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.