'The true Soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because He loves what is behind him.' -G. K. Chesterton

31 August 2011

In Remembrance

It's been a year since you left us. I still miss you pal and I always will.

30 August 2011

Bathroom Remodel Part 3

We're getting there.

I finally finished patching all those pockmarks and holes in the walls. It involved gallons of drywall mud and hours of scraping and sanding.

This is a picture of the wiring for the switch and outlet that's currently behind the newly relocated door. Yeah. I called in an electrician. Gotta know one's limits.

Here they are moved and properly wired.I had him seperate them and installed a GFCI outlet for safety.

Floor's done and ready for finishing.

It's time to texture the walls and ceiling. First, a little about the tool and the mud. I bought a texture gun last year when we re-did the living room of the California house. It's a Homax. The mud is also Homax. No special reason, it's just what they had. (Yes, FCC. I bought and paid for all of it myself).

The gun is air powered. I run it from my small compressor. It's basically just a sprayer body with an extra large top feed to accept the large hopper. It has tips for small and large texture as well as popcorn, though why anyone would still do popcorn is beyond me.

The gun works great and it's a heck of a lot easier on the arms than a hand powered one. It'll do both walls and ceiling. It took me about 2 hours to finish 2 coats, of which the first hour was all set up and taping. I went pretty heavy because the walls needed so much repair and heavy texture covers a multitude of sins.

Next was some primer. We went with green primer as the final coat will also be green. I also wanted to see if there were any glaring issues that needed to be fixed prior to the final color. After the texture and primer I was happy with my work so far. It was time for some real paint. The color is Medium Sage. Lu did the painting while I focused on the floor and priming the hall (more on that later). I think it turned out pretty nice.

Since we were on a roll I decided to start the floor. This is Armstrong vinyl flooring. I comes in 36 inch by 4 inch 'planks'. Each plank connects to the others by adhesive strips but it is otherwise free floating. It cuts with a knife is easy to lay and is much harder than wood. We used this stuff in the California house and absolutely love it. (Yes, FCC. I bought and paid for it. Sigh.) Please forgive the blurry picture. I was tired.

I'll have more on the flooring in the next installment, which is the hall. That'll be in the next couple of days. We still need to do a light second coat in the bathroom and finish the floor there. I can't finish that floor until we get the hallway painted because the floor runs from the bathroom into the hall and we want to paint before we lay it. Once the paint and floor are done it's vanity, fixtures and trim. The hall has a weird architectural feature that's making baseboards a real issue. I hope I can find a solution.

It's starting to come together and looking like a real bathroom again. One of the upsides is the smell. We took out stuff that's been in there literally for 50 or 60 years. Full of things, substances and odors I don't want to dwell on too much. As that came out and we fixed and generally prepped the smell went from faintly bad to awful to clean. Loving it.

This video is a great illustration (though it's slightly silly) of the Broken Window argument used extensively in the liberal political world. I figured I'd share, cause why not? It's a good thing for everyone to remember.

~The DO

27 August 2011

Sunday Kipling

A classic on this warm Sunday. I hope those of you in the Hurricane's path are well. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

