'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

28 February 2013

Remodel Update - Starting Drywall

We finally finished installing the last window. It replaced what used to be another door onto the front porch.

After I took this photo we put up the foam insulation board. Eventually I'll stucco this section since sometime in the future all the siding will come down to be replaced with stucco. I hate doing stucco.

Speaking of hate. I also hate doing drywall but I'm also too cheap to hire it out. It's a balancing act. My distaste for finish work versus my innate unwillingness to pry open my wallet for anything I know I can do myself. We've only been at it for half a day and have one and a half walls covered. A professional could probably do both rooms in a day or two. I figure it'll take me and Lu about a week.

Still, it did give me an excuse to buy a new tool. I love tools.

More later this week. If we get the drywall done.


27 February 2013

2 Officers Killed In Santa Cruz California

Just a few miles north of my old hometown. The shooter was also killed after a 30 minute foot chase.

Detective Sergeant Loran 'Butch' Baker
Detective Elizabeth Butler

Car Guy called me to let me know today. He knew Sgt. Baker. A tough day for my brothers and sisters. Our thoughts and prayers go out to them and all their loved ones and friends.

End Of Watch 2-26-13.
Rest In Peace.


25 February 2013


A Navy buddy and I have been exchanging e-mails about his upcoming Sea deployment. It brought to mind a story I've been keeping to myself for almost 29 years. He liked it so I've decided the time is right to share it with you.

I was Artillery in the Army. In 1984 we went to Japan to exercise with the JGSDF in an exercise called Michinoku 84. We were there long enough to get a few weekends free. On one of our jaunts we went into the local city. For the life of me I can't remember it's name. I need to go back to my old journal and refresh my memory. Anyway, while there we did what all American tourists do I imagine. We hit a restaurant that looked like a little slice of home. A McDonalds. It was different. You ordered and then sat down and had the food delivered to the table. They served rice instead or french fries. There were at least a half dozen of us. Young, loud, hungry GIs, none of whom spoke a word of Japanese. After several minutes of pidgin English and wild gesticulations we were interrupted by an elderly Japanese gentleman. He got the gist of what we wanted and then shooed us off to a table. He placed our order and paid for the entire meal. It had to have cost him a bundle. Prices were high anyway and for beef they were outrageous. He came and sat with us, refusing all offers to pay him back. We talked as we ate and found out he'd been an Artillery officer in the Imperial Japanese Army during WWII. He'd seen combat. He spoke only broken English and we even less Japanese but we didn't need an interpreter. We spoke the same language, common among those who have made their living in uniform. It was a conversation I will always remember. He was honoring us and in his way paying homage to his own service and those men he'd left behind. It was a perfect moment, the kind that comes along but once in a lifetime if one is very, very fortunate. A bunch of young American soldiers being regaled with stories about another bunch of once young soldiers who had done their duty as they saw it. He was a proud man and it showed. In my later years, after age had granted me a modicum of wisdom, I understood that he was also teaching a lesson only those who have seen the elephant can understand. Under the uniform we are all the same. Warriors all. That bond can be found in the most unlikely places. Even a McDonalds in the middle of a nation that was once the bitterest of enemies.

I have no idea why he was moved to do what he did. No, that's not true. I know exactly what motivated him. I feel it even now as age begins it's inexorable pull on me. He saw a chance to educate, to give back to the next generation no matter the uniform and to keep the memory of his honorable service and the memories of all those men he so loved alive. If only in the minds of a bunch of young Americans and only for a little while. It worked. I'll remember him as long as my mind remains my own and I still draw breath.

I never got his name but it doesn't matter. I knew him as well as I know any of my brothers. Once a proud warrior always a proud warrior.

My buddy has agreed that when he gets to Japan he will go to a McDonalds and raise a toast to the memory of an old, proud Japanese soldier who once taught a young American what honor looks like. I am indebted my friend.


24 February 2013

Sunday Kipling

Happy Sunday to you all. Lu and I are tired and still fighting the crud so I think we'll take the day off. Something beefy on the grill sounds good.

I hope you all have a fine day. Our thoughts are with you and our prayers continue to those in need.


Arithmetic on the Frontier

A great and glorious thing it is
  To learn, for seven years or so,
The Lord knows what of that and this,
  Ere reckoned fit to face the foe --
The flying bullet down the Pass,
That whistles clear: "All flesh is grass."

Three hundred pounds per annum spent
  On making brain and body meeter
For all the murderous intent
  Comprised in "villanous saltpetre!"
And after -- ask the Yusufzaies
What comes of all our 'ologies.

A scrimmage in a Border Station --
  A canter down some dark defile --
Two thousand pounds of education
  Drops to a ten-rupee jezail --
The Crammer's boast, the Squadron's pride,
Shot like a rabbit in a ride!

No proposition Euclid wrote,
  No formulae the text-books know,
Will turn the bullet from your coat,
  Or ward the tulwar's downward blow
Strike hard who cares -- shoot straight who can --
The odds are on the cheaper man.

One sword-knot stolen from the camp
  Will pay for all the school expenses
Of any Kurrum Valley scamp
  Who knows no word of moods and tenses,
But, being blessed with perfect sight,
Picks off our messmates left and right.

