One Door Leads to Certain Doom

Well, maybe not doom, but the usual mix of anger and irritation.

Liz wanted a storm door on the front, as she had long complained about the lack of airflow north to south through the house, which is mostly because there’s no south-facing window (aside from the bedrooms).  So, in theory, the front door could be left open to aid this pneumatic conundrum were a screen to be installed there.

I liked the look of our front door, as it sported a rather medieval type of aged bronze handle upon dark maroon paint, so I was reluctant to hide that behind my outdated vision of a screen door: the Lubbock house’s back door–an exposed aluminum frame with a screen that was always torn and popping out.

But there have been some design updates in the last 20 years, and the modern iterations are coated aluminum with hybrid glass/screens.  They also mount into frames with enough clearance so as to avoid doorknob complications, and they can accommodate the ever so important seasonal wreath which hangs from the main door.

That’ll keep the storms out!

Nevertheless, it wasn’t as straightforward as IKEA furniture.  In fact, depending on its desired orientation, the screw holes had to be manually drilled out first.  This process required some spacial orientation, and therefore concentration, to do correctly.  But at this critical moment, Poppy attacked the mailman, and after I corralled the whippet any such concentration was shot, and of course I drilled out the wrong side.  Sigh.  At least the holes are small.

I also had to drill out rather large holes to attach the doorknob and deadbolt, during which the battery in my drill went dead, so the project experienced a rather unfortunate delay.

And there was no gentle way to drill out 3/4 inch holes in plate aluminum

But alas!  We now have a storm/screen door.  I admit that it does look nice, and it’s convenient to use it throughout the day instead of the large wood door–mostly because the kid either slams it, or won’t close it at all.

As to whether or not it helps with ventilation–I don’t know yet, because since I installed it it’s been about 90 out and humid.  Ohio weather (kind of makes me wonder again why we bothered with this).

I’ll just be content in that it looks nice.

Nose prints within minutes

–Simon

Rhubarb (Part 2)

As part of our ongoing suggestion to the neighbor’s kids to stay off my lawn, the raised bed project continues.  And this time, the ancient rhubarb has made it to the next plot.

The plant was eager, having provided us multiple desserts last year despite growing in just a few inches of potted soil, so I expect it’ll be even more productive now.

It also seems like one more official step to making the land part of the Moorhead clan lineage, as it now hosts a portion of the official Moorhead Rhubarb.

And, stay off my lawn!

–Simon

Sweet, Savory, and Bitter

There’s a balance to cuisine.  I say that simply, not in the way Zen philosophers obsess eternally to achieve celebrity validation when Halle Berry, the guest judge on Iron Chef, says: “I like this.”…do.  No, it’s far simpler.  Foods have 3 properties: sweet, savory (salty/acidic), and bitter.  And it’s this last category that I had failed to consider.

I need to use these up before the new harvest

I’ve been on  a quest to make tomato sauce, but they always come up short, probably because I’m neither Italian nor have access to the list of unpronounceable Monsanto-patented ingredients (nor wish to).

My initial troubles involved flavor-enhancement.  An acid-base is common in sauces for the kick, but tomatoes, already being acidic, couldn’t handle the addition well, as the resultant sauce had an extreme sour bite.  I tried wine, vinegar, lemons, and most recently-powdered citric acid.  Then, to balance the sour, I added sugar for sweetness, but this only created a sweet/sour tomato sauce.

Fortunately, the Internet came to my rescue, and I discovered that cocoa powder would balance things out.  I was skeptical, since my sauce already had sugar, so it seemed that I would be adding a chocolate taste.  But I was wrong.

Bitterness–the oft-overlooked basic human taste, essential in this case.  And my sauce was good enough that Liz took more in for lunch the next day.  Now that’s a true culinary win!

–Chef Simon

Laminate

Carpet–I know not whence this diabolical invention first saw universal fruition, but I rue that day.

The Internet was of little help, spouting the usual assortment of trendy anti-(insert whatever’s popular here) sentiments.  And I, one of these confrontational assholes, would agree.  I hate it, and whoever invented it should spend eternity in a vat of histamine, forever sneezing and itching in anaphylaxis, yet never able to escape the ailment.

