'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 March 2013

Sunday Kipling

The weather has definitely turned warmer. It's shorts and lightweight shirts.

Happy Easter to you all and may we remember the reason for the Day. Dinner this evening with Sarge and MIL but in the meantime a good hike with Angus, our miracle dog.

I hope this day finds you all with good food and better company.

Divided Destinies

It was an artless Bandar
and he danced upon a pine,
And much I wondered how he lived, 
and where the beast might dine,
And many many other things, till, 
o'er my morning smoke,
I slept the sleep of idleness 
and dreamt that Bandar spoke.

He said: "O man of many clothes! 
Sad crawler on the Hills!
Observe, I know not Ranken's shop, 
nor Ranken's monthly bills!
I take no heed to trousers 
or the coats that you call dress;
Nor am I plagued with little cards 
for little drinks at Mess.

"I steal the bunnia's grain 
at morn, at noon and eventide,
(For he is fat and I am spare), 
I roam the mountain side,
I follow no man's carriage, 
and no, never in my life
Have I flirted at Peliti's 
with another Bandar's wife.

"O man of futile fopperies 
unnecessary wraps;
I own no ponies in the hills, 
I drive no tall-wheeled traps.
I buy me not twelve-button gloves, 
'short-sixes' eke, or rings,
Nor do I waste at Hamilton's 
my wealth on 'pretty things.'

"I quarrel with my wife at home, 
we never fight abroad;
But Mrs. B. has grasped the fact 
I am her only lord.
I never heard of fever dumps 
nor debts depress my soul;
And I pity and despise you!" 
Here he pouched my breakfast-roll.

His hide was very mangy 
and his face was very red,
And ever and anon he scratched 
with energy his head.
His manners were not always nice,
but how my spirit cried
To be an artless Bandar 
loose upon the mountain side!

So I answered: -- "Gentle Bandar
and inscrutable Decree
Makes thee a gleesome fleasome Thou, 
and me a wretched Me.
Go! Depart in peace, my brother, 
to thy home amid the pine;
Yet forget not once a mortal wished 
to change his lot for thine."

30 March 2013

Remodel Update - Paint And Pantry

Sorry I've been away so long. We went on an overnight trip up north (just a head clearer) and I've been in a bit of a funk lately. No reason just the blahs. The good news is we are very nearly done with the kids room remodel. The paint is done, the fixtures are in and we're ready for flooring and trim. The hallway is essentially done and the carpet gets installed on Monday morning. We should be move in ready by Tuesday. More on that later. Today it's paint and pantries.

If you're going to do a large painting project preparation is key. Well, in my case prepping for Lu is the key because I don't paint. Cars and other metal yes. Rooms no. That's Lu's bailiwick and she can have it. To that end I did the gentlemanly thing and bought her a brand new tool. And yes, she loves her tools almost as much as I do mine. Et Viola, a spray gun.

That's a Wagner Procoat. It's a self contained gun in that it doesn't need an exterior air supply. No hooking anything up to an air compressor. Just put everything together, supply the paint, turn it on and you're good to go. It has an exterior feed system. Basically you put the hose into the paint can and it feeds itself. It works with all sizes of cans up to 5 gallon. Good thing too because Lu used 3 gallons of primer and about 3 more gallons of paint. Lu loves the thing and swears her days of rolling are at an end. It's Warrior Class Lu Recommended!

When Lu goes the brush and roller routs she usually just cuts everything in and doesn't tape. With the new spray gun she decided tape and newspaper was indicated. Paint will get everywhere.

I left for the day since even being in the neighborhood of actual work makes me break out into hives. By the time I got back she was basically done. Of course spray painting ain't exactly the same as brush and roller. It's....a little messier. It is a lot quicker though. One coat of primer and two coats of paint in a day. That's the face of a woman who did a days work. As my contribution I helped her clean up. Hey, I'm nothing if not a giver. In spite of containment precautions Lu still spent two days cleaning paint dust off everything in the house. Oh the joys of a remodel in a house you're still living in.

As soon as the paint dried it was time to install the new pantry. The only place we had to expand our kitchen storage and put in a pantry was in the hallway. That's the primary reason I left it so wide, to leave room for cabinets. Hey, you'd almost think I planned this stuff out. I already took out one kitchen base cabinet when I installed the dishwasher and we'll probably lose another base and upper cabinet in the kitchen remodel so we need the space. I considered building something custom in the space but the honest truth is I suck at cabinet making. Badly. So we settled for these.

Those are Oak faced pantry cabinets. Each is 84 inches tall, 24 inches wide and 18 inches deep. With two side by side that's an extra 42 cubic feet of storage space. It's right outside the kitchen in the hallway proper so it's very handy. We already can't remember what we did without them. Installation was a snap. We wrestled them into the hallway then I bolted the two cabinets together. I pushed them back to the wall and then used wedges under the bases to angle them back until they fit flush into the wall. Flush was more important than true level though I did level them as best I could given my parameters. They actually ended up almost perfectly plumb through sheer luck more than anything. Then I Ramset them to the wall. I could have used masonry screws but what fun would that be? The main weight will be on the bases which is why proper and careful wedging is essential on an uneven floor. Otherwise you run the risk of pulling the back out of the cabinets when you get them loaded down.