A Tale of Two Cities

Where the sober-colored cultivator smiles
On his byles;
Where the cholera, the cyclone, and the crow
Come and go;
Where the merchant deals in indigo and tea,
Hides and ghi;
Where the Babu drops inflammatory hints
In his prints;
Stands a City -- Charnock chose it -- packed away
Near a Bay --
By the Sewage rendered fetid, by the sewer
Made impure,
By the Sunderbunds unwholesome, by the swamp
Moist and damp;
And the City and the Viceroy, as we see,
Don't agree.
Once, two hundered years ago, the trader came
Meek and tame.
Where his timid foot first halted, there he stayed,
Till mere trade
Grew to Empire, and he sent his armies forth
South and North
Till the country from Peshawur to Ceylon
Was his own.
Thus the midday halt of Charnock -- more's the pity!
Grew a City.
As the fungus sprouts chaotic from its bed,
So it spread --
Chance-directed, chance-erected, laid and built
On the silt --
Palace, byre, hovel -- poverty and pride --
Side by side;
And, above the packed and pestilential town,
Death looked down.
But the Rulers in that City by the Sea
Turned to flee --
Fled, with each returning spring-tide from its ills
To the Hills.
From the clammy fogs of morning, from the blaze
Of old days,
From the sickness of the noontide, from the heat,
Beat retreat;
For the country from Peshawur to Ceylon
Was their own.
But the Merchant risked the perils of the Plain
For his gain.
Now the resting-place of Charnock, 'neath the palms,
Asks an alms,
And the burden of its lamentation is, Briefly, this:
"Because for certain months, we boil and stew,
So should you.
Cast the Viceroy and his Council, to perspire
In our fire!"
And for answer to the argument, in vain
We explain
That an amateur Saint Lawrence cannot fry:
"All must fry!"
That the Merchant risks the perils of the Plain
For gain.
Nor can Rulers rule a house that men grow rich in,
From its kitchen.
Let the Babu drop inflammatory hints
In his prints;
And mature -- consistent soul -- his plan for stealing
To Darjeeling:
Let the Merchant seek, who makes his silver pile,
England's isle;
Let the City Charnock pitched on -- evil day!
Go Her way.
Though the argosies of Asia at Her doors
Heap their stores,
Though Her enterprise and energy secure
Income sure,
Though "out-station orders punctually obeyed"
Swell Her trade --
Still, for rule, administration, and the rest,
Simla's best.

26 August 2011

Dog stays loyal

I'm not sure this link will work, when I saw it I cried like a baby.


Awesome NASA Video

It's an animation of a Black Hole eating a star 3.8 billion light years from Earth.


24 August 2011

Cops and Donuts

And from our humorous stereotype department we have

 Greek police bust violent donut ring.

You just can't make this kind of stuff up. Hey, if you can't laugh at yourself at least you can laugh at your profession. Go ahead, leave me a cops and donuts joke in the comments. I can take it.

I'll go first.

A policeman pulls a man over for speeding and asks him to get out of the car.

After looking the man over he says, "Sir, I couldn't help but notice your eyes are bloodshot. Have you been drinking?"

The man gets really indignant and says, "Officer, I couldn't help but notice your eyes are glazed. Have you been eating doughnuts?"

Come on, someone can surely do better than that groaner!


23 August 2011

Bathroom Remodel PT 2, Tile

Firat, take a look at what we took out of that bathroom. That's a trailer load and a full garbage can. It doesn't show the 2 other cans Waste management had already picked up. Out of one small bathroom.

Lu and I have this down to a science. I run the saw and do all the fitting while she lays the tile. I've got the tile saw just outside the bathroom window so she can holler measurements at me and I can cut to fit. The work goes surprisingly fast.

Tile's up. Not bad for a couple of rank amateur DIYers.

Now it's on to grout. We learned something. When it's 105 degrees out with humidity at zero, grout tends to dry fairly quickly. We ended up with me grouting just a few tiles at a time with Lu following and wiping immediately after. Even then the work went pretty quickly.

Before you could say "Man I hate this crap" the job was done.

And the finished product.
What's next? If you look at some of those photos you'll see walls that look like they've been through a Knob Creek shoot. I need to finish scraping the old linoleum off and then repair all those pock marks. Then comes texture, paint, trim and floor.

We picked up a vanity and sink at the Big Box store. It's a small bathroom so it needed a small vanity. That's it next to the drawers with the sink off to the left.
The tile was a big job, one we're glad to have completed. Wait, did I say completed? Turns out I have a cracked tile next to the faucet. It'll need to be removed and replaced. Sigh.

Maybe I should just go back to work and hire this stuff out.


