Who could be any prouder?
What better way to start the day than to be woken by breakfast in bed? Finn and Mama surprised me with a tray of warm food to kick off a day outside amongst the leaves and sun and wind. Even though we raked the front yard last weekend, the incessant wind has covered it back over, and the backyard was beginning to collect great mountains of maple, oak, and sycamore leaves. I got to work building Finn a great twig-free pile and she jumped in it while I kept moving.
We made a brief trip to the store to collect more bags, and stopped at the dump to drop off some old electronics. While we were there I spied a Polk subwoofer sitting in the recycle bin. Now, I work for a good company and I get paid a great salary, but when I see something I can repair (and that I’ve been mulling the purchase of for years), I’m grabbing it. So in the back of the Scout it went. Then we stopped for a photo op on the way home.
Then I treated her to lunch down the street, something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. She talked me into a double-chocolate cupcake for dessert, because I’m a sucker.
Then we got back to work. By this time the sun was behind a low layer of gray clouds, so I brought out the firepit and loaded it with some dry elm. With a pile of recently collected twigs, I had a blazing fire going in minutes.
After filling about 20 bags, it was getting colder and Finn was bored, so Mama and I enjoyed the fire for a few minutes before loading up some forks with hot dogs so that Finn and I could roast them for dinner. Then we hit the den for movie night: Monsters University was funny and scary and just what we all needed.
And, guess what: The subwoofer works!
Busy week here. We took Finn to some friends’ for a Halloween straight from a greeting card: well-lit streets full of happy children, friendly houses, and great costumes. It made me proud to see my girl walk down the street holding hands with one of her best friends.
Leaves are in full swing here in the ‘Ville, and the streets are beautiful. It’ll take a week or so for all of them to drop and collect on our front lawn, clogging up the downspouts and rustling underfoot.
I got my final paycheck from idfive with an added quarterly bonus, so I splurged a little on some kegging equipment; a new gas block has replaced the two-way brass splitter I inherited, and now I’ve got a dedicated third line for carbonation installed with a one-way valve to prevent any backflow. The valve body is bolted to the edge of the surround and the gas lines are all cleaned up and out of the way.
I also picked up three sheets of 3/4 MDF board in preparation for building new speaker enclosures. I’ve run my woofer specs through some new online tools (I was using a poorly printed graph in a book in 1991) and it looks like my original calculations were pretty close. The tweeter I used in one of the two speakers seems to be on the fritz, so I’ve got to track down the issue and see if it needs to be replaced. The new speakers will also get different porting tubes and hookups, but the next big thing to source is a way to cut a clean circle for the woofers.
One of the items I inherited with the new job is a GoPro Hero 3, essentially a tiny HD videocam with a wide-angle lens and a waterproof housing, bolted to a giant suction cup. I tried it out on Sunday in some different situations, outside and inside the Scout as I drove out into Ellicott City and back. The built-in editing software is intuitive and powerful, but it’s going to take some more time to sort out how to get the best possible footage encoded in the right way.
I had dreams, big dreams. I had a list of projects two pages long that I wanted to tackle in my free week. Most of them involved hefty tool rental fees, multi-day logistics, or the employ of multiple day laborers to complete. Some of them were simple. Most of them didn’t get accomplished.
I was supposed to haul an engine out of my friend Brian’s yard about two weeks ago, and for whatever reason we weren’t able to synchronize our schedules. We finally got together on Monday and got it moved into the garage without collapsing the floor, but it ate up most of the day. I did recover enough that evening to transfer my batch of Belgian Dubbel into the secondary, and then brew a Kalamazoo IPA, which started with a 25 minute grain steep and is mostly Centennial hops. It smells great and hopefully it’ll be done quickly because I’m running low on Texas Bock.
Monday was supposed to be the day I borrowed my neigbor’s pickup and hauled concrete chunks out of the driveway, but that didn’t happen. I did dispose of two old bucket seats, an inoperable snowblower, half a load of brush, and a spare tire, which made me happy.