The view from the back porch looking toward the rooms. That electrical box used to be outside in the old back porch.

And from the rooms looking toward the porch. You can see the light fixture in the ceiling. It really lights up the space and is needed if one wants to use the pantry at night. The switch is by the back door.

From there it was time to install the fans in each room. The Girl gets the all white fan while the Boy gets the brown side down. It's apparently boyier that way or something. Meh. Chicks and decorating. The paint turned out nice didn't it? Lu does good work. I might even hire her again.

After all that was done we decided we had a dead space next to the pantry that was aching for more storage space. We shopped and found a matching upper cabinet that would fit perfectly. It's 30 wide, 36 tall and 12 deep. Not huge but every little bit counts here. We stopped at the local stone place and found a cast off piece of Granite from another job he only wanted 25 bucks for. A little judicious trimming with a circular saw, water and a masonry blade and it fit perfectly. It's a little rough but will work well for what we need.

Storage on the cheap.

Just the right spot for the dog food container. You can just see the floor there but I'm holding off talking about that until the next post.

Time for some trim. Since we already put in the flooring in the hallway we could safely put up the trim. We went simple. Lu likes the look of 1x4 and we decided to go with pine instead of MDF. Two reasons. I like the look of painted wood and some of the joints are uneven due to the old construction. It's much easier to fudge wood without it breaking than MDF. I'll end up using just about 150 board feet of trim.

Lu getting all artsy on me. The trim was put up with a combination of finish nails and screws. Remember those King and Jack studs I installed when I put in the doors? Yep, you can screw recalcitrant trim boards right to them if you need to. One of the benefits of doing the work yourself is you know right where every stud and board is. I can't put up the interior room trim until the carpet gets installed. Lu will tackle the paint on the trim as soon as that is done.

We are soooo close. Next update should finish out the remodel. I'll be covering flooring both in the hallway and individual rooms. Then it'll be time for decorating. We're already painting some furniture. Wait until you see the shelving unit for the Girl. Eye searing Hot Pink. It's been a long haul and costs went a bit above my initial estimate but them they usually do. Still, we should be in around $3500 which ain't half bad considering how much we've improved the house. I'll also have an Angus Rehab update as well as a post on our trip.


26 March 2013

Pit Fighting Muppets - A Musical Interlude

Heard this song the other day and really liked it. Lu researched it (she's such an angel) and unearthed this video. Words fail me. Judge for yourself.

I'd have paid money to see Kermit in the pit with Miss Piggy.


RifleCraft RS2 Sling - First Impressions

A bit back I stumbled upon the blog Art Of The Rifle written by Rifleslinger. It's a wonderful blog written by a man who takes his long range, precision shooting seriously. He's dedicated, intelligent, logical, methodical, open minded and talented. Mix those ingredients together and you have source of instruction and information pretty much unmatched anywhere else on the web. I have been an avid reader and consumer of his rifle knowledge ever since. He also has some great comments and interviews. If you're not following Rifleslinger let me recommend his blog in the most enthusiastic terms possible.

Let me back up just  a little here. A few years ago, just prior to my retirement, I bought a Springfield M1A. I got it for several reasons. The first was because I've always liked them and wanted one. The second was because California was, even then, actively campaigning against and banning all semi-auto magazine fed rifles. Among many others ARs and AKs were right out but the M1A was grandfathered in due to it's being what they considered a historic firearm. Much like the Garands. The last is because I know these rifles can be made to shoot long distances very accurately and the idea of having a rifle capable of accurate 600 yard shots while carrying 20 rounds in the gun really appealed to me.

The problem is I've just had too much to do. I've put off the build and made excuses for my lack of range time and effort. As a school trained police marksman who held the sniper slot on our Tac Team this was clearly unacceptable. Plus, as I read Rifleslingers posts I was reminded how rewarding and just plain fun accurately engaging distant targets can be. Work yes but difficult things mastered make the accomplishment all the sweeter. The big plus was when I found out that not only does Rifleslinger shoot very well and write even better he also makes his own custom rifle slings, the RS1 and RS2. I decided it was time to complete the M1A build and get to shooting again.

To that end I ordered a Bassett Machine low base scope mount and a new Rifleslinger RS2 sling. The scope mount has yet to arrive but I got the sling today. I want to say we finalized the order last Monday or maybe Tuesday and it was in my hot little hands today. It almost certainly arrived on Saturday but our post office does not do Saturday delivery and Lu and I were gone on Monday. That said, shipping was expeditious and appreciated. There's nothing a gunny hates more than waiting for a new toy to arrive.

I was after a practical loop style sling. I hate those that have the pad at the shoulder area for carry. They've always felt uncomfortable and awkward to me. Plus, no loop! I prefer straight slings that are adjustable and easy to both tote around and sling up with. Something simple and comfortable but effective for it's intended use, toting around a rifle and as an aid to accurate long range shooting.