With home-bred hordes the hillsides teem,
  The troopships bring us one by one,
At vast expense of time and steam,
  To slay Afridis where they run.
The "captives of our bow and spear"
Are cheap, alas! as we are dear.

22 February 2013

Remodel - Electrical

I'm not going to go into too much detail on the electrical. If you're capable then you don't need my input. If you're not this is one area to take extreme care. Get some knowledge and education. Get some advice and help. Or maybe just bite the bullet and hire it out. I have some experience and knowledge and I have a good source of advice. Car Guy is Mike Holmes with better hair. He's my go to when I run into something I'm not familiar with. On this project Lu wanted three hot wall outlets, one switched ceiling box for a fan and one switched wall outlet in each room. The combination of switched ceiling box and outlet was at the limit of what I know so I didn't hesitate to call up Car Guy and pester him for some learning. Other than that I rely on a good resource manual.

Take your time and do the work correctly. Do be careful. Household current can kill and even if it doesn't it still hurts really, really bad. As long as you're working with live wires make sure you keep the current cut at the breaker.

Speaking of "Oh crap, that hurts".

This is a power drill running a 3/4 inch wood bit to drill holes in the walls to run the wires. Romex 12-2 with ground if you're interested. That bit is sharp and the drill powerful. The bit seems to have been engineered specifically to catch stray bits of clothing and wrap it around it until either the motor stops or something gives. How do I know?

A moment of inattention. I had just drilled a hole and while the drill was still spooling down let it hang next to my leg while I was checking my work. Bad idea. Many bad words were said whilst I untangled myself and checked for missing chunks. Thankfully only my pride was badly hurt. Really, I only do things like this to entertain you. I swear. Would I lie to you?

I do have one other tip. There are places in your wiring where wire nuts are absolutely essential. there will also be others where these will work just as well or even better.
Those are push in wire connecters and they are wonderful. They're only for solid wire, cable type wires just don't seem to stay put but with stuff like Romex they work great and are way easier that wire nuts. You just skin the sheathing off and push the wire end in until it seats. They come in 2, 3, 4 and 6 wire configurations. I still tape the connections up but that's just common sense and something I do even with wire nuts. They make doing long runs of outlets a snap.

There's not much to see but here's the final wiring. It's all in and working fine. All the little electrons are flowing and the smoke is contained. I am so happy. So is Lu.

I still have one window to install then it'll be time for insulation and drywall. More to come.


21 February 2013

On Lincoln And War

This is an OPSEC violation I know but it's something I feel compelled to write. You may agree or you may think I've gone over the edge. Either way, after this I think I'll be limiting my political posts. Courage is one thing, advertising is something else.

I'll start by reminding or informing any reader that I am a Patriot of the first stripe. A veteran and a retired police officer, I have devoted more than 33 years of my life to this country. I love America and I want nothing more than to see her continue to be the light of freedom for the world.

I sat down and watched a special on the Lincoln assassination the other day. It was a movie made from the Bill O'Reilly book, Killing Lincoln. It gave me pause.

There's been a lot of Abe Lincoln out there the last couple of years, even a vampire killing Lincoln movie. Books, TV and film. Lincoln has been everywhere. Now I'm not one to buy into conspiracy theories. Most of them are complete BS. But there is a difference between a conspiracy and a plan. I think the left has a plan and the pessimist (or perhaps realist) in me sees the end point of that plan as a new civil war. I think they not only want one but are actively working for one.

The left has it's Lincoln in the White House in Obama. They have their emancipation movement in Gun Control. They have their spark in Sandy Hook. That's why we see so much Lincoln out there right now. That's why the media won't let Sandy Hook rest. It's why Obama has a complete pass to do anything he wants. It's why gun owners are evil, and not just of a different opinion.

I was struck by a passage in a book I read a long time ago, Red Storm Rising. In that book the Soviets created a crisis by killing...children. It's an excuse to start a war with the West and gain control over oil reserves. Really, it's about war for control period. The Reds used the killing of children, an act they committed themselves, as a maskirovka or military deception to cover their broader and more sinister aims. One of the main characters, LCDR Toland, a Soviet analyst, remarks that he's never seen the Russian population whipped into such a state of anger before and realizes in that moment that war is inevitable. The West sees what's coming and prepares. They negotiate, gather intelligence and gather their forces. Yet War comes all the same.

Now I'm not saying Sandy Hook was a deliberate deception perpetrated on purpose to mask political maneuvering but it was and is being used as an excuse to push us into a corner from which there can be only one response. The difference between the two concepts is meaningless. The end result is exactly the same. A deliberate bomb in the Kremlin or a random shooter at an elementary school. Either can be used to whip up popular sentiment into a murderous fury. I believe that is what has been done and indeed is being done even now. We're being set up. Put into an impossible situation where we end up having only one response.

The media and White House are pushing and pushing. Where just a few short months ago we all thought gun control dead and buried we now see federal initiatives and state laws limiting or outright prohibiting the exercise of the Second Amendment. The rhetoric and name calling is reaching levels none of us has ever seen before or even imagined possible in a free Republic. Banning and even confiscation is being openly discussed. The demonizing of gun owners is outstripping that of Rape and crimes against children. Plans and subterfuges. It's insane. Yet it's happening right now.