Tuesday after I drove Finn into school, I came back and attacked the attic. We’ve been hurling stuff up there into piles for the last six years, so the whole room has gotten way out of hand. All of the baby gear is now organized into one section and the rest of it is separated into categories. After I got that finished I worked my way down the stairs into the atrium–what is now the master bathroom–and continued cleaning. More stuff had been piled in there by necessity, so that got sorted and moved to the right locations. Then I cleaned up the construction debris and made it all ready for whenever we’re able to get back to work.
I’ve been meaning to get a brewing stand built for months now, because the amount of brewing gear I’ve got has outgrown the table I was storing it on. I picked up a wire restaurant rack from Lowe’s and set it up to hold three fermenters, with a set of tubs below and storage for other gear up top. It’s much easier to work with everything organized and out of the way. It’s not as strong as the ones I bought from Sam’s Club years ago, but it does the trick.
I’ve had lengths of 2×4″ PVC cut for the kegerator for about six months. The plan was to replace the wood surround it came with, which had gotten stained and dented and had several holes drilled that I wasn’t using. Initially I was afraid to pull everything apart for fear that I’d never get it back together again, but with a full afternoon to work with I figured what the hell. My neighbor (the original builder) had warned me he used several tubes of silicone caulk to hold it together, and he wasn’t lying. Once I’d pulled all the screws out it took just a few taps with a rubber mallet and the whole thing came right apart. I made a few cuts to the edge of the plastic surround to fit and it all slipped right into place. A few carefully placed screws and some clean new caulk, and it looks brand new. The cover went right back on with no problem, and I mounted the temperature controller where it had been originally. I’ve held off drilling to replace the tap handle, gas lead, and temperature sensor because I’m not sure which side the gas tank is going to go on or where I’m going to mount a gas manifold that I don’t have yet.
Wednesday was taken up with a doctor’s appointment in the morning and a bit of rest in the afternoon, but I put a sheet of plywood down on the brewing shelf and cleaned up the rest of the kegerator before disassembling my old speakers. I was planning on buying some new MDF to cut down into new sections, but I held off in favor of some other more important projects.
Thursday, on my way in to drop Finn off, I passed a set of dumpsters by an apartment building and spied something that looked familiar: Two A/V receivers sitting on the ground waiting to be picked up. I backed up and when I spied the word DENON on the face, they quickly made their way into the car. Later, when I had some time to look them over, I realized they were units in the same family, separated by one model number. It took some time to sort out the controls and how they worked, but both of them fired up, recognized an iPod, and worked perfectly. They date to 2008, so they predate HDMI, but for utility use in the garage or basement they’re perfect.
I also sold a set of Scout doors I’ve had kicking around the garage for the past four years; they were painted blue with a white stripe by the PO and gave up their window regulators and some other hardware years ago, so they’ve been getting in the way ever since. Erik M. stopped by to pick them up before work, and he grabbed a spare set of wing windows as well. Now I can pull the windows from my good doors and stack them vertically where the other ones had been, which will make more room for the engine in the back corner.
In the afternoon, I had Jen help me lower the traveltop onto the Scout, and I pulled it out into the sunshine to bolt it in. Brian gave me a 3-gallon jug of muratic acid (he gets it free from work) to dip rusty parts into, so I dunked a pile of body bolts and other hardware and soaked it earlier in the week. After two days the bolts look brand new, and they go in just as easy as butter.
Friday we have plans to do a family trip out into the mountains and see leaves and pet cows, which sounds just right for all of us.
13 years ago, Jen asked me to come down to the Oyster Festival to meet her family and have some fun. We’ve been going back ever since.
Finn is getting in on the action this year.
She even tried one herself!
We’re back from New York State from my cousin Jenny’s wedding and it felt good to sleep in my own bed again. Thursday was consumed mostly by travel. Friday we caught up with Mom, Dad, and Renie, and that evening we all gathered at a house on the lake for the pregame party with family who were already in town. The festivities went long into the night, although I bailed out an hour earlier than the diehards. Saturday morning I was drafted to get up early and help set up the tent (all that college catering experience came in handy) and between about six of us we had the venue ready to go by 11AM.
Jenny got hitched in a vibrant green field next to a stand of corn, which provided a lovely backdrop for the ceremony. It was presided over by Uncle Brian, who did his best not to get weepy. When the vows were over we hit the bar and the party was on.
Any good wedding has food, dancing, and cake, and the best ones have fireworks.