Here's what I got. That's a Rifleslinger RS2 in black. Since I don't anticipate painting the rifle (at the moment anyway) I decided to go all evil black. Scares the antis better that way anyway. The main difference (that I can tell anyway) between the RS1 and RS2 is the loop. On the RS1 the loop stays more open where on the RS2 it's flat. More like a conventional sling until you need the loop. Rifleslinger advises that the RS1 is a bit quicker to get into and out of the loop but the RS2 is more to my liking and the extra time is pretty small and acceptable to me. It looks just like a conventional sling with a big old loop at the fore-end when you need it.

It's made by Rifleslinger in America from all U.S. sourced and purchased materials.

It comes complete and assembled. I didn't need sling swivels (the M1A comes with fixed swivels) but if you do he can supply them as well. I'll have to take it apart to get it on my swivels but Rifleslinger included detailed reassembly instructions.

You can get it with or without swivel silencers. I got mine with. In the interest of complete reviewer honesty I have to tell you that Rifleslinger threw the silencers in gratis. Not because he's trying to buy a good review (he's most emphatically not nor would I under any circumstances) but because he's a very nice guy I have gotten to know and respect and because he loves cops, even retired ones. Like yours truly. Plus there's my winning personality and natural charm to consider. If you want them they're only 5 bucks a set. More on cost later. The silencers are neat, well stitched together and made of what I suspect is more heavy duty nylon. I've had other slings and range bags where the silencers/webbing holders were cheap and quickly stretched to uselessness. These are an order of magnitude better though I'm going to test the heck out of them to see if I can make them fail.

The materials are quality and the manufacture first rate. I've got a Michael's holster and rig so I know good workmanship when I see it and I see it here. There are two buckles. One adjusts for overall length and the length of the loop plus holds the two sections of sling together. It's metal because it's going to be under the greatest stress and is a potential single point failure source. The other adjusts for length and is made of heavy duty plastic both for cost and because the plastic slides along the sling easier for quicker length changes. I have no idea how they'll do long term but that will come during testing. Both look and feel solid. Frankly, I was expecting both buckles to be plastic. The metal one where it needed to be metal was a very pleasant and welcome surprise.

The stitching is straight, clean and heavy. Nothing light, cheap or erratic. Nothing irritates me more than to order something custom and find it wrought with sloppy workmanship. None of that here. Multiple lines of stitching where you'd expect to need it and everything neat and tidy. The cut webbing ends were even melted and done professionally. It's a thing of beauty and it looks like you could pull a car with the thing. He includes sufficient extra webbing length to fit a wide variety of rifles. I'll end up fitting mine as exactly as I can and then trim off any excess though with the silencers it would be simple to keep the excess tucked in. The sling came so configured and the extra webbing was unobtrusive.

The webbing is actually kinda soft. It's a milspec nylon that feels, to my hand anyway, a lot like the old cotton GI slings we used way back when. I like it. It feels good and if it's anything like those old web slings should last forever. I still have an old M60 sling that must date to the 1960s. It's 1 1/4 inch wide and nicely thick. That thickness doesn't translate into stiff though. It's pretty supple right out of the box. I anticipate it'll get even better as it wears in.

This is the rifle the RS2 will be going on. As soon as I get the scope mount I'll put the whole thing together and get it out to the range. Scope is a Leupold 4.5x14 with mil dot reticle and target turrets. RS2 sling. Blackhawk cheek pad. I may or may not put a bipod on it. I'm trying to keep this already pretty hefty rifle as light as I can but only time will tell if I can get by with a shooting pack for a rest or not. Frankly, I'm beginning to have my doubts.

 My out of the box impression of the RS2 sling is overall very positive. It's light, sturdy, well built and is made of visibly quality materials. It is everything Rifleslinger has advertised. The icing on the cake is it's price. The RS2 I bought in black without swivels was just $22. The silencers add $5 and shipping was just a hair over another $5. My total was just $27.15, a very good bargain if you ask me. With sling swivel silencers the whole thing would cost out at $32.15, the price of a decent meal. Rifleslinger has done his homework on the cost/benefit analysis and put his effort and money where it's needed the most and kept the cost very reasonable. If you check your local big box outdoor store for slings you'll certainly find he's either at or below prices for slings nowhere near as well built nor as job specific. It comes in a variety of colors (depending on material availability) but I think he can get just about any color. I may test him someday and order one in Hot Pink for baby Girl. The RS1s run about 10 bucks more but for my money and what I need the sling to do the RS2 is nearly perfect. Hey a practical, beautiful, custom made loop sling for just a hair over 20 bucks? Pretty dang hard to beat.

Rifleslinger was also a pleasure to deal with. Responsive and positive. He even gave me some tips on my build since he's also an M1A owner. With his background, experience and knowledge it's fairly safe to assume he can help you with yours as well. I've always said I'll spend a little more to get good customer service as opposed to buying from the big box guys who don't really care about you or your needs. Hence my preference for dealing with folks like Michael. Rifleslinger is now in that category for me. He's my go to guy for long range shooting advice and has now become my sling guy as well. If I can spend a little less and still get outstanding customer service on a first rate sling? Yeah, I gotta admit I'm pretty much sold. Unconvinced? Here's an example of his attention to detail. He sent the sling with two zip ties attached. Simple line them both up at the swivels (with the muzzle up and the swivels facing you, to the right for right handed shooters) when you install it and the sling will be set perfectly with that half twist he recommends.

