Friday, September 27, 2013

The Wall

Yesterday, the traveling Vietnam wall came to our town. It is an 80% replica of the actual memorial in Washington DC. I, of course, decided to go and see it. I thought it would be cool and fun, since I may never see the real one. I got out my dog tags and my old "go to hell hat" and drove over, with Wifey, to have a look see. I had no way of knowing that seeing it and reading the name of guys, that I saw die, would bring such a flood of emotion. I, like so many other vets, fell apart, recalling the horrors of war, the sights, sounds and, even, smells that haven't gone away in 45 years. Recalling the young boys, almost men but not quite, and then looking at my own face, growing old and gray while they lay, forever 19 or 20 years old in their graves. Why did I return, unscratched? By the grace of God, I suppose. I felt that I had to do something, however insignificant, to honor a few of them, so I returned home and made up a little three page memorial for 11 guys that we lost on one, particularly, bad operation. We went back and I laid it in front of the panel with their names on it. A lot of people stopped to look at it and read what I had written and to look at the faces of the boys who gave all, especially the one who willingly gave his life to save his fellow Marines by throwing himself on a hand grenade. It allowed me to speak to a number of people, who took a genuine interest in what happened in those few days when all hell erupted. Rest in peace, Bazulto, Bell, Bice, Blessing, Brothers, Cahill, Castillo, De Abre, Lee, Perkins, Walton. Also Reinke, Cooper, Novembre, Dennis, Corns, Kemmelmacher, Angerstein, Woodard, Pinnsonault, Kluge, Kemski, Tapio, Ostroff, and, God forgive me, the others, who's names time has erased from my memory

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Mixalot Or Fixalot

Well, failure has, once again, stymied my efforts to get the counters done and installed. Yesterday, I got up, ate my Count Chocula and Strawberry Quik and headed for the shop, to pour the third piece of the puzzle. I had already built the form and bent up and tied the rebar, so everything was a go. I mixed up two bags of concrete with the correct amount of pigment and flipped the mixer over to pour the mud into a bucket. The yoke, that I had broken and brazed together, wasn't up to the task and another load ended up in the dirt. This was distressing, to say the least. I went upstairs and got on Craigslist, and punched in "Cement Mixer". I got about six or seven good hits. What is it about the people that use Craigslist? Several of the ads had phone numbers and the rest were reply by email. So I dutifully emailed each one and called the rest. Two calls went to voice mail where the voice mail had not been set up. I don't text, so no sale. By this morning, none of the emails had been answered. I was able to contact and speak, finally, with two people. Both had mixers that would work for me. I chose the one that was the farthest away and cost the most, since it was only a fifty dollar difference and the better one was twice the machine. So, two hundred bucks and a 130 mile round trip later, I have a real, honest to goodness, heavy duty towable mixer that Godzilla couldn't bust. I had to order more of the special counter top mix, since I don't have enough to finish the job, due to the two mishaps with the mixer and the one piece that was twisted. Even with all of the drama, the counters will still end up costing about four hundred bucks, exclusive of the mixer and the polisher. Not so bad and I am learning through my screwups. I've always tried to observe others and learn from their failures, but self education is capricious and even cruel at times. So, I fully expect to keep smacking my thumb with the metaphorical hammer until I decide that it smarts a little

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Swing Low, Sweet Chandelier

When I built the lattice/diffuser assembly, I knew that, at some point, I would have to access the tubes when they burned out. I hinged it from one end and I had two long lengths of chain that supported it when it was open. When closed, I just hooked the chain closer to the frame. I didn't like it. Sitting on the couch and looking into the kitchen, I could see the big wad of chain where I had taken the excess and looped it onto the hooks that I installed into the ceiling joists. Not good, sez I. I went down to the shop, this morning and whipped up two scissor arms that attach to the inside of the frame on one end and to brackets, on the ceiling, at the other end. I cut the chains down to about six inches. Now I can just unhook the short chains and lower it until the arms fully extend. For all of you safety engineers out there, the wires are temporary and will soon be encased in flex with proper fittings.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Bet You Thought I Would Say, "Let There Be Light." Well, I Didn't

Today I hung a six tube, four foot, fluorescent fixture above the diffuser that I built the other day. I'm pretty pleased with the outcome. I don't think it will really provide the light we need for the entire kitchen. There is an, existing, recessed light over the sink which, also, is not bright enough. I will be upgrading it with something that puts out more light. We had planned on one or two pendant, lamps over the dining counter and another recessed can over the wall desk. I'm certain that these will give us all the light we need. There is still the option of under cabinet lighting, but I don't think that will be necessary.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Time To Lighten Up A Little

Wifey and I went looking at lighting the other day. We went to the box stores and a lighting store. We ended up confused. Flush mount, semi flush, pendant, under counter, recessed, LED, halogen, fluorescent, nickle, brass, bronze, chrome, lions and tigers and bears, oh my! We went home, empty handed. I sat on the couch and stared at the empty recess where the old fluorescent fixtures and plastic diffusers use to be. We had considered putting two semi flush three bulb fixtures in it, but I just couldn't get excited about the idea. I thought, what if I build some sort of hanging or floating shade or diffuser, that looked like it belonged in the recess, rather than some compromise that I would never, really, be happy with? Yesterday and today was spent building this. It took a few hours to rip and cut all of the half lap joints for the lattice. The frame was simple, just cut to length and miter the ends. I nailed in the lattice and finished it with quarter round. I think it looks pretty good. It doesn't look store bought and it fits the opening nicely. I made it six inches smaller, all the way around, than the opening. The light will shine through the lattice and bounce off of the ceiling and the sides of the recess, so it will look as if it is floating. I may put plastic diffuser panels on top of the lattice. We'll see. I'm not sure what I will do for the actual lamps. I'm thinking about a couple of four tube florescent fixtures. We had fluorescents in there originally and I never liked them. I was, forever, changing out bad tubes. Still, they may be the best way to go. As always, we'll see. In the meantime, I need to take it down and back to the shop for stain and finish. I still have to de ugly that hole in the ceiling. It's for the HVAC