On our side we're seeing preparations. Guns and ammunition are being purchased in numbers beyond anything imaginable. Intel is being gathered and lines in the sand drawn. Politicians have been warned and warned again. Food is being stocked. Lives simplified. Nothing less than preparations for war whatever the individual motivations.

The left has it's Lincoln, it's propaganda ministry and it's Army. They have a placated and dumbed down populace, addicted to bread and circuses. The federal leviathan has grown and grown and is even now stockpiling arms and ammunition for it's enforcement arm. They have purged the military of those commanders suspected of being unreliable. They have shooters they are confident of and in their minds nothing now stands in the way of their ultimate victory except the lives of those now viewed through the same lens as slave owners a century and a half ago. They have their righteous cause and their enemy is clearly defined. Us.

And the pushing goes on and on. I'm now in the position of finding myself in agreement with those paranoid and fringe elements who have been warning about the coming war for years now. I am convinced. It's coming and I can't see a way to avoid it short of surrender by the Big Red Machine currently in charge of the country and it's mainstream media outlets. Or ours. Any bets on the likelihood of either happening?

Lincoln is the key to the Left's current thoughts and plans. They love him and the fundamental transformation he wrought on the Union. If he is their model, and everything I'm seeing right now convinces me he is, then war is absolutely inevitable. The left wants to kill us. Not defeat or cow or intimidate but kill. Their own words betray them and give us all the evidence we need.

I hope I'm wrong. I pray I'm wrong. I want to be wrong. But I fear I am not. I see the dust on the horizon and hear the distant drums sounding the march. I see the hate being cast against me and hear the roar of the masses calling for my blood. I see the in gathering of the forces of chaos and tyranny and I hear their calls for death and enslavement. And I understand. It's crazy.

I am a free man. I will remain a free man until the day I die. I will not submit nor will I surrender my liberties in the face of violence. I have spoken out. I have made my intentions clear. That is all I can do. I just want to be left alone. I hope the left understands that what they are doing is nothing less than declaring war on half of the country. They are fanning the cold war into a conflagration that, if not stopped right now, may well consume us all.

The spirit of Patrick Henry is still alive and well in America and I thank God that it is so. Give me liberty or give me death. It really has come to that.


18 February 2013

Doctor Today - Updated

We have an appointment to see the surgeon in Vegas at 1345 this afternoon. We're anxious and praying for a good outcome. Angus has been doing really well so we're optimistic but fear lies just below the surface. I'll post an update as soon as we get home.

Fingers crossed.


Update: We're home from the appointment. The news is good.
Doc took new X-Rays and removed the old splint/cast. He said it all looks good so far but because the break was so bad he wanted to wait another 4 weeks before releasing him to full duty (as it were). Angus got a new soft cast that will allow him to start walking more on his paw. Doc wants us to keep him activity limited for a while yet. He'll get the soft cast off in 2 weeks and start serious rehab then. Especially swimming. We see the Doc again for hopefully the last time in 4 weeks. Until then it's business as usual. Not as good as we wished but much better than it could have been. Doc is pleased with his progress but an injury like his just takes time to heal. That's Ok because if there's one thing our dogs have taught us it's patience. We're happy. Angus' energy level has returned to what it was pre-injury. He's off the pain meds and acting like his old self. Heck, we can't let him off leash lest he get the rips and take off running. We didn't get any pics but here's one I took the other day. Angus curled up on the couch with Mommy. He's so cute.

17 February 2013

Sunday Kipling

Things continue apace. We must live life or watch it slip away, unused and lamented. A soul full of "If Only's". A world of fear and anxiety and dreams left untried. No, I reject that notion utterly. I choose life. Death is only a path.

It's been 4 weeks today since the accident. Angus sees the surgeon tomorrow afternoon. I'll post an update as soon as we get home. He's getting back to his old self. His energy, his interest and curiosity, his happy silliness. We anticipate a good visit.

DO and AFSIL (AirForceSonInLaw) are coping. The grandkids too it seems. Everyone reacts to grief in their own way. As seems best to them. We can only watch, comfort and offer an arm in support. We're here for you if you need us.

It's sunny and warm outside. The day is absolutely gorgeous. Lu, Angus and I will go out and do something fun. Something to remind us we're alive and life is good. I highly recommend it.

Dedicated today to Richard. And to my daughter and son in law because they understand.

The Glories

IN FAITHS and Food and Books and Friends 
   Give every soul her choice.
For such as follow divers ends 
   In divers lights rejoice. 

There is a glory of the Sun 
   ('Pity it passeth soon!)
But those whose work is nearer done 
   Look, rather, towards the Moon. 

There is a glory of the Moon 
   When the hot hours have run;
But such as have not touched their noon 
   Give worship to the Sun.

There is a glory of the Stars, 
   Perfect on stilly ways;
But such as follow present wars 
   Pursue the Comet's blaze. 

There is a glory in all things; 
   But each must find his own, 
Sufficient for his reckonings, 
   Which is to him alone.

16 February 2013

Another Passing

My Air Force son in law lost his father yesterday to the horror of cancer. We here at the Six household are grieving for another family member gone.