If you're at all interested head on over to this page and peruse the offerings. He has an options and pricing guide. Take the time to read about the inspiration for his creation and how he builds each and from what. He has detailed instructions on how to use a loop sling and why. He also sent along a PDF with my purchase giving instructions (with photos) on how to put the sling on the rifle. Which is good because I are a Luddite. Rifleslinger recommends a half twist in the sling for proper and comfortable placement of the forward hand when 'looping up'. He explains his rationale and gives a how to for that sling option. I'm going to give it a try myself.

As soon as I get everything together for the M1A I'll head out for a field shoot evaluation, not only for the RS2 but for the Bassett mount as well. I'm going to do my best to put the sling through it's paces and wring it out as thoroughly as I can. I'll do a write up on that soonest.

If you're like me and you need a sturdy, practical, field loop sling I encourage you to give Rifleslinger and his RS1/RS2 slings a look. If you're unsure whether or not a loop type sling is for you take a few minutes and go through his archives. I think you'll be convinced. I know I was.

Great sling. Thanks Rifleslinger.


24 March 2013

Sunday Kipling

A week gone past and another to look forward to. The kid's rooms are essentially done except for carpet and odds and ends. The carpet has been ordered and if it gets here soon enough we'll be completely move in done next week. Carpet or no our part of the project is finished and we are glad. We started the first of January. Throw in Angus' injury and surgery and Lu and I are feeling the need to get away and unwind for a bit. Sometime in the next week we're going to throw a few things into the truck, load up Angus and hit the road, letting the wind blow us where it will. Take a few days and just pretend we have no responsibilities, deadlines or worries. Listen to me whine. I don't have problems just temporary difficulties. Life is to be challenged and dared. Come on Life, take your best shot. I can take it and give as good as I get.

Life is good my friends and don't think Lu and I don't know it. We do and we are grateful. I hope you all have a fine day and an even better week.


The Jacket

Through the Plagues of Egyp' 
we was chasin' Arabi,
 Gettin' down an' shovin' in the sun;
An' you might 'ave called us dirty, 
an' you might ha' called us dry,
 An' you might 'ave 'eard us 
talkin' at the gun.
But the Captain 'ad 'is jacket, 
an' the jacket it was new --
 ('Orse Gunners, listen to my song!)
An' the wettin' of the jacket 
is the proper thing to do,
 Nor we didn't keep 'im waiting very long.
One day they gave us orders for to shell a sand redoubt,
 Loadin' down the axle-arms with case;
But the Captain knew 'is dooty, 
an' he took the crackers out
 An' he put some proper liquor in its place.
An' the Captain saw the shrapnel, 
which is six-an'-thirty clear.
 ('Orse Gunners, listen to my song!)
"Will you draw the weight," sez 'e, 
"or will you draw the beer?"
 An' we didn't keep 'im waitin' very long.
  For the Captain, etc.
Then we trotted gentle, not to break the bloomin' glass,
 Though the Arabites 'ad all their ranges marked;
But we dursn't 'ardly gallop, 
for the most was bottled Bass,
 An' we'd dreamed of it since we was disembarked,
So we fired economic with the shells we 'ad in 'and,
 ('Orse Gunners, listen to my song!)
But the beggars under cover 'ad the impidence to stand,
 An' we couldn't keep 'em waitin' very long.
  And the Captain, etc.
So we finished 'arf the liquor 
(an' the Captain took champagne),
 An' the Arabites was shootin' all the while;
An' we left our wounded 'appy 
with the empties on the plain,
 An' we used the bloomin' guns for projectile!
We limbered up an' galloped -- 
there were nothin' else to do --
 ('Orse Gunners, listen to my song!)
An' the Battery came a-boundin' 
like a boundin' kangaroo,
 But they didn't watch us comin' very long.
  As the Captain, etc.
We was goin' most extended -- 
we was drivin' very fine,
 An' the Arabites were loosin' 'igh an' wide,
Till the Captain took the glacis 
with a rattlin' "right incline,"
 An' we dropped upon their 'eads the other side.
Then we give 'em quarter -- 
such as 'adn't up and cut,
 ('Orse Gunners, listen to my song!)
An' the Captain stood a limberful 
of fizzy somethin' Brutt,
 But we didn't leave it fizzing very long.
  For the Captain, etc.
We might ha' been court-martialled, 
but it all come out all right
 When they signalled us to join the main command.
There was every round expended, 
there was every gunner tight,
 An' the Captain waved a corkscrew in 'is 'and.
  But the Captain 'ad 'is jacket, etc.

22 March 2013

Canine Broken Leg Care - Daddy I'm BORED!

When your dog is hobbled with a cast and orders to limit activity boredom will set in. Especially if he's young. Double that if he's a Lab. Triple that if he's a young Lab. Yes, Angus is a young Lab.