Compounding the misery was the result of a whippet’s predilection for misidentification, for so readily does carpet endlessly absorb the liquified proteins of urinary putrification.

And further compounding the problem is a human female’s oversensitivity to olfactorial displeasure.

So it was that I found myself ripping up the carpet in the hallway.  The late whippets, always naughty and leaking, favored this spot as a preferable alternative to the bitter cold of Ohio winters, despite the physical punishments that would ensue from such transgressions.

Another futile attempt at deodorizing the carpet

What I found beneath was sheer horror.  Over the decades, dirt had sifted its way through until a fine layer of soil covered the sub-flooring.  Extensive vacuuming and Lestoil-scrubbing later, the floor appeared to be painted white–at least what the floor cleaner didn’t strip.

Liz scrubbed the floor with baking soda and vinegar, then let it dry until the next weekend.

And so began the hard part.  The hallway, being narrower than the boards were long, required that I had to cut every single piece to fit.  Adding to the complexity was the oddly-shaped linen closet.  Fortunately I had watched enough preparatory YouTube videos that I knew how to hammer segments into connecting, even when wedged around tight corners.

Then there was the problem of the end strips not locking to the floor properly, but a few hammer blows and swear words and emergency runs to the hardware store fixed that problem.  The end result was never in question.

An afternoon was required to dismantle the existing flooring, and 11 hours of straight labor to install the new.  But like all things in life worth having, it wasn’t supposed to be easy–yes, that’s right, philosophical reaffirmations from flooring installations.

Then I had to install new moulding, which was equally as bad as the flooring.  My supply of finishing nails dwindled, and I bought a box at Home Depot.  But the nails lacked the head notch, so my driver continually slipped and punctured the moulding.  A return visit yielded no better alternative, for the associate stared blankly when asked if they stocked another brand of nails.  I made due with what I had.

I estimate this project to have taken 30 hours of work.  It sucked, but I have to admit: it is better than a cesspit corridor.  The kid seems to agree:

–Simon

Steam Power

I’ve been known to play games.

…but usually not seriously, unless it’s by Bethesda or Bungie.  But let’s back up…

The family computer was originally some variant of the Macintosh Classic–an all-in-one machine with a black and white display.  The first game I played, and one my mother was obsessed with, was Crystal Quest.

Of course everyone else had Windows machines, and so knew nothing about the games I played.  They played Doom, Fallout, and Quake; I played Marathon, Myth, and Avernum.  Consequently, I learned that my gaming background would simply be forever different than that of most peoples’.

But I also learned that games are diabolical abominations of coding, and that the mere effort to get them to even operate on a computer was, if not a feat of engineering, then one of extreme patience.

So after years of gaming on computers and their multitude of problems, I bought an Xbox–a machine designed for the sole purpose of gaming (despite Microsoft’s ongoing attempts to make it a social platform).  But some games simply cannot be played effectively on a console, and as I’m completely unwilling to use Windows unless I have to, I’ve been eying Valve’s Steam.

For those who don’t know, Steam is an online distribution and DRM platform.  I hadn’t considered computer gaming in years, due to my lack of a dedicated machine and desk (and the lingering memories of technical difficulties), but with the completion of my recent command center, and with the Ubuntu computer working admirably, it seemed like a good time to try.

I visited their website, found the Linux installer, and completed the installation.  And it didn’t work.  Turns out that Ubuntu has its own distro of Steam, which I was able to install rather simply from the command line.  It lacks the happy GUI, but that was of minor consequence.  I created an account, found a free game, and downloaded it.  And it worked!

The downside of attempting to turn a Linux machine into a gaming platform was the obvious lack of game choices available.  I had hoped they’d be more prevalent, but a cursory preview only yielded a handful of anime adventures (most of which turned out to be pornography).  So it’s a success in that it works, but a failure in that its catalog so far contains nothing of interest.

Ah well, it’s not like I need to spend more time gaming anyway.  I guess that, for now, I’ll have to game socially in my living room like a normal person.

–Simon