Son. Lu and I want you to know how much you mean to us and how hard we are taking the loss of your father. He was a good and fine man and he raised a great son. You are a good and fine man and in the end that is all a father can hope for. That his son becomes a man. I know you are grieving and sad at his passing. I wish we were there for you. We hope you can take heart at your memories and hold on to the things he taught you and the lessons every father hands down. I know you are not a believer but Lu and I are so we hope you will accept our prayers for you and your mother at this time. That goes for your siblings,  DO and the kids as well. The loss of a parent is hard, so very hard. We understand that and we will be here for you if you should need us. With Mom's death just a few short months ago we do understand what you're going through. Not that such thoughts help. These are the times that try a man's soul but Lu and I know that you will pass this test as you have all others.

It's a tough way to start the new year. Let us all hope it's the last.


15 February 2013

Remodel Update - Interior Walls

Framing is finally done. All the walls as well as the roof/ceiling repairs have been completed. The doors and windows are in as well. On these walls I built the framing in place as opposed to building the wall on the floor and then lifting it into place. Again, I am not a professional framer or building contractor. I'm just a guy who has some handyman skills and who's too cheap to hire this stuff out. Take anything I say or do for what it's worth. YMMV. If you're unsure consult a professional or hire the work out. Here's how we did it.

Ok. We started by cutting and laying out the sill plate for the first wall.

Once that was done we measured over from the West wall on both ends and in the middle to make the room square(ish). The sill plate is then fastened to the floor with the Ramset. Two things to be aware of here. First. I decided to make the sill plate one piece and then cut out for the door. It's easier and simpler than trying to do the sill plate in two pieces. Second. If do it that way and you're going to add a door make sure you don't fasten the sill plate to the floor in the area where the door will go. You can add in additional Ramset nails in critical locations once the door hanging/final framing has been done.

From there I dropped a plumb bob down from ceiling joists on each end of the wall as well as the middle.

When it was even with the edge of the sill plate I made a mark on the joist to locate the top plate.

We nailed the top plate to the ceiling joists using our marks as a guide. Because this is a non load bearing wall a single top plate is sufficient. As you'll see later I did a double top plate in the other wall.

When both plates were in we put in the two end studs along each outer wall. One of those walls was block construction so the Ramset was used again. When you're adding interior walls over masonry or concrete the Ramset is an indispensable tool.

Ok. At this point I have the top and sill plates installed and the two end studs in place. I decided it was the perfect time to put in the door. We decided where the door should go and then I marked a center point on the sill plate. The door is 32 inches and with the frame (it's pre-hung) it measures out to 33 1/2 inches wide. I need some room for shimming and fitting so the opening was set at 34 inches. I made a mark 17 inches on either side of the center mark for the cutout. From there we had to allow for the jack and king studs, 3 inches on each side of the cutout. I made a second mark on the sill plate for those two studs.

Then it was time to cut out the sill plate for the door opening.

I put in the king and jack studs and the door header as I talked about in the last post and installed the new door. It went in just like the exterior door did.

Once that was done we measured out and marked the sill and top plates for 16 inch on center common studs. Some people go ahead and take the time to outline the 1 1/2 inches for the studs but I've found a simple centering line is faster and works just as well for me.

Remember to check for plumb and square.

I then toe nailed in the new studs top and bottom. A pneumatic framing nailer is the most massively useful tool you can have when doing this kind of work. Hand nailing this many studs frankly sucks. I figure we put in about 3000 nails during this framing remodel. We also added about 65 new framing studs. When you add in the 2x6 ceiling joists and all the supports and bracing the lumber bill was considerable.

I made a mark about halfway up the studs and put in the cross braces. I off set every other brace just above and just below my center marks. There's at least a thousand ways to do this. My way is easy, simple and strong but do it the way that seems best to you and is code compliant in your area.

One wall down, one to go.

The second wall went in just like the first with one exception. I mentioned before that the first wall was non load bearing so didn't need a doubled top plate. The second wall is also non load bearing but runs directly under a header. That concerned me enough that I decided to bite the bullet and do a double top plate. It's just two 2x4s sandwiched together as opposed to a single board. In this picture you can see the header running to the block wall and the double top plate running under it. It's just added security in case the header settles or fails. That wall is strong enough to take the weight of the roof without the entire structure failing and falling down.

The second wall completed with double top plate and door installed.

Here's a view of the corner where the two walls meet from the kitchen. the Boy's room is straight ahead and The Girl's to the right.

And a view from the same location (looking left from the kitchen) of the hallway leading to the back door on the East wall and the covered porch. The door corner is just to the right in the picture. Quite a difference from what we started with.