Angus was limited to no more than 3 gentle walks of 5 minutes maximum duration. That only leaves 1425 minutes in the day to fill. The first week that wasn't a huge problem. He was still in some pain and on lots of medications that tended to make him sleepy and a bit lethargic. After that first week he started feeling better, adjusted to the cast and gradually started getting some of his old energy back. Don't get me wrong here, it was gratifying and a relief to see but it did add a degree of difficulty to his care. Notably, how to entertain a 1 1/2 year old Lab with a broken leg and no good way to burn off his natural psychotic energy levels. There are a few things we did that helped.

Toys are a must and Angus has a conveniently placed toy box jammed to the brim. Care must be taken though, lest play times get out of hand. Lu and I ended up spending a lot of time on the floor engaged in gentle toy related play. That way we could keep him close and exercise maximum control of the situation.

Soft plushy toys are an Angus Achilles heel. He can't resist them. So the Gorilla was sacrificed to the cause because he'd lay down and tear at it trying to get all the stuffy goodness out. Weird dog but never look a gift horse in the mouth. Or a stuffed gorilla. How cute is that face?

One of his duck trainers was also sacrificed. He spent a lot of time chewing on it. To the point that it is now sans feet, butt and the head has been chewed into a rough plastic mess. We monitored to make sure he didn't swallow anything but frankly his system is so robust he could have eaten the thing in it's entirety and passed it back out without missing a beat. Still, something to watch. Hey, at this point it was anything to keep him occupied.

There are of course better chewing materials if you can interest him. Angus is a good chewer but for some inexplicable reason (I suspect Murphy's fine hand was at work here) he pretty much stopped chewing his rawhides during is convalescence. We made sure to keep at least one available at all times and he did chew occasionally.

Treats and rewarding desired behavior worked well for us. Care had to be taken lest his weight got out of hand but we doled them out as judiciously as we could. Oh, and Angus says thanks again to Alemaster for the Bonz. He loves them!

We had a good talk with our Vet. he recommended Benadryl. Apparently it has much the same effect on dogs as it does on us. Notably it takes the edge off and allows for more sleeping. We normally eschew purposely drugging a dog simply to keep them more calm but healing such a serious injury and the attendant surgery requires rest and sleep in abundance so we held our noses and kept the end goal in mind. .

Leash walks of no more than 5 minutes was the requirement but there's a lot of variety possible within those strictures. We changed the walk locations often and let him dither and check all the p-mail spots along the way. We took him to his favorite trails and walkie places. We encouraged human contact so he could make new friends. A funny thing happened along the way. Angus has become the neighborhood celebrity. People saw us walking him in his cast and couldn't resist asking about him. They'd drive by and honk and wave. They'd walk by or see us walking and stop to greet him and ask about his progress. It's been fun and helped Angus to while away his time and keep his walks interesting enough to be satisfying. Hey, he's cute, upbeat, friendly and walking happily on a bum leg with a cast. How irresistibly attractive can a dog be?

I'm of two minds about his future at this point. The Doc says full recovery with all that entails but I'm still a bit queasy about where to take his training after recovery. I may continue his hunt and field trial training where we left off but I may also decide to bag it and just go with basic obedience and chase the ball type stuff. Frankly, the main hang up may well be mine. I'm uncertain I am capable of sending him out into the field where holes, rocks, ditches and pitfalls will abound. At least not without gut wrenching fear. We're just going to have to see.

After 8 weeks we're finally out of the cast phase and on to rehab. I'll be posting about how we're handling that and a few thoughts on mind sets later but to hold you over here's an Angus picture and a large hint.

Thanks again for all the help, knowledge and support. Angus is getting better each and every day. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel and from here it looks glorious.


19 March 2013

Remodel Update - Texture

We got through another big step today. Both rooms and the hallway have been textured and are ready for paint. Lu will do the painting on Thursday.

Texture is very straight forward and isn't terribly complicated though it is messy. To get started you'll need just a few things.

You'll need a goodly quantity of spray on texture. Trust me on this. It vanishes like smoke from the electrical system of a British sports car. We used almost 10 pounds on 2 rooms and a smallish hallway. Get texture if you can as opposed to joint compound. Joint compound will work but you'll have to thin it with water to get it to work properly through the gun.

You'll need a spray gun to apply the texture. Mine comes with three tips for various densities, small, medium and large. Medium works for most applications but test spray something before you begin to make sure it's exactly what you want. If you have a minor repair or a really small job you can buy spray on texture in rattle cans the same size as regular paint. For anything else I recommend investing in a good gun.

And you'll need a compressor to supply high pressure air to the gun. Get one big enough to supply a constant air pressure of at least 60 psi to the gun continuously.

Take a couple of minutes to take off the doors and sover those things you don't want textured like windows. It makes clean up much easier and faster.

 I know the bucket of texture says premixed but I find it works best if I stir it up before application. It gives you a better consistency and better flow through the gun. If you have joint compound, which is thicker, this is the time to thin it out.

Then it's just a matter of filing the hopper and spraying on the texture to the consistency you desire. Over and over again. Lu and I both hate popcorn ceilings so I sprayed the texture on walls and ceiling. Just be careful not to tip the hopper too far back lest you end up with a large glob on your face. Not that you won't get messy anyway because you will.

Body, clothes, floor and tools. The texture will get everywhere. Just be as careful as you can and figure on doing a lot of wash up.