22 August 2011

Freedom and Independence vs the Illusion of Safety

Is it just me, or have we forgotten how to be great? We've forgotten what freedom really means, we've forgotten how to rely on ourselves, and how to take care of others. We've forgotten how to work hard, and how to be creative. My opinion is that we have beaten the independence out of our society through fear tactics, leading to the almost total acceptance of a nanny state to "protect" us.

Let me explain:

In this modern era we have become fanatical about the "protection" of our kids. Every one says that "it's so much more dangerous now then it was in my day!" But is that really true? And does it necessitate the driving of 17 year olds to school every morning? It's no wonder we have an increasingly dependent society when we don't allow our children to grow up understanding what independence actually means.

According to the figure from the Department of Justice, via the FBI, it's most likely safer today then it was when I was a kid, even though the FBI keeps telling us that if we take our eyes off our kids they will obviously be taken from us. So, lets go over the numbers, shall we? I chose aggravated assault, as they don't have numbers tracking kidnapping. Kidnapping isn't assault, per-se, but as it is a physical attack by one person on another, it seemed to be the closest number by idea that was tracked. As my kids are 5 and 7, I decided to use 6 as an average age. The Six was 6 in 1965, I was 6 in 1985, and 2009 is the last year data is available. My oldest was 5, but, eh, close enough for government work right? So, here we go.

Year California population Assault Rate

1965 18,602,000 26,581 .14%

1985 26,365,000 101,185 .38%

2009 36,961,664 99,681 .27%

Population change between 1965 and 1985: +29%
change between 1985 and 2009: +29%

As anyone knows, statistics can be manipulated to show what ever you want them to show. I'm tracking something here that isn't exactly what I want, and it is an overview, and therefore tends towards generalizations. However, all that being said, what I see up there is that when I was a kid I was more likely to be victimized, by statistics, then my kids are now if we moved back to Cali. Generalizations aside, my point is that we are always more concerned with the safety of our children then we are about ourselves. We have the view that we can take care of ourselves, yet our children are on the verge of catastrophe. Understandable, perhaps, but destructive when that fear is taken to an extreme.

There is a website that I follow that helps to confront this alarming trend, FreeRangeKids. On there I learned about a town that has made it law that kids under 12 cannot be outside of the family yard without a parent. I've not verified that information, but it doesn't surprise me. I was inspired to write this post as I'm sitting on an AF base, listening to silence in my hotel room. It's silent in here because my kids are outside playing. They went down the elevator, by themselves, to the park outside. They know the boundaries of where to go, and where not to. Last night they came back up of their own accord for dinner, and again for bed. They keep an electronic card safe in a pocket, they make it through a card reader security door, and up the elevator. In an era where seniors in high school still get driven to school by Momma, this is an oddity. And yet it is also killing us. There are more and more studies coming to the conclusion that the lifestyle we currently lead is causing a number of catastrophic issues to befall our kids, some of which is just as destructive as the feared kidnapping would be. The above links are just three that cover just vitamin D, and they cover areas from MS to autism to bone health. Vitamin D, the vitamin your skin makes from exposure to the sun, is dangerously deficient in most Americans, and our kids are suffering for it. My own kids show symptoms, and I'm in the process of changing our actions to attempt to better their health.

Beyond the danger of a lack of sun exposure lies other issues. Obesity, lack of imagination, over dependence on electronics and parents, and a lack of social development are all connected to being on leash at all times. Social interactions (interactions with kids outside their age group, social interactions without an adult leader, interpersonal problem solving without adult interaction, conceptualizing group dynamics, development of leadership abilities without adult leadership), gaining insight into others actions (learning who is dangerous, and why, learning how to avoid dangerous situations, learning how not to be a victim), problem solving (how do I climb a tree? how do i get my ball out of the tree? how do i play in this same area in a new way, cause I'm bored?), and the most important thing our kids are losing: how to be independent, and how to want to be independent.