A reminder. This is rough carpentry. It's moderately difficult but well within the ability of anyone who has basic carpentry and handyman skill sets but do your homework. Acquire the needed skills and knowledge. Take it slow. Have a plan but be ready to modify that plan as you go. You will goof up. You will find out that you can't do what you wanted to on occasion. You will change your mind. Stuff will break or won't fit. The inspector will inform you that it's all wrong and has to be redone. Be prepared for any and everything. If you get to a point where you're uncertain or just plain out of your depth stop and get some assistance or advice. Comply with all local building codes and regulations/rules.
I recommend the following tools at a minimum:
-Chop saw
-Circular saw
-Framing square
-Drills (Cord or cordless. I have and use both) with bits and drivers
-Hammers both framing and finish
-Chalk line
-Pneumatic nailer capable of driving 16 penny nails and a compressor able to run it continuously
-Pneumatic brad nailer 
-2, 3 and 4 foot spirit levels. 4 foot is required, the rest is just massively useful
-More than one good 30 foot tape measures because you will misplace them constantly. having a spare rocks
-A good carpenters tool belt. Mine is the Tim Taylor model :)
-Marking tools from felt tipped to ink pens to carpenter's pencils
-Various small hand tools like hand saws, screwdrivers, nail pullers, pry bars, pliers, vice grips, etc. You never know what you'll need so more is better
-Lots and lots of fasteners. Nails, brads, screws of various sizes and gauges

All in all I am most pleased with what we've accomplished so far. The kid's rooms look like actual rooms now. It's been a lot of very hard work but the final result will be well worth the effort. The grandkids will have their very own rooms at our house. Joy! Plus the space is now solid and well supported. The issues have all been addressed and I'm no longer concerned about the whole thing suddenly falling down. My insurance agent will be so happy.

Next up will be wiring the rooms. I need two constant hot outlets, one switched outlet, one switched accessory box (for a ceiling fan) and one double throw wall switch per room. I've got the Romex but we need to run down to the big box home improvement store for the rest. I think we'll take the weekend off and since Angus sees the surgeon on Monday no more work until next week.


14 February 2013

Happy Birthday Lu

You are the light of my world, my heart, my very soul. The day you entered my life was a blessing beyond measure. I will try and show you today how much I love you and hope you forgive me for not doing the same every day of our lives together. Though I may often fail to show it please know that I always have and always will love you. You are my partner, my companion, my wife and I am so grateful. You have ever honored our vows and been faithful and loving in good times and bad. Always by my side and in my heart. No man has ever been more blessed than I.

My Valentines sweetheart. In my view this day is blessed more than all others because it saw you ushered into life and into my heart. May I always remember and ever remind you just how special you are and how much you mean to me. I hope you have a wonderful birthday. I promise to do all I can to make you feel loved and appreciated. Today and every day.

Happy Birthday my love.
Your grateful husband

13 February 2013

Remodel Update - Exterior Wall, Window And Door

With the ceiling and roof joists sorted out and repaired it was time to put in two new walls. The small section of the South wall I had to remove because of rot and the new East wall. The East wall will have a new window and exterior door.

We were rushed so I failed to get any in process pictures. The framing is pretty straightforward though I used two different construction methods. First the new, small section of the South wall. It's the wall right next to the old wall that still has the insulation. On that section we built the wall on the floor because we had to add OSB and insulating board on the outside of the wall before we put it in because there's no way to get to the exterior through the existing siding. I made it a loose fit due to the unevenness of the ceiling and floor. We put it up and nailed it to the existing structure. Then I used screws to fasten the new OSB to the existing exterior plywood attached to the siding.

Then it was time for the main event, the new South wall. On this section I first put in the sill plate with my Ramset then used a plumb bob to mark the location for the top plate. Once the top was in I measured for 16 inch on center studs and we cut each stud to fit. We did this due to the really uneven surfaces. It was just easier that trying to build the whole wall on the floor and trying to get it to fit properly. As the studs went in we framed in the new window and door. It was interesting trying to keep things plumb and some of it shows how far out the existing structure is but in the end it looks nice, is absolutely solid and the door and window are dead level and straight. It's nailed to the walls at each end, to the ceiling joists and to the floor with the Ramset.

Here's an exterior view with the OSB attached. The OSB is screwed to each common stud as well as the king, jack and cripple studs. In the next few days I'll add in the exterior insulating board. You can also see a new 4x4 brace for the header there in the middle. When we were measuring everything out it became clear that we had unacceptable sag in that header so a new brace was necessary.

As a reminder. This is what it looked like yesterday.

Here's a closer view of the door installation. Doors are tricky and it took some fitting, shimming and fussing to get it in correctly. If you look closely you'll see all the reveals are straight and even even though the header looks out of plumb. It's not but the ceiling is. You can see the differing lengths of the cripple studs above the door header. You can also see how the jack studs (which support the header) attach to the king studs (which outline the door frame). The common studs are 16 inches on center and go in independent of the king studs for OSB and drywall installation. Take your time here and get it right the first time or you'll either have to shim the heck out of it or not be able to get the door hung properly at all. The door swings freely and latches perfectly. I am a happy man. Isn't that a nice door? Lu loves it.

Here's a view of the room from the kitchen. You can get a better feel for the size of the space. It's about 20 feet long by 13 1/2 feet wide. You can also see the tape marks on the floor where the interior walls will go. That shiny stuff leaning against the wall is the exterior insulating board. It goes up on the outside of the OSB.

It's also nice getting this room finally enclosed so we can take down the child barrier and that blanket I had covering the kitchen doorway. Angus can finally hang out and 'help'. He's a happy boy.