It's kinda hard to see but this is what you'll end up with. Walls and ceilings covered with texture and ready for paint. The texture gives depth to the drywall surface and hides lines, divots and imperfections. Remember, perfect is the enemy of good. I guarantee you even professionals have mistakes in their drywall. We're looking for consistency and uniform coverage not absolute perfection. When the primer and paint go on they'll also do a lot to add to the surface look you want.

This is pure Do It Yourselfer territory. Anyone can do texture you just have to have a few things and the desire. Checking labor rates for professional crews will provide all the motivation you'll need. Besides, nothing feels better than a job well done.

Another box checked and one step closer to being finished. Tomorrow we'll do a complete cleanup including scraping the floors and those areas not supposed to be textured that caught some anyway and moving all the tools out and back to my shop. Then we'll buy the primer and paint. Lu is our painter and has decreed Thursday as paint day. I think I'll find somewhere else to be on that day. I hate painting. After paint we'll have the rooms carpeted. I'm going to hire that job out though most flooring companies figure in the cost of installation in the price of the carpet. Then it's just touch ups and fixture installation. When we're finished I'll do a review and present the final cost breakdown. I'm figuring we'll come in right about $2500 total.

Man, we're getting close. I can't wait to be done.


18 March 2013

2013 Resolutions

I don't get the whole New Year's resolutions thing but I do have great respect for making plans and trying to accomplish certain goals. Stretching your limits, especially at my age, is important. Maybe more so now than at any other point in my life. I'm nearing my mid 50s so the time left for trying new things and acquiring new physical skills before I just get too old and broke down is rapidly dwindling. I am not going down without a fight. I'll go but by golly I'm going kicking and screaming.

In the vein of all the above nonsense I do have some things I'd really like to accomplish in the coming year as well as some purchases and reviews in the works. Here's the list.

Finish the master bedroom and second bathroom. The kids room is nearing completion and there is no way I'm getting up on that blast furnace of a  roof to replace the shingles in the heat of Summer so the master bedroom/bathroom may be the next large project. One bathroom is OK when it's just me and Lu but when we have company, like the grandkids for example, a second bathroom is a near necessity. Besides, I promised Lu. Look for more how to posts. As if you're all not already sick of them.

Angus' rehab has started in earnest. At first I had decided that field trial and hunting training was out of the question but now I'm not so sure. The best I can come up with is we'll just have to wait and see. The Surgeon said he'd be personally offended if Angus wasn't back to full speed after the surgery but it's not his decision to make. My goal for the year is to get him back as close to one hundred percent as possible and then decide where we go from there. If I choose to stop his training that's Ok. He's still a wonderful companion. I'll have more posts up on his rehab and our decision.

Improve my rifle shooting and reacquire as many of my now rusty pistol skills as I can. I've been following Rifleslinger over at Art Of The Rifle for a bit now and he's really got me revved up. If you're a rifle shooter and not reading Rifleslinger please allow me to recommend his blog in the strongest terms. He's smart, determined, knowledgeable and logical in his approach to long distance precision shooting. Definitely worth the investment of your time. A couple of years ago Michael at Michael's Custom Holsters made me a beautiful rig for IDPA shooting. Unfortunately a long string of catastrophes and major projects has precluded any serious pistol shooting much less competition. I'm going to change that this year. With Lu getting her concealed carry permit it's time for us both to get back to shooting regularly. I will compete this year.

Acquire some new stuff. Whoa, that's a surprise right there huh. Six buying new fun stuff. With help from Rifleslinger I'm putting together my M1A. Finally. I have the scope, mount and accessories and just ordered a new loop sling from him. Instinct from Rimfire Designs is making me new grips for my retirement Sig P226 that are going to be awesome. Look for a review on both in the near future.

I want to add two bolts to the armory. One will be in either .308 or 300 Win Mag though I've even toyed with one of the big 33s. The other is up in the air for the moment. It'll be for Lu and I am seriously considering .223. It won't be a hunting gun it'll be strictly for long range shooting. Out to say 600 yards or so. Set up properly a good .223 bolt with the proper loads and accessories is very capable and I want it to be fun for her to shoot. Hopefully without sounding like a flincher or a recoil sensitive wuss I have admit that a long day at the range firing the Ruger 300 Win Mag a couple of dozen times can be a bit of a trial.

A kids rifle in .22 LR. This one is a no brainer. I badly want to introduce the kids to the shooting sports. 

Lu and I are upgrading the kids bicycles to something a little better equipped. We recently found a Diamondback Octane 20 used at the local Deseret Industries (think Mormon Goodwill) for 35 bucks. We bought it and I'll be stripping it down for maintenance/fixing and repainting. We're shopping for another. I'm also looking for a small kids motorcycle or minibike. Hey, I started young and see no reason they shouldn't have the same experiences. Luckily DO agrees. Besides it's a great motivator. Want to go riding tomorrow? Great, I think the poop bucket needs to be emptied and yard picked up. Heh heh.

