Monday, November 8, 2010

Chap Hop Bout

Well then. I shudder to think of how long it has been since I posted something here. :shudder:: Now that I've gotten that out of the way, I will share something that brought a bit of humor to my day...

First, if you have no idea what Chap Hop is, then I recommend you watch the next video to get the fast introduction:

If your musical tastes are anything like mine, you took a perverse pleasure in that! Now that you've had a brief encounter with Chap Hop, watch this:

Professor Elemental has thrown down the gauntlet and I sincerely hope Mr. B The Gentleman Rhymer comes out of his corner with gloves on and in good form.

Gentlemen Rhymers, this bout is abiding by Queensberry Rules, and I expect a few rounds before the match is called. Fight!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Update Update

I don't know about you all, but some days it can really suck being busy. Too busy, that is, to really get out and participate in that thing called "life". I have been working some long-ish days lately and, by the time I get home, my brain is threatening to leak out of my ears as some over-used liquid (or a gel). By the time the weekend rolls around, I am more interested in spending time being with my family and friends or working on the backyard... more interested in that than updating the blog. Yes, it has suffered a bit. It seems that family and friends who are more distant have suffered a bit as well, so I felt it was due time to update the blog to include everyone in the happenings.

Work - Yes, my job has its rewards, but when too much work stacks up—for a myriad reasons—it can be a bit stressful, if not downright painful. I'm chugging through things, delegating tasks, outsourcing others, and have even identified a new position I need to fill. (The Muse says I must stop talking about work... so I will comply)

Family - My wife is done teaching for the year and is moving to a different (and I daresay more affluent) school. A good summer's rest has been well earned. Our son is transferring schools to now attend the same school my wife teaches at. This should save time for everyone! He is enjoying Taekwondo classes, now on his second colored belt.

Friends - Among the "guys" (which also happens to include the wives/fiancees/girlfriends) we have been drawn closer by the sudden death of Shawn. We don't yet know why, but hopefully that will come in due time. "Fenn", you're missed! Everyone else, please know you can share whatever is on your mind!

Projects - ACK!!! A list of what is perhaps the meat of this post—or merely an "index" of posts to come—here is what I'm doing as a bit of stress relief:
  • Fountain - The fountain is nearly complete, requiring some adjustments to the "return" pump gallons per minute as well as the float switch that serves as a safety to prevent the pump from emptying the fountain into the alley behind our property.
  • Backyard landscaping - Thanks to a lot of pent up stress in need of some form of release, as well as some much needed help from Sterling Landcare Co., the yard is getting closer to completion. The patio needs to be leveled with a final layer of decomposed granite before I can set the bluestone and bricks. Nearby, the vegetable and herb garden is several weeks old and starting to offer up its bounty (a bit), netting us strawberries, sweet basil, and French marjoram. Green bell peppers, eggplant, butternut squash, baking pumpkins (probably too many), leeks, zucchini, chamomile, spearmint, and pineapple mint are all still settling in. Other plants will be added as we complete the entire garden plot... it's probably about 20% built out. (I've even considered aquaponics to conjoin the fountain/fish pond and the garden... and then slapped myself for considering another complex backyard project)
  • Coldbox - Okay, so there's not a lot of progress here, but I keep considering a few tweaks here and there... better hinges, a furred out frame on the latch side, finish work on the hinge-side frame, a better cooling system (or at least a way to fully chill the kegs separate from the bottle cellar), vintage temperature guages, and quick disconnects for all the keg lines.
  • Bar - Now that the cabinetry is in, it's easier to see the shape. With a mini-refrigerator inside, plus a wine 'fridge and the cellar next to it, the beverage supply is handled. I need to complete what would normally be the drip tray system (but in my case is an assembly of copper piping and assorted fittings) to manage any stray drips and runoff. I also have to get a bunch of hardware from various sources... enough info on this to be it's own post... like several of these items
  • Tools - My 1960-vintage Shopsmith Mark V, the most important tool in my shop, broke about three months ago. I've been so damn busy that it took me until this week to order and receive the pieces I need to get it back up and running. I'm looking forward to fixing it on Saturday... after I spend the day at work cutting over to a new SQL cluster.
  • Beers - Sure, I've posted some tasting notes here and there, but I've been pretty lax about that. Sorry. Usually by the time I'm done drinking them, I don't feel like posting about them (or maybe just can't see myself focusing long enough on the weaving keyboard and shifting screen to actually complete it). I will do better on this. I've got more tools at my disposal now, so it should not be as difficult (or at least I'll have fewer excuses).
  • Music - I have been neglecting this area worse than most others. Sure, I love music, but I have so much that getting new music hasn't been a priority. However, I did find time to see a Beats Antique and The Mutaytor show at the Belly Up Tavern. I bought a couple of CDs while there and will have to share some of that—as well as other great music—through now that I have an account. I also got Abney Park's "Aether Shanties" for Christmas (thanks Hon) to go with my nearly complete "Vault" collection of Abney Park tunes. Other stuff has been catching my ear now wand then.
  • House remodel planning(!) - yeah, me ("Iron Man") and my family are in the process of planning for a remodel. The house needs some repairs and there are certain things that we just simply don't like, so we're going to fix them. The "new" portion of the house will get a complete overhaul, becoming a two story structure that looks like it has always been part of the house... as opposed to the strange collision between an 1895 Victorian farmhouse that is being "violated" by a 1970's California ranch.
That should... wait... I forgot "Miscellaneous", normally the largest section! ::sheesh:: I could go on for a very long time, but I'll stick to the immediate future:
  • building my first steampunk computer keyboard. It's been sitting dormant for about four or five months, but I started tinkering with it in the late nights lately. I like the progress.
  • restoring my rolltop desk, while hiding a full computer in it, and modifying some monitors to look like they have been part of the workstation since the 1890s. I hope to add more surround speakers and enough gadgetry to make H. G. Wells' spirit grin.
  • building some steampunk speaker stands for the Sapphire and Onkyo surround speakers on my Onkyo 7.1 system. The prototype looks good so far, but needs some additional wood, brass, gilding, and finishwork to be complete. I may have to add an amp to get the "B" 5.1 speakers online too.
  • refinishing the old chess table that keeps getting thumped by my left elbow tonight
  • getting the Liberty & Company Thebes Stool professionally repaired, restored, and refinished (and completing my amateur reproduction, now that I have my Shopsmith parts)
  • determining if the inherited '60s/'70s era rocker is an early Maloof piece or not... either way, I like it.
  • rigging up the temporary home theater in the studio (so we can have TV and movie entertainment up there while the house is being remodeled)
  • building the faux beams and arches for the studio, incorporating the mid-twentieth century Marcus Designs statues I picked up at a local antique shop.
  • converting another oak whiskey barrel into the studio bathroom's sink pedestal (complete with new glass "bowl-style" sink.

