Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Project Central

Happy Wednesday everybody, it's more gloom and doom as far as the weather goes. I think I saw a ray of sunshine last weekend, but it might have been someone's high beams. They're predicting a warm and (partly) sunny weekend, ideal for soaking up some UV light for some homemade Vitamin D.

JO's Porch Project

Last weekend I went out to the Albany area to help JO dig some holes. We had 10 holes that needed digging, and the concrete with which to fill them. By about 10:00 in the morning we had laid out holes for the piers and fired up the rental auger. Before digging, we carefully noted the location of the cable and phone lines.

About 4 inches into the soft, sandy soil the auger stopped spinning. We pushed, pulled, swore and nothing seemed to work. Finally JO called up Home Depot to see if they could tell us how to get the damned thing going. The guy on the other end recommended we bring it back in. Nothing slows a project more than making unnecessary trips to the Despot (besides weather, I guess) so we pulled it out and examined everything.

As it turns out, there's an abandoned cable line running right through the deck area. What are the odds that we'd hit it on the first hole? With that behind us, we pressed on.

Yadda yadda yadda.

By the end of the night we had all 10 piers dug, leveled, plumbed, poured, and the tools put away. The next step is to frame that bad boy up. That'll be this Saturday's project.

Oh, the best part is JO's dad thought I was a contractor. It just goes to show you that I know my shit and have that take charge personality. The fact that I brought my running (construction worker looking) vest with me just in case some ladies needed impressing might have helped a little.

This weekend we're going to get it framed - and hopefully decked - up. I even treated myself to a new hammer and tool belt for the occasion. What!?

Oh, and My Own House

In the mail yesterday was a post card from my dear sister. Thanks Ab, it's on the fridge awaiting a better location. In addition to that I also received the paperwork from the bank for my home equity line of credit. Check! I promptly tore the plastic off all of my downstairs windows (the only old ones left) and measured those beasts up.

On my way home from work today, I stopped off at the Home Despot and placed a loan denting order for 7 new windows (12 months interest free, thank you very much). While I was at it I picked up a storm door for the front door. I can't wait to be able to get that breeze coming through that door. I've been in this house for almost 5 years and have yet to be able to get a decent breeze through the place.

Can you say "Summer of Todd, Volume II"? I thought so.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Homebrew for the Caffeineaholic

As I mentioned in my post from about 15 minutes ago, I have been enjoying the fruits of my new espresso machine. I'd like to take a minute to tell you about it.

Me Like Moka, A-Latte

After doing some extensive research, I found the Moka Express, a stovetop espresso maker they claim is found in every kitchen in Italy. Maybe not this brand, but at least this style. What's best is that many reviewers claim this makes the best espresso of any espresso maker under $500. And it only set me back $20!

You add water to the bottom, grounds to the funnel-looking filter, screw it together and put some heat to it. In about 5 minutes you have 6 delicious cups of espresso (6-1.5 oz cups, that is).

Once brewed, you can add frothed hot milk for a delicious cappuccino/latte or drink it straight up. I'm not hardcore enough to drink it straight up, but in a latte it is deLISH.

Where do you get frothed milk? you may ask. I have at my disposal an electric milk frother. It's a little spinning whisk akin to the one in the picture below. In about 15 seconds it whips your hot milk into frothy form, which you pour over your espresso. Top with the foam from the frothed milk and you have a barista quality drink right in your own kitchen. YUM!

So anyway, that's what I've been up to this morning. In fact, I think I'm going to make some more.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

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Snow Falling on Cedars

I once read the book (which I believe was made into a movie) "Snow Falling on Cedars", and was fairly disappointed to find that it wasn't about cedars at all. Okay, maybe that was a metaphor or something but the book itself was really good. But that's not what I'm here to discuss.

Gentlemen, Start Your Shovels

I awoke this morning after a long and restful (and well-deserved) sleep. I pre-fed the cats last night so they would leave me alone this morning and nestled into my cozy bed around midnight.

I had spent the day out at JO's house digging holes, measuring Sonotubes, carrying concrete bags, leveling, re-leveling, thrice-checking the levels, backfilling, etc. until my poor lower back was aching. Then I slammed half a pizza and hit the road. I'm usually pretty good on the road, even at night, but last night I came scarily close to falling asleep at the wheel. Maybe it was the short sleep the night before, or the hours of backbreaking manual labor (for which my desk job does not adequately prepare me), or the half a pie I ate. Whatever the reason, I really should have accepted the offer to crash at the O's house. Lesson learned? I think not. I love sleeping in my own bed too much.