I promise a more in depth view of wall construction as we get the interior walls built. We should get one done tomorrow though it is Lu's birthday so it'll be a short day. But we are happy where we are right now. The space is finally taking shape and the whole thing is looking like a room instead of a disaster area. More later.


11 February 2013

Take A Deep Breath

Christopher Dorner. Let's just call him That Asshole shall we? I have a few words to say on the subject though I am going to leave the politics alone. Language warning.

First, he's a scumbag murderer. I really don't give a crap what his complaints and allegations are. Once you go down the path of killing innocents every other single thing you say or whine about is irrelevant. As a veteran and retired cop I utterly reject Dorner and all he is and has ever done. That said.

Yes, I read his screed. In fact, I'm still having trouble trying to scrape his particular brand of narcissistic criminal insanity out of my brain. It's a testament to a disturbed mind. I saw racism, paranoia, a persecution complex and delusions. It in no way explains nor excuses what he's done. It does give some insight into his mental processes though. His complaints go back to grade school for crying out loud. No reasonable person holds a grudge for petty stuff from fifth grade (or whatever it was) unless you're an obsessive/compulsive. No one uses a long list of perceived slights, interpersonal failures and job issues as an excuse to mass murder unless you're a sociopath with homicidal tendencies. This is a guy who is never wrong, never fails and when things don't go exactly as he believes they should and he is/does gets angry and casts blame on whoever he perceives as being responsible for his troubles. He has no ability to self examine and no desire to ever do so. The problem is the world not him. Look at what he says about himself. Rambo was a sissy next to this guy. He's loving the attention and feeding his ego with the idea that he's a hero. Sadly, that's being reinforced by those so deluded by hate that they are cheering on someone who is a cold blooded murderer. Are we really that far gone?

Let me address the LAPD. I have known and worked beside more than a few LAPD officers. I've said this many times before. Yes, the LAPD is responsible for more negative court rulings and case law relating to infringements on citizen rights and outright lawlessness than any other agency in the United States. It has more than it's fair share of Hysterical Incompetents and bad actors. It has a culture unlike any other in the country's history, much of it frankly bad. But consider. LA  proper has about 4 million people being policed by a force of about 10,000 officers. Contrast that with New York which has roughly double the population and about 35,000 officers. They do things differently in LA. Some of the time that is a bad thing but a lot of the time it's good. Officers in LA are taught to be aggressive, but they are often too aggressive. See my previous post on Hysterical Incompetence and compare and contrast with the spate of  negligent (and criminal) shootings in the wake of this fiasco. They see a lot and it tends to create a Them vs Us mentality. That's not just with citizens either but extends to anyone who isn't LAPD. I've had many negative official interactions with off duty LAPD officers. But I've also had some great contacts and opportunities to train with some of the best cops I've ever had the honor of associating with. The good officers are as unbelievably good as the bad ones are incredibly bad. No agency is perfect and the LAPD is certainly no exception but that doesn't excuse a thing Dorner has done. Has the LAPD done this guy wrong? I don't know but I kinda doubt it. Go and read Aaron Worthing's fisking of the Dorner manifesto here. Then ask yourself who That Asshole really is and why some are supporting him. I'm not excusing anything LAPD has done but let's keep a little perspective here. They do a lot of stuff to hammer them for but this ain't one of them.

I've worked with guys like him before. So have you probably, or at least you know some. That Guy. The one you just know is either going to spectacularly step on his dick or flame out in an orgy of furious bridge burning. The difference is none of them decided that mass murder was the solution to their problems. Dorner did. That's what makes him not That Guy but That Murderous Asshole.

Now. To my law enforcement brothers and sisters.  
Take a deep breath and fucking relax!
Dorner is a punk, pure and simple. He is not death incarnate nor an unstoppable killing machine from the depths of hell wrapped in power armor and carrying The Emperor's missing Lightsaber. He's a former Navy officer (who most emphatically was not a SEAL) and a failed police officer. Let's compare and contrast with a certain blog owner shall we? I spent 9 years in the Army or Army National Guard. Four years of that was with an Infantry Division. Two years of that was with a Light Infantry Division. I promise you I have run more, rucked more and shot more than That Asshole could dream about. Then I spent 24 years as a cop (Not four, 24). I attended all manner of shooting schools including FBI SWAT school. Yeah, kinda high speed/low drag if not exactly BUDS or SF. I promise you I have fired many, many thousands of rounds in practice and training. More than That Asshole could possibly imagine if he were twice as delusional as he is. I went to basic and advanced police sniper school. Not wanna be sniper school but one taught by John Plaster. I've been the top shooter at virtually every school and academy I've ever attended, pistol, rifle, carbine and shotgun. Compared to That Asshole I am The Master Chief and yet I'm not a pimple on the ass of any good combat soldier much less the elite, both military and civilian. He's a wanna be. Remember that. He is not better than you except in his own delusional mind. He's a fat asshole who desperately wants to be seen as an unstoppable avenging angel so he can gain notoriety and scare and intimidate you. Do Not Let Him. He's just another pathetic loser and when he finally either gets his ass handed to him by someone who is not afraid or offs himself like the coward he really is he'll bleed red just like any other murderous bastard. Stop overreacting and shooting people who are innocents. If you do this you are also an asshole and need to be shown the door along with a criminal subpoena. He doesn't have MANPADS, he isn't omniscient and he possesses not a whit of combat magic. He's just another fucking asshole guys. Treat him as such. Use what you've been taught, watch your ass and take him down when you get the chance but pleasepleaseplease stop shooting people who are not The Asshole. Yes, you are risking your lives but that's right there in the job description. If you can't handle it then turn in your badge and fucking go away. I am getting awful tired of being smeared alongside you hysterics and so are many of the guys and gals you work with.

