Holidays!

This time of year it’s hard to find the energy to do much of anything, blogs included.  So I’ll just post some holiday cheer:

–Simon

The Collapse of Civilization

I was fully prepared for Fallout 76.  I had taken the day off and downloaded the game in advance.  Then the region got hit with an ice storm and knocked out our power for 2 days.  If there was ever a moment in life where I questioned any understanding of the universe, that was it.

I ask why.  Why would fate be so cruel as to keep me from my digital entertainment?  And to answer, a loud groan of cracking wood sounded from on high.  I peered from the kitchen window inquisitively, and witnessed a large branch snap from the silver maple and plummet lethally, smashing my fence in the process.  Point taken.

Ironic, that the game’s genre–post-apocalyptic societal collapse–was rendered unplayable by a failure of modern infrastructure utilities.  No matter.  I would put my Fallouting skills to the test and repair that fence.  For how else would I stop an onslaught of feral ghouls than with an intact waist-high barrier?

Fortunately (I guess?), the contractors who installed the original fence massively over-ordered supplies.  The 1400 pounds of quickcrete is still a little annoying, but the 50 extra fencing slats proved quite useful.

I also used deck screws, which are far superior to the existing nails, making this the most structurally-sound section of fence.  No ghouls getting through this.

There.  I did something productive.  Now let me play Fallout.

–Simon

Laminate (Part 2)

I heard a theory once that mothers, having endured the pain of childbirth, cope with the trauma through selective amnesia.  The theory posits that, were the memory’s vivid details to remain, no woman would ever subject herself to a second pregnancy.

I don’t know if it makes a good metaphor, but I’ve found a similar effect in husbands who undertake painful home renovations, for 6 months is apparently the point at which I forget anguish and willingly subject myself to the original task which caused the anguish.  Of course, once I begin the task, I quickly remember.  But by then, it’s too late.  Much like pregnancy.

This past Spring, I replaced the hallway carpeting with laminate.  The horrors which lay below were unmentionable (so I mentioned them).  And the end result was well worth the effort, for no longer did navigating the hallway require a temporary hiatus from normal respiration.  Ahh, I love the smell of offgassing formaldehyde in the morning.

The subflooring of the dining room wasn’t nearly as bad, but the carpet was equally rank.  Cut into strips and awaiting their gradual disposal, they pollute the garage with the musty fumes of an old lady and a dying dog.  I’ve taken to running the ozone machine out there regularly, where it works much better than my original intention.

Floor stripped and vacuumed, the real work began.

I was faced with a quandary.  When we bought the house, the kitchen and front room had fresh laminate.  The problem was, the slats interlock in a certain direction, and unless I removed areas of the transition zones, I had no way of knowing which direction the slats had been laid.  When I re-floored the hallway, I hadn’t checked, but at the time it didn’t matter because it wouldn’t connect with the existing laminate.  But now, with the dining room, I needed to know.  But I didn’t consider this ahead of time and began work.  It would come down to a 50/50 chance.

I had already laid the first board.

As the work progressed, the dilemma gnawed.  Could I live with the two rooms not matching?  Would I be content to leave a junction strip between the two?  If I could, would the misalignment forever torment me?  And what if I eventually joined the living room?

So I ripped out the kitchen’s terminal boards and hammered in replacements.  I then shifted my prior work to match, but it was only until the work had advanced sufficiently as to be irreversible did I discover that the two rooms were not perfectly matched in linearity.  No, by mere millimeters were they bent.

Well, if intellect and proper anticipation would fail me, I could always use brute strength and violence!  At least I would have, had my strength been sufficient, but ultimately I had to use a 2X4 and the wall to force things into alignment.  And cursing.  Lots of cursing.  The boards matched closely enough so as to be convincing, and only a very close inspection would betray the slightest of error.

As proof of my efforts, I paid The Blood Price.

Once everything was aligned with the kitchen, the remaining work was more tedious than noteworthy.  I installed the border strip and replaced the molding.

We now have what I call the most adult room in the house, since no one’s allowed to use it.

I did so well in fact that Liz was immediately ready to pull the carpet out of the living room, but I required that the home renovation amnesia set in first.

She set a calendar reminder 6 months out.

–Simon

Aquaria

I was denied a promotion at work

Ah well, such is life.

So I did what I rarely do: I shopped to make myself feel better.

And so it was that I revisited a long-neglected hobby.  I bought an aquarium.  Specifically, I bought a small aquarium I had been eyeing for a time at the local pet store, before the Feng shui minimalist style apparently fell out of fashion, because the only aquariums I see now in stores are the bulky and cheap rimmed kind.  And so, skeptical about UPS’ ability to deliver unto me an intact and glass aquarium (seriously, I had acrylic tanks), I ordered the Fluval Chi.

I had always been jealous of the ADA (Takashi Amano) style aquariums, and while I lacked the budget to create one in earnest, the Chi allowed just enough space for a convincing facsimile.  I planned to use black sand substrate, vertically-aligned driftwood, and a java fern.  And, since I didn’t want to clutter the tank with hardware, I would forego the heater and use coldwater-tolerant fish: the White Cloud Minnow.

And while the tank did ultimately arrive intact, sadly, my desire for instant gratification was sabotaged by my local fish store’s lack of stocked driftwood, java fern, and While Cloud Minnows; though it did have black sand.  I grabbed the sand, then noticed a pre-packaged single java fern in a plastic tube…for eight friggin bucks!  Those things grow like weeds and are truly the beginner’s aquarium plant.  I grumbled, and bought it anyway.

Eventually, I found some White Cloud Minnows at a different store, and paid way too much for a simple common fish.  But I only needed 3 so whatever.  Still, no wood, so I resorted to sawing off a chunk from my main tank–which can’t be seen anyway since it’s long-since been overgrown by a decade’s worth of Anubis growth.

At last…

It also has a cool fountain/filter, so I placed black river stones in the top, added some spiderling plants, and dug up a little moss from the back yard.  It now doubles as a small water garden.

Now, when I’m working at home and become embittered, I can glance over and receive a moment’s respite in the micro aquaculture environment I have created on my desk.

–Simon