    ...and the most important step...
  • converting the studio over to a temporary living space for the family while we remodel the house
::whew:: that should cover it. I'll post more info on each of these as another form of stress relief over the next several weeks/months.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Project: Cold Box, pt 2 & Bar, pt 1

It's been a while since I posted anything on the status of my projects. Since I have so many "irons in the fire" that one of my friends has started calling me "Iron Man", I'll share just one... well, maybe two... in a way: the "Cold Box" Project and the associated bar.

A lot has happened since I last posted anything about the cold box project. The exterior got some drywall, "mud", and preliminary decoration. I drilled a few holes in the insulated panels so I could route CO2 and beer lines through the wall and out of the barrel ends. Well, the gas is currently sitting behind the bar and will eventually end up inside the bar... or given a Victorian treatment and displayed proudly as part of the bar.
At present, those two faucets are pouring Arrogant Bastard Ale and Stone India Pale Ale. The parts list is currently:
  • Oak barrel - since the barrel was no longer liquid-tight, I got it free. With the ends cut off and glued up, they make nice ornaments for a bar.
  • Faucets - the brass finish faucets come from Micromatic, as do all the other pieces and parts behind the scenes.
  • Tap handles - the handles are just that... antique door handles with a threaded hole that just so happened to be the same thread as the handle mount. They were found in a box in my garage when we bought our house.
  • Kerosene lamps - they were a cheap $3.00 find at Goodwill.
  • "Tool holder" - really, it's a matchstick holder for a fireplace. Again, a cheap find at $1.00. I repurposed it for the bar to hold a bottle opener, a corkscrew, and a "sporkener" I picked up at Magic Hat brewing Co. on my last vacation.
  • Railroad lantern - This was a Christmas gift from my grandfather. It has been converted from kerosene to electricity, but it is still really cool. Thanks Grandpa!
The bar itself is currently made up of three unfinished oak base cabinets I picked up at Lowe's (reasonably priced). The bar top is currently two massive slabs of mahogany I salvaged from an old pallet. Yeah. An old pallet. From France. Circa 1945. The pieces that make up the bar surface are 65" x 15.5" x 3". The bar's "arm rest" is made of the other two sides of the ol' rectangular pallet. They're a bit smaller at 64" x 7" x 3". I've resawed them into the front and side cantilevered raised section of the bar. Interestingly enough, these smaller pieces have some significant wear and weathering that, when combined with small amounts of dryrot and insect damage, give the surface the appearance of many years of service in the bar. Perfect!

The front of the bar (the ugly back of the cabinets) is currently obscured by two cherry veneer covered desk ends. As things progress, they will be replaced by some salvaged oak 4" x 6" posts and 2" x 6" planks. The mahogany will be finished with oil and a light sealant. All the oak will probably get a stain to complement the mahogany... unless it looks better oiled and sealed too.

What you can't see in the photos above are the other details I have planned. As of this writing, I anticipate building a canopy over the bar to store glasses, show off some sort of stained glass, and provide the requisite moody task lighting (like the example at right). I haven't selected the posts quite yet, as they need to be stout.

Around the outer edge of the cantilevered section of the bar, a band of LED lighting will provide more accent lighting. I don't know if I will mount it inside of some polished brass or copper tubing, but I'm considering it.

Where the cantilevered area joins the rest of the bar top, I will install some brass strips I found on our property. I stumbled across two large pieces of brass; the biggest, at 44" x 1.75" x 3/16" (with a shorter brazed-on 'L' section) will allow me to put an edging to provide more visual interest. The second piece of brass is close to the first in dimensions, but was found buried in the backyard; a significant (though not impossible to remove) coating of corrosion leaves me wondering what I will end up doing with it.

More later as the work progresses. I'll share updates in "Project: Bar, pt 2".

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Got Disk?

I'm gonna geek-out about some computers, so please bear with me.

Some servers were delivered to work the other day... two Dell PowerVault MD1000s "tethered" to two Dell PowerVault NF600s. We're using one of these as a disk target for our backup systems and the other as an offsite mirror.

What does this add up to? Well, take a look at the pictures and follow along with me:
  • NF600 - fully populated with eight 1Tb
  • MD1000 - fully populated with fifteen 1Tb drives
  • That subtotals - 23Tb
  • Multiply that times two, since we got a matched pair - that's a whopping 46Tb
Now I know some of you may have more disk space in your server room(s), but this is a step up for me and my crew.