We teach our kids that they need us, and without us they are in danger. Except then we are angry that they won't leave the damned house already! Well, duh, they were never transitioned into not needing an adult. In the past there have been social ways to tell a kid how and when to transition from their parents, and it happened at a fairly early age. How many people over the age of 40 talk about their childhoods in terms of where they wandered, on their own, and with whom? It wasn't with Mom and Dad, it was with the neighborhood kids. In my generation, I still rode down to the park on my own, and yet the school bus refused to let me off at that same park because it was on the other side of the street from my house. I had to wait to the very last stop so they could drop me off on my side. God forbid I cross a street at the age of 10.

I still fight the how of the problem. I live in Hungary, a decidedly scary place in idea for me. The cold war ideas of the East still linger in my mind. Fear of my kids being abducted still linger in my mind. So how do I move past this fear? One step at a time, I suppose. We will only be in Hungary for another 6 months, 2 of which will be snowy. I'm not all that keen on my kids walking to the park on icy streets on their own just yet, so that leaves the next 4. Part of my fear in Hungary is also the language issues. Back home if the kids run into problems they can communicate with a near adult. Here they are on their own, as most likely any adult they com into contact with won't understand them. The third issue I have is the dogs. Though the dogs are behind gates, they are all trained to be very aggressive, and even make me nervous. They seriously bother my youngest and I certainly don't want him to be terrorized into disliking dogs!

So, I understand that there aren't always perfect answers to all questions or problems, but there are certainly better answers then putting out kids into perpetual jail. Kids deserve freedom, and they deserve to gain their independence. It is their birthright and I owe it to them.

It is easy to see how this institutionalizing of "safety" has caused an entire country to assume that they can't take care of themselves, and that no one else can either. We need the government, you see, just like children need adults. I'm sorry, but the last time I looked my Daddy stopped holding my hand. I don't need the government to take his place.

As a follow up on both the FBI statistics, and the idea of kid safety, FreeRangeKids wrote a great article on child abductions not too long ago. It's a great read, and it piggy backs on the idea that we are fighting here, that American's somehow need a government program to save them from the dangers of society. Really, society isn't all that dangerous. All the government is doing is to make is SEEM more scary then it actually is. If I think too much about the laws that steal my kids childhood from them I get, er, rather irate.

~The DO

21 August 2011

Sunday Kipling

A very good Sunday to you all. Lu and i are taking today off. Naps, play time with Angus and maybe meat cooked over an open fire.

The Grave of the Hundred Head

There's a widow in sleepy Chester
Who weeps for her only son;
There's a grave on the Pabeng River,
A grave that the Burmans shun;
And there's Subadar Prag Tewarri
Who tells how the work was done.

A Snider squibbed in the jungle,
Somebody laughed and fled,
And the men of the First Shikaris
Picked up their Subaltern dead,
With a big blue mark in his forehead
And the back blown out of his head.

Subadar Prag Tewarri,
Jemadar Hira Lal,
Took command of the party,
Twenty rifles in all,
Marched them down to the river
As the day was beginning to fall.

They buried the boy by the river,
A blanket over his face
They wept for their dead Lieutenant,
The men of an alien race
They made a samadh in his honor,
A mark for his resting-place.

For they swore by the Holy Water,
They swore by the salt they ate,
That the soul of Lieutenant Eshmitt Sahib
Should go to his God in state,
With fifty file of Burmans
To open him Heaven's gate.

The men of the First Shikaris
Marched till the break of day,
Till they came to the rebel village,
The village of Pabengmay
A jingal covered the clearing,
Calthrops hampered the way.

Subadar Prag Tewarri,
Bidding them load with ball,
Halted a dozen rifles
Under the village wall;
Sent out a flanking-party
With Jemadar Hira Lal.

The men of the First Shikaris
Shouted and smote and slew,
Turning the grinning jingal
On to the howling crew.
The Jemadar's flanking-party
Butchered the folk who flew.

Long was the morn of slaughter,
Long was the list of slain,
Five score heads were taken,
Five score heads and twain;
And the men of the First Shickaris
Went back to their grave again,

Each man bearing a basket
Red as his palms that day,
Red as the blazing village
The village of Pabengmay,
And the "drip-drip-drip" from the baskets
Reddened the grass by the way.

