  Now we are going to pause here and discuss my deal with my children about cars…  I will not buy them a car.  The deal I had with my daughter, LOL, is that I would give her a down payment for a car when she started college or a trade school.  Not that I would finance or buy one for her.  That is the deal she got.  As I am all about fairness and egality, my son got the same offer.  Though, I did tell him that I would match funds – WHEN HE STARTED COLLEGE or trade school – if he managed to not spend every single cent that hit his pocket.  This was not over and above the offer to my daughter.  It was an attempt to get him to save some money and not blow it all.  I also mentioned that if he lived in Seattle for college, that I wouldn’t mind rebuilding a car with him.  You need to understand that conversation revolved around a Monster-Miata build: shoe-horning a 351 crate engine into a hardtop Miata for me, as my garage queen, that he would get to drive “occasionally” when the weather was nice, in the summer… Now, that discussion has morphed into “We are going to buy and rebuild HIM a classic muscle car.”  Huh?

I am not the kind of father that crushes my children’s dreams with things like details and I can see that there is opportunity for me to enjoy this conversation, so I went forward when he continued his negotiation a couple of days later:

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Man, he threw in the gruff, cantankerous old dad with a heart of gold one finds only in a SitCom angle…  He is either really good or getting help.  I countered with a baited hook of my own and then BAM!!

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I offered up a Pinto, Pacer, or sweet Gremlin. Mwahahahahaha!!!  He stepped right into the trap – Bwahahahaha!!

 

New yellow Mustard-Monster Lathe up and running

When building The F-Bomb Garage, I bought some new tools in which to fill it.  One of those hunks of iron delight was a Powermatic PM3520b wood lathe with a bed extension and lots of accessories.  It was a replacement for the three lathes of varying sizes I had sold before the original garage was torn down. I didn’t have the room or desire to store equipment that I wanted to upgrade anyway.  The new lathe had been boxed up for 4 months waiting for me to clear some room, unpack boxes, and for the power to be hooked up.

I spent all of Saturday afternoon, the weekend after power was finally turned on,  putting together my sweet lathe. The thing is a beast, so I had to start out with the bed upside down and install the legs.  I carefully rolled it on its side after all the leg bolts were torqued down and girded up my loins for some heavy lifting.  Now, what I should of done was hook a block and tackle to the rafters and pulled it up right, but I am hard-headed, so I put on wrist straps and dead-lifted the bed onto a 2′ wood block.  Then, after psyching myself up a little, I lifted it the rest of the way vertical.  If my sweet wife would have caught me, she would have said dirty words and i would have been in serious – grounded form the shop – trouble.

Anyway, after the base was upright, the head-stock/motor, banjo (tool rest holder), and tail-stock went on.  I installed the 18″ bed extension while I was at it and made sure to check everything over one more time.

It is 710lbs of mustard-yellow sexy.

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