I want to start writing again. Did you know I've actually written two novel length stories and a bunch of shorts? Well I have even if they're awful. And they are. Still, I love to write and I need to do more of it. Call it therapy. It's just for me though Lu and DO both read all my stuff. Hey a readership of two is still a fan base :)

The 2013 Long Ride with Car Guy is in the planning stages. It has to be before the kids get here in June so we're looking at either April or May. Since he's just started a total kitchen remodel we'll have to schedule it for when we both have a break. He's left the route up to me and I'm thinking about a trip north. Maybe Puget Sound? We'll see. The BMW is running like a top and Car Guy has a couple of new toys he wants to try out the legs on. At least we'll both have bigger gas tanks so running out in the middle of nowhere will be a somewhat lesser hazard than last year.

I've been neglecting my personal fitness. With projects winding down that has to change. The only way to get fit and stay fit is to prioritize my regime and I'm determined to do that. I've been using issues and projects as excuses and that has to stop. The gym is back together and I want to add a universal machine to the mix. I got rid of the squat rack after last years knee injury so I have room now. The bicycles are calling out to me even now and the weather is perfect. I need to go for a ride! My goal is to get back to fighting trim and back to at least the occasional 25 plus mile rides. I'd also like to get back down to the low 220s weight wise. I'm probably 240 or so right now so that means about 20 pounds of pure lard I need to lose. Oof.

I'm being as positive about the new year as I can be. There are some things I can influence, mostly those personal and family related, but there are many more that are out of my hands. I refuse to become a worry wart about them. I'll prepare and do what I can and leave the rest in God's hands where they properly should be anyway. I'm looking forward to an interesting, challenging and fun 2013. My daughter and grandkids will be here in June for a nice long visit and we have a bunch of plans for fun stuff to see and do. We're even going to take them to Lagoon in Salt Lake City. It's a small amusement park where Lu and I spent our honeymoon so very long ago. It'll be fun to take them. How could we not be looking forward to that?

See you all down the road my friends.


17 March 2013

Sunday Kipling

Getting old sucks. Not that I'm getting more forgetful or anything. Just saying, that's all.

Gallio's Song

"And Gallio cared for none of these things." 
Acts xviii. "Little Foxes" 
Actions and Reactions.

All day long to the judgment-seat
The crazed Provincials drew--
All day long at their ruler's feet
Howled for the blood of the Jew.
Insurrection with one accord
Banded itself and woke,
And Paul was about to open his mouth
When Achaia's Deputy spoke--

"Whether the God descend from above
Or the Man ascend upon high,
Whether this maker of tents be Jove
Or a younger deity--
I will be no judge between your gods
And your godless bickerings.
Lictor, drive them hence with rods--
I care for none of these things!

Were it a question of lawful due
Or Caesar's rule denied,
Reason would I should bear with you
And order it well to be tried;
But this is a question of words and names,
I know the strife it brings.
I will not pass upon any your claims.
I care for none of these things.

One thing only I see most clear,
As I pray you also see.
Claudius Caesar hath set me here
Rome's Deputy to be.
It is Her peace that ye go to break--
Not mine, nor any king's.
But, touching your clamour of 'Conscience sake,'
I care for none of these things.

Whether ye rise for the sake of a creed,
Or riot in hope of spoil,
Equally will I punish the deed,
Equally check the broil;
Nowise permitting injustice at all
From whatever doctrine it springs--
But--whether ye follow Priapus or Paul,
I care for none of these things!"

15 March 2013

Angus Update - Cast Is Gone - Pictures (Warning, Kinda Graphic)

We took the boy into see the surgeon in Las Vegas this morning at 0915 local time. As usual they took him back for removal of the soft cast and new X-Rays. A few minutes later the nurse came back being dragged by a black dog sans one soft cast.

It was good to see him without it. We've only seen his leg once in the last 8 weeks and that was two weeks ago when the our Vet changed the cast. It looks....kinda bad but in a good way. The leg is pale and covered with red areas. Some are from the incision but some are from being in a leg cast for 8 weeks. The good news is the surgeon was happy with his progress. His words "I'm pleased." That took a huge load off our minds since we're naturally a little pessimistic and generally expect the worst. Neither of us slept much last night. No more cast but we do still have to deal with an incision that needs final healing without any canine licking therapy. The ankle is stiff though his elbow is moving nicely. He still limps around and tends to carry the leg whenever he's moving faster than a dead slow walk. He stands well and the leg looks straight. Rehab begins immediately. Slow walks and as much swimming as we can fit into our schedules. We do have to go back to intense supervision to keep the running and licking down. We're trying to make a go of it without the collar of shame but it's nearby if (when?) we figure out can't get by without using it. In the meantime it's topical antibiotics and bitter apple for the wounds and lots of supervised activity. Doc says two weeks but we can easily lengthen that out depending on what we're seeing. More on this later. In the meantime  do have photos. I warn you that some are dang hard to look at. Some of them make my heart hurt.

Here's Angus in the parking lot with Lu just after we left the surgeon's office.We hadn't yet had a chance to get his leg cleaned up. He was past ready for everyone to stop touching his leg and just let him go home!

Ok. I got some shots of the X-Rays from the surgeon's computer. Again, they are a little graphic. You can see the breaks and how bad they were. They also show the plate and screws he used to put everything back together again.
By my count he used 10 screws. 8 to attach the plate and 2 more transversely to pull the split bone back together. Poor Angus. I get a sick stomach just thinking about how bad that had to hurt and all the misery he's gone through these last 8 weeks.

