Sunday, September 9, 2012

I'm a lumberjack and I'm OK

Spider mites, a formidable foe and other back yard fun
Despite our efforts to use predator insects to nibble on the spider mites, two of the three infected trees have started to die.  We removed the tree's that were already on their way to the lumber yard in the sky and also took down three Mulberry trees.  Mulberry trees become a problem in the fall once they start to drop their berries, they make a huge mess and are all pretty much 'volunteer' trees spread by birds.  We took a video of the process of dropping one limb off of the largest Mulberry.

Some before and after shots of the yard in general.  The before shots were taken when we were scoping the house out before buying it so there is no foliage on the deciduous trees.  The after shots were taken more recently after a whole summer worth of growing so some of the yard has really do

Before, please ignore the green pool



Garage improvements
The walls of our garage are the brown paper backing of sheet rock with joint compound over seams and nails, not terribly pretty but far from "scenic."  My mom taught me a great trick of buying the dud paints that customers have returned to Home Depot because they got the wrong color.  You get high quality paint for $7/gallon instead of +$25/gallon.  We chose a mix of light colors for the ceiling and some dark blues (to mix with the remainder of the ceiling blend) for the walls.  I was talking to my mom about how smart I felt when we snagged the paint, her response was something like "you think that buying boo-boo paint makes you feel smarter than getting a PhD from Princeton?"  Yes mom, sometimes it does.

Mostly before, some of the ceiling paint is up (please notice
the single bare bulb meant to light the entire garage)
The dumb socket in the center of the garage is controlled by a light switch, so Matt was able to use his wiring prowess to install light-switch-controlled-outlets in the ceiling.  Why bother with an outlet on the ceiling?  So we can hang some monster fluorescent fixtures and be able to see what we're doing in the garage after the sun sets.  We hung an additional fixture over the work bench so detail work could be well lit too.

I don't know what this means

Ceiling outlet, for the win

Here is the finished product, far better than what it started as.  I do not care that the ceiling is glossy and faintly pink

Someday, the garage doors will be upgraded and perhaps even run with
an electric opener instead of our legs and back.

I'm sure you have a pile of stuff in your garage too so I don't feel any shame
about sharing this disaster zone.

The old "I'll just re-mortar this one tile back into place" trick
When we first viewed the house we noticed a few tiles in the upstairs hall bathroom had taken up a nomadic lifestyle rather than sedentary.  I finally got around to re-mortaring them.  Matt was fiddling around in the office while I started in on the project:

OK, I'll just pull out the obviously loose ones.  Oh sheesh these adjacent ones are just being held in by friction and aren't even stuck to the mortar anymore.  Neither are these.  Better just take them up to be sure.  Oh wow there is a big hole in the mortar, I should probably wire-brush and vacuum that out.

By the time Matt poked his head back in, there was far more tiles removed than he originally thought needed to be.  I'm pretty sure he let out an audible gasp.  In all honesty, some of the tiles at the perimeter were still just being held in by friction, but he reminded me that re-tiling this bathroom is not even in the 3 year plan of projects.  I agreed to stop removing tiles and get to the mortaring.  The pattern was easy to match and the strange dent was filled in with the mortar.  I let it set a few days then applied some grout.  I used the "dirt" colored grout we used in the Pit, and it was a perfect the grout that has been there for decades, probably started as white, and will not come clean.  The grout rehab is a project for another day.

Keyboard mount

I wanted to mount a second keyboard and mouse to the left of my drum set so that during recording, I don't have to reach all the way back over to the PC to start/stop/record a track. Unfortunately most wall mounted keyboard mounts were around $100. We decided to buy a cheap $15 monitor mount, and modify it to hold a piece of wood we measured to hold the keyboard and mouse.

The only thing left is a nicer midi keyboard with a stand to sit next to the computer keyboard/mouse. We may consider converting the closet to a "sound booth" eventually.
HVAC Fixaroo
For some reason, the previous home owner had been sending HVAC into the wall instead of into the room.  Classic move for efficiency.  We made a quick diverter with some sheet metal to send the air through the vent into the room instead of between the wall studs.  All the cracks and crevices were sealed with aluminum duct tape

Before, dumb

After, smart
We've been slacking on updating the blog, but not the projects.  We'll try to get better at this but sometimes life gets in the way of blogging about life.  My advisor Jonathan is in the process of moving his lab and his life to University of Georgia.  He'd been staying with us for 2 weeks and we were often beat.

Care of Matt, photo evidence of Halley and Jonathan passed out after a hard day of science and house projects