They made a pile of their trophies
High as a tall man's chin,
Head upon head distorted,
Set in a sightless grin,
Anger and pain and terror
Stamped on the smoke-scorched skin.

Subadar Prag Tewarri
Put the head of the Boh
On the top of the mound of triumph,
The head of his son below
With the sword and the peacock-banner
That the world might behold and know.

Thus the samadh was perfect,
Thus was the lesson plain
Of the wrath of the First Shikaris
The price of a white man slain;
And the men of the First Shikaris
Went back into camp again.

Then a silence came to the river,
A hush fell over the shore,
And Bohs that were brave departed,
And Sniders squibbed no more;
For the Burmans said
That a white man's head
Must be paid for with heads five-score.

There's a widow in sleepy Chester
Who weeps for her only son;
There's a grave on the Pabeng River,
A grave that the Burmans shun;
And there's Subadar Prag Tewarri
Who tells how the work was done.

20 August 2011

Apparently 'Angus' Is Short For Mischevious

Lu and I are currently in the process of a bathroom renovation. We've gotten some Small Black Dog help along the way, usually followed by entreaties to "Drop That" or "Could You Please Move" and the like. After one work day I exited to find this in the living room.

Uh oh. That can't be good. Further exploration revealed to extent of the crime.

And the culprit.

He pled insanity and threw himself on the mercy of the court. A criminal mastermind he ain't.


17 August 2011

Officer Jeremy Henwood

The next time you see video of misconduct or hear about such please remember officer Jeremy Henwood. There are so many more just like him out there.
Well done my brother. We are so very proud of you.

Rest easy, we've got it from here.

16 August 2011

Bathroom Remodel Pt. 1

You know sometimes, when you've got a nasty job you need to do but really don't want to, it's better to just jump in one day and get started. Well, Lu and I have this bathroom that is badly in need of upgrading. It looked like this.
Aqua-ish 4 inch tiles. A vanity 7 times bigger than is needed (seriously, when you sit on the can your knees hit the thing). Linoleum that was outdated in the 50's and is coming up at the edges. Something had to be done.

Yes, yes he's cute and improves any room he's in just by dint of his preciousness but we needed something just a bit more concrete.

Enter The Destructor. Three of the four walls in this bathroom are masonry. They were part of the original construction and were once outside walls. All but one are now interior walls. The tile job was interesting. This was done before the invention of concrete backer board. What they did was to nail metal mesh to the wall and apply a layer of concrete. It's very much like a stucco scratch coat. They then tiled as they went. It comes off only with difficulty. With most of it I had to painfully chip away the tile to expose the concrete behind.

Once I got enough chipped away I could get in behind the backer and start prying it off. In a shower of ceramic chips and concrete dust I might add.

Once enough was peeled away chunks could be removed. See the nice linoleum behind the concrete backer? Ugh.

I measured the backer/tile combo at just a hair under one inch. Consider the following.
The bathroom is 5' x 8'9" to the actual walls (not the tile). That's 60 inches x 105 inches. That gives us 6300 sq. inches or 43.75 sq. ft.
Take off 2 inches from both measurements for 58 x 103 inches. That's 5974 sq. inches or 41.48 sq. ft.
Just by removing the tile and backer I added 2 1/4 sq. feet to the floor plan. I love math.

Ok, tile and backer are down. Note the pockmarks in the walls. That's where they nailed up the metal mesh. It's ok around the tub, because we'll be tiling there, but the rest of the walls need to be repaired, scraped, sanded and prepped for texture and paint.

Most of the floor is out as well. I did have some help there.
 It's Small Black Dog to the rescue! I'm helping Daddy.

We tiled yesterday. Today it's grout and floor/wall surface prep. After prep we do texture, paint and then floor. We've picked out a nice, small vanity and some new lighting. Of course the light switch is behind the door and will have to be moved. Sheesh!

So how was your weekend? More pics as we progress.