A couple of closer looks at that incision site. I was frankly surprised at how jagged and uneven it is. My own incision scars are invariably straight and relatively neat. Still, it's the end results that count.

In spite of everything we have been blessed and we know it. When he got hurt the only thing Lu and I prayed for (as well as a lot of you, my friends) was for him to recover no matter the cost or effort required. We got that miracle. Today was a large step in the recovery process. We couldn't start rehab and physical therapy in earnest until the cast came off for the final time. Whatever challenges come up please know we are both capable and determined to escort him through them.

Thank you all for your prayers. They are gifts that we can never adequately repay. That little man up there with the healing leg is proof of the power of prayer and we are eternally grateful.

I'll update as the rehab and physical therapy progressThank you again my friends.

Six, Lu and Angus.

12 March 2013

Remodel Update - Mud And Tape With Sanding!

I'm sorry about the dearth of interesting posts. I'm just not feeling it these days. OPSEC has something to do with it but mostly I'm just burned out a bit. The remodel is taking up so much if my time that Lu and I are too tired to do much more than watch a little TV and sleep until 10. Speaking of the remodel we've got the taping and mudding done in the kids rooms and have one sanded.

I'm not going to go into a lot of detail on mud and tape other than to say how we do it. There are a lot of ways to complete the task, this is just ours. To start you will need some supplies, starting with drywall joint compound. We have two brands available locally, Sheetrock and Westpac, but they aren't exactly the same.
The Sheetrock brand is thicker while the Westpac is thinner. Both do basically the same job but go on differently. The thicker compound is best used to fill in large cracks and screw/nail hones while the thinner is easier to use for taping. Different styles and needs based on who's doing what work but do be aware that not every bucket will be exactly the same in all regards. I love the one pound buckets. They clean up well and the lids seal almost air tight. Great for putting small stuff in like ammunition and range brass. You'll also need tape/putty knives in a variety of styles and widths. More is better here. Some like wide and some narrow but the job may require more than a few.

Lu is the general contractor for this phase. Neither of us has done a lot of drywall finish work but she's done the most as well as the most research so she got to call the shots. She had me doing the window trim and screw hole filling while she did the bulk of the seam taping. Oh, and I did the sanding. You'll see why a little later.

The concept is pretty simple. Apply compound (mud) over the seam, put on the tape, press it in and even it out with a knife and then go back over it and apply a second coat of mud over the tape. Let it dry and sand to desired finish. You may have to go back and touch up spots or even apply another coat depending on your final finish. We're going with a heavy coating of texture so our final sanding doesn't need top be as perfect as it would if we were just sanding and painting.

Drywall tape comes in long rolls. You do have to be careful while slinging mud around. If you get globs on the tape rolls you may be down at the hardware store buying more.

Here's where we started. Bare drywall covered walls ready for finishing.

 Here's the boss, primed and ready for the day. You can see she's got a seam started. She's short so she did a section and then moved on until she had a run completed. Then she went back and final mudded the tape. We're slap and dash finishers. We probably used a lot more compound than we needed but sanding is easy if messy. Slap it on and move along is our motto.

She's using the knife to flatten the tape, press it into the mud, get out air bubbles and squeeze out the excess mud. I caught her in mid command mode in this picture. "Put down that @#%@ing camera and get back to work you lazy slacker!"

She's using a 4 inch knife. Why? Because she's the boss and the boss said so that's why. I get to use a 2 inch knife. I think that's sexist. Help, I'm being oppressed!

When the taping is done it's time for sanding. That's my job. There's a variety of useful tools I use including this one. That's my DeWalt random orbit sander. It's a great tool but please use it carefully. It can tear through drywall compound like stink but it can also sand down through the paper surface and into the interior of the drywall board faster than you can imagine. It can also tear up stuff your wife just did and, trust me on this, that is no fun at all. If you do that she's liable to make you do the repair so word to the wise here. I generally only use it on rough patches and screw holes where I can't do a lot of damage.

Mostly I rely on the old standbys, cheese graters, sandpaper and sanding blocks.That big one is for corners. I like them because there are an awful lot of corners in a room. The pole is a sanding device used to more easily get to the ceiling. It's great for us old guys and the sand paper attaches with hook and loop so they're easy to change out. As I said we're going with texture on the walls and ceiling so I only used 80 and 150 grit sandpaper.

I really love the sanding blocks. They're basically sandpaper on a foam block. Either big for corners or smaller and flatter for everything else.

Of course sanding does produce a byproduct. Drywall joint compound dust. That's why it's my job. Dust masks and good ventilation will help but sooner or later you will end up looking like this.
I opened windows and used a fan to blow out a window but to no avail. Anyone else thinking of Procol Harum's Whiter Shade Of Pale? No? Well then you're in luck. Here ya go.

In the end it was done. We still have to go back over and correct any mistakes and The Boy's room still needs some sanding but we're nearly ready for the next step.

On Thursday I anticipate applying texture. Think about 5 gallons of thin joint compound applied with a spray gun to walls and ceiling. It'll be a blast!