For the rest of us all we can do is be watchful and careful. Take this as a good reminder to train and carry. If you haven't yet buy a gun and then train train train and carry carry carry. Society is slowly burning down around us (though that conflagration seems to be picking up intensity at an alarming rate) and in the end each of us is responsible for our safety and that of our loved ones.

And for anyone out there looking for a hero let me assure you it ain't That Asshole. It's this guy and all the men and women out there just like him.

That is Staff Sergeant Clinton Romesha. Medal Of Honor. That is what honor, bravery and fidelity looks like. He is what we as warriors aspire to. He is who we desire to emulate and follow. SSG Romesha and the eight men who lost their lives at COP Keating. May God bless them all and may we all prove to be as worthy when our own time to face the elephant comes.


10 February 2013

Sunday Kipling

It's nasty outside today. A good excuse for staying in and enjoying good company. Lu had a great time yesterday at the range with her mom. Angus is bright eyed and ready for anything. DO and the kids are doing well in sunny Florida. I am content.

May you all have a fine Sunday and a better week. Grab the one you love best and kiss 'em like there's no tomorrow. Throw something tasty on the fire and eat hearty. Drink some fine grog. Count your blessings and be grateful we're all still here to enjoy God's creation together.



We are very slightly changed
From the semi-apes who ranged
  India's Prehistoric clay;
He that drew the longest bow
Ran his brother down, you know,
  As we run men down to-tday.

"Dowb," the first of all his race,
Met the Mammoth face to face
  On the lake or in the cave:
Stole the steadiest canoe,
Ate the quarry others slew,
  Died -- and took the finest grave.

When they scratched the reindeer-bone,
Some one made the sketch his own,
  Filched it from the artist -- then,
Even in those early days,
Won a simple Viceroy's praise
  Through the toil of other men.
Ere they hewed the Sphinx's visage
Favouritism governed kissage,
  Even as it does in this age.

Who shall doubt "the secret hid
Under Cheops' pyramid"
Was that the contractor did
  Cheops out of several millions?
Or that Joseph's sudden rise
To Comptroller of Supplies
Was a fraud of monstrous size
  On King Pharaoh's swart Civilians?

Thus, the artless songs I sing
Do not deal with anything
  New or never said before.
As it was in the beginning
Is to-day official sinning,
  And shall be for evermore!

09 February 2013

Thoughts On The Week

We took Angus to the Vet on Tuesday. He's doing very well, improving every day. We've worked very hard to keep his cast clean and dry and Doc was gratified to see it's condition. He decided not to change it and said the stitches could stay in until we see the surgeon. That will be on the 19th. So far so good.

Pneumatic nailers are a wonder. When you're doing extensive reconstruction, especially repairing structure and putting in new stud walls, they're priceless. Of course they can turn around and bite you in the butt toot suite if you get careless. Or finger as the case may be.
Yeah, shooting 16 penny nails into your digits is moderately uncomfortable.

From the 'No Sexism Expressed Or Implied I'm Just A Guy Talking From A Guy's Point Of View' department.
For all you high speed/ low drag gun guys out there a word on training your significant other. Sometimes it's Ok to let someone else do a little education. There's an clear and certain tension in any relationship. Everyone wants to be viewed by their spouse/girlfriend in a certain way and they feel the same. They want us to see them as they want to be seen. That creates a special relationship that can occasionally be a problem in the training environment. Watch for it and before tempers get short and things are said that can't be unsaid look outside for help. I'm not saying you can't or even shouldn't train her, you should if you're capable, but be aware of the potential pitfalls and keep your ego out of it. Lu is spending the afternoon with her mother at the range with another trainer I know and trust to sharpen her semi-auto pistol handling and manipulation. There is no special relationship between them and he can impart knowledge and techniques without ego or feelings getting in the way. Sometimes it's simply best to step away until a certain training hurdle has been cleared before again taking up the mantle of instructor for someone you love. There are times when we are the worst possible choice as an instructor for our wives and girlfriends. Understanding that and knowing when to step away for a bit makes you a better trainer. Not to mention husband.

The remodel has hit a small snag. It's currently snowing/raining and I can't finish the roof and ceiling joists until things clear up a bit. I need to get on the roof and remove a one foot diameter stove pipe and don't dare until I can get the huge hole in the roof weather sealed before it floods the room. Stud wall construction next week. Doors and windows have been purchased and I think I should have enough lumber to get at least most of the rest of the way through. We're a bit above my initial estimation. I think we're at about $1,200 so far. Since that was my initial estimate and I haven't yet bought a single sheet of sheetrock it's fair to say I suck at guessing.

Lu's birthday is next week. She's a Valentine baby! We stopped with the whole gift buying thing a long time ago so we'll probably go out to a nice early dinner and then snuggle at home.