I'm not going to get too much into it because most of you won't care, but trying to build a deck to code when your door is only a step above the ground is practically impossible. Forget any traditional techniques for doing anything and pick up a shovel. The one good thing about the job was that we hit one, count it, one rock. I dug two holes for my deck last summer and hit a rock every 3 inches. This was like digging on the beach, except it was cold and we had a gas-powered auger instead of a plastic shovel, but you get the point.

Anywho, I awoke this morning to the distinct sound of snow falling outside. Traffic sounds different and I could hear the tink-tink of the dinner plate sized flakes pounding my windows. I've been sitting in my recliner all morning, sipping homemade cappuccino and watching snow fall on the cedars outside my window. It's very relaxing except for the fact that it's April 15th and it's still snowing. My last post, dated April 1st, discussed how I was going to go for a bike ride but instead worked out in the yard in shorts and a t-shirt. Today I probably won't leave the house, except maybe to bring in some firewood.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Quck with the Hands

Since it's Sunday evening I thought I'd update you fine folks with what I've been up to. Yesterday involved a lot of lounging, for reasons I'll explain briefly. Today I actually slept in for the first time in many moons and it felt great. So, on to the reasons for lounging.

Steady Lounging

Thursday night I was headed for the shower when I heard my phone ring. I wasn't expecting any calls at that hour (9:00, which is late-ish for this guy). I checked to see who was calling and it was unavailable. Great, I booked it across the house butt ass neckid for a telemarketer.

When I got out of the shower I found that it was in fact my sister calling from Japan. I quickly busted out her phone numbers and set forth trying to figure out how to call internationally. The second time was the charm.

We ended up talking about this and that until about 12:30 when I had to put an end to the conversation. I could have talked forever if I didn't have to work in the morning.

Friday night I made the long trip out to Northampton to visit Trader Joes. It had been talked up like it was the greatest thing since sliced bread, and for the most part it lived up to the hype. I could have used about twice as much store, but the stuff they have is pretty dope. Between the two hours of driving, shopping, dinner, walking around Northampton I didn't get home until pretty late.

Saturday morning I awoke before the birds to meet up with some folks for the week's long run. We kicked back 13.33 (repeating, of course) miles in roughly 2 hrs. Being as tired as I was, and as dehydrated as one can be after drinking coffee all day the day before and not having and water, I was a hurting unit. I pretty much read and slept away the rest of the day. There was a short trip to Dick's for cycling shorts and Crocs.

As it turns out, the Crocs are still too small and I have to hook up a pair of XXLs. I don't like the idea of wearing XXL anything, but I guess shoes are okay.

But anyway, the reason I was so tired all weekend was because I stayed up late Thursday and Friday night and got up early the following days.

Riding at High Noon

Today was supposed to involve the first bike ride of the season. I bought new shorts, gave my bike a quick once-over, put all of my accessories in the back of my A-ride and put a bike rack on the roof. As the morning drew on, everyone else bagged the ride and around 12:30 I went out to work on the lawn. I won't bore you with the details; it involved primarily raking.


Months ago I picked up a Rubik's Cube with the intention of learning how to solve it. I know that there is really know way to solve it without memorizing algorithms (algoritha?), and that's fine with me. It's still something that most people can't do and it takes a good mind for spatial reasoning to solve, so back off haters.

Today, after a few hours of toying with it and learning some simple techniques (and following some not-so-simple algorithms), I SOLVED A RUBIK'S CUBE! I didn't have to remove any stickers or rearrange the cubies (that's cuber speak for the little pieces on a Rubik's Cube).

I was surprised how quickly I was able to learn how to get through the first 2 layers of the solution I'm learning. There are a few techniques but for the most part you have to do the first two layers yourself, then follow the pattern to get to the finale. My brain picked it up pretty quickly, thank you very much TV Turnoff Month.

Well, it's time for this guy to get a few more rounds of Cubing down and get to bed. I'll holler at y'all later. Peace in the Northeast.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

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"Something inside of me just said 'Hey, wait a minute, I want to beat him.' and I just took off." -Pre