With the weather bad I foresee a relaxed weekend with lots of battery recharging. Speaking of which, I do need to get the motorcycles out, get the batteries tended to and fire them up. First ride of the year isn't far away now. Can't wait.

I hope you all have a great weekend. Our thoughts and prayers go to all our brothers and sisters in the northeast. We hope you all weather the storm alive and well.


06 February 2013

Remodel Update

We've been busy with Angus so virtually no work on the remodel has gotten done. With his injury healing and doing much better it was time to get back to work. First up was some concrete work.

I needed to pour a small addition to the foundation to take out the small tip out where the wood burning stove was and make the space rectangular. It required a half yard but our local concrete company has a one yard minimum order so it was a good time to use the rest for a small walkway in front of the storage building.

When putting in forms over existing concrete you're going to have to nail the form supports in with a Ramset type tool. It consists of the gun, the nails and the cartridge. In this case three inch nails fired by a black powder .22 caliber blank cartridge.

The blank fits into the chamber

While the nail goes into the barrel. The orange collar on the nail centers it in the barrel and acts as a wad to trap the pressure when it's fired.

Here's Lu putting in a block. Two tips. You have to really lean into it when you fire it off. And when you're firing the nails into small blocks pre-drill a nail hole in the block first. That will tend to eliminate block splitting from the firing.

When you've got the forms cut and set and the blocks installed just screw the forms to the blocks and you're set. I anchored each end into the house and placed blocks along the length of the long form.

Foundations require steel reinforcement so I drilled into the existing concrete and the old foundation and added in rebar. I welded it all together for a strong cage. That's the screed on top. This addition is now ready for concrete. That area on the right there, with the tile, is the tip out where the wood burning stove was. The foundation addition will make the space rectangular and add about 24 square feet to the room. That's enough gain to make it worth the effort. I briefly considered just making the foundation out of wood but if you're going to do it make sure you do it right the first time. Lest you have to redo it later. Or someone else has to. Like me. Sigh.

There were two more sections to pour. One was the small space on the south wall where  the old, rotten sill plate was. For some reason they framed in this section of the South wall 4 inches below the rest of the foundation floor. Yeah, it got wet and rotted. That plywood you see there on the right is the exterior wallboard the siding is nailed to. Taking the stud wall out without screwing up the siding was fun. I'm bringing it up to floor height before I put in the new wall section.

And the new sidewalk next to the storage building.

The concrete arrived on Monday at 2:00 PM. By 3:30 it was in, screeded, floated, troweled and finished. I was responsible for the foundation and Lu handled the new sidewalk. We brought the concrete in through the window and the chute wouldn't reach. Which meant that I had to bring it to the forms by wheelbarrow. I poured while Lu worked the concrete. Good help is a joy and Lu is the best assistant and not just because she's cute either. That woman can work!

I let it cure until today then it was time for some construction. Finally. But first, another issue to talk about and address. If you're remodeling an old building you will find stuff like this, though this one scared the ever loving crap out of me. As I was taking out some of the old wiring I noticed this doubled junction box.

First, I don't like junction boxes in residential building. They're simply not necessary if you do the wiring correctly. But if you must use one it has to be accessible (in case repairs are ever required) and it must be put in safely. This one was neither. Remember that this attic space was buried in about 6 inches of blown in cellulose insulation. When I got on a ladder to check that box this is what I found.
The junction box was filled to the brim with dry, paper based cellulose insulation. Packed in against live wires. I have no idea why it never caught on fire and burned the house down. Needless to say as soon as I saw this I cut the power and took it all out. I'll be running power for tools with extension cords until I rewire the space. Lucky, we were so blessed lucky. When you do a remodel this is the kind of stuff you must look for because I promise you it is there. 

Ok, that problem addressed it was time to frame in the window opening in the south wall. Remember that the top plate in this space was bowed under the weight of a header that spans the width of the room. I started by taking the window and frame out and cleaning out everything but the basic framing. The lower structure under the window was sufficient and left in place. First stud placed, 16 inches on center. Hallelujah!

In order to make the wall square and take out the bow I measured both ends (which were identical) and cut all the studs to that same length. I then jacked up the ceiling/roof structure and pounded in the rest of the studs. When they were in I added the cross braces. If you look at the top plate in that picture you will see that it is now straight and level. The ceiling and roof are now well supported by a proper wall.

Once the studs were in place I faced the outside of the wall with OSB. That will strengthen the wall and give me something to nail the exterior wallboard and siding to.

And the completed wall.  Ignore the space you can see at the top of the OSB. I'll be adding exterior wallboard with sealing tape and siding on the outside and filling in the interior gaps and the spaces between the studs with spray foam insulation. It both seals and insulates. I love the stuff.

Another few steps forward. The old window is gone and framed in. The foundation is done and ready for stud walls and the old wiring has been removed. Next up will be framing in a new section of wall along the south wall where I poured in that small addition to the foundation. Then I need to finish the new ceiling joists in the center and East sections of the room (and wait until you see the issues there) and shore up the roof joists. After that will be a new East wall and then I can finally start framing the interior rooms.

It's a slow process but it is coming along. More later.