Saturday, March 29, 2014

Random ramblings

So, the imp has let me know that he really likes the Johnny Cash greatest hits CD that my in-laws copied off for us.  "Mama, I want to listen to that music.  It's got fire.  It's got a fire ring.  And it burns!"  He's listened to it every night in the bathtub since I put the CD player in the bathroom.

I put Within Temptation's The Unforgiving on the CD player in the living room, last night, and discovered that the kids are happier with music to play by than they are with something they have to sit still and watch.  They just don't like a quiet house.

Thing is, I not only don't mind a house full of music, I actively like it.

Now, all I have to do is make sure they don't knock themselves into corners of things in the living room while they're dancing.  I don't need to be investigated for beating them, when they're hurting themselves because they're not hearing me when I tell them to stop what they're doing.

I ended up having to cut the pixie's bangs last night.  They were hanging into her eyes, and she was starting to run into things.

It's really hard to cut her hair--it's got a lot of random curl to it (some is straight, some is...decidedly not, and sometimes the straight and the curly are right next to each other).  Her bangs, in particular, tend to curl under.  So, while her hair was wet from being washed last night, I combed her bangs down--and wet, they went to the end of her nose, even though they were barely in her eyes dry--and trimmed them to her eyebrows.  This morning, with her hair dry, and the curl in full evidence, her bangs are halfway between her eyebrows and her hairline.  It's relatively cute on her, but with the uneven curl, she's got some bits that look longer than the rest.

She gets to go pick out a dolly, today.  She's gone a whole week without wearing a pull-up.

Now, we just have to wean her off of using the potty chair and onto the toilet, and she'll be completely potty trained.

I'll keep a handful of pull-ups around for times when the kids are too sick to want to get up to go use the bathroom.  It's happened, a couple of times.

Does anyone else have a cat that likes to steal foam earplugs (related to, but different from a ferret that eats rubber butt-pads on rifles)?  I do.  Shadow has stolen one of the pair I keep on my nightstand two nights in a row: she nudges the pillowcase I hide them under out of the way, then she picks one up and slinks off to hide in the new black bookcase.  Thinks she's hidden.  She would be, when I don't wear my glasses, but for one thing: she purrs loud enough to hear from down the hall when she's got one of my orange foam earplugs. 

What she does when she gets it away is funny: she lays it down, pins it under a paw, and nuzzles it.

But.  I need those for bad allergy nights.

The pets get shut in the pantry overnights, partially because there's not a door separating the living area from the sleeping area (and the pets are NOISY while the kids are sleeping), and partially because the living room has too many toys that are too tempting for a small dog to chew on.

Last night, Cricket somehow got missed.  I got up this morning to find the big, spastic kitty running around crying.  I think she woke the pixie, yowling in the hall, trying to find somebody, anybody, to pet her.  Or feed her.  Or feed her and pet her.  When I went back to let the other critters out (and let the dog out into the front yard on her extra-long leash for her morning doody), Cricket nearly knocked me down, running into the back of my knee on her way to the litter box.

The dog...has been a happy dog, except for Thursday, when we had rain and she had to spend most of the day inside.  She loves her outdoor pen.

Odysseus wants to try jacking the middle of the deck in the back up, and putting supports under the middle.  Does anyone have any experience with doing deck repairs like that?  Whoever built our deck to start with built it HUGE (it's 12' from the back door to the steps, and 17' side to side).  With only the four corner posts sunk into the ground.  There.  Is. No. Support.  The middle is sagging a good six or eight inches lower than the sides.  The whole thing, frame and all, is built of 2x4s and 2x6s, with the only 4x4s being the corners.  And the planking needs replaced, and so do the steps.  Anybody have any advice on what to do?  I'm afraid the wood will split, and we'll just need to tear it down anyway.

This is not my preference, but Odysseus's.  I think he just wants to be able to make big deck jokes.

I picked up paper 4 (I teach five per semester) on Thursday.  Didn't get around to downloading and grading papers from email until last night.  Didn't get around to grading until last night, but still got almost half done.  I think tonight may well see me finished, and if not, it won't take longer than Monday to get done.  They took the proposal format and ran with it.  I've had a few of my excellent students turn in work not quite up to their usual standards, but everybody seems to have done pretty well.  So far.  I started with the good class, not the one that's not so good.

I'm hoping to be able to send my children's book to my favorite cover artist tonight or tomorrow.  I think it may come out about the same time as Pendragon Resurgent.  I hope the little girl I wrote it for likes it.  I wasn't very flattering to childhood behaviors.  I wasn't aiming them at her--I've seen the exact same behaviors exhibited in my own children (except for the cutting of their own hair, since I don't trust them with scissors at all).  And I don't like it in any child I see, so I was less than flattering about the behaviors and the whining. But I think I was accurate.

I've decided what I'm going to do about the epilogue for Pendragon Resurgent.  I'm going to write it separately, and see if it improves the story, or if it just...sits there.  If it doesn't improve the story, I can just cut it, and hold it back for a possible new series in the world.

I do not, however, want to become Mercedes Lackey.  If you don't know what I mean, start looking into her Valdamar series: several sets of books, all set in the same world.  They are awesome stories, but...after a certain point, it just strikes me as a naked money-grab.

Although, I have nothing against naked money grabs.  I could certainly use a chance at it.

17 comments:

  1. Jaqueline Carey had a great first trilogy, a decent second trilogy, and I haven't bothered reading anything she wrote after that.

    But then again, John Ringo also writes sci fi smut, so evidently it sells pretty well.

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    1. I've read Carey's first trilogy, and enjoyed the story around the smut. I really liked Carey's The Sundering duo--actually liked it better, since it was all story, no smut. I loved Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series until it went from urban fantasy/horror to pornography.

      I have one that does have smut in it in the queue to be written, but it's just that: in the queue. After a while, reading sex gets boring to me. I won't write more than one book with sex in it, no matter how well they sell. I can't write something I find boring to read very well.

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  2. Here's my suggestion for the deck, if Odysseus gets some support blocks similar to the link;

    http://www.homedepot.com/p/Titan-Block-10-5-in-x-7-25-in-x-10-5-in-Concrete-Deck-Block-101523/204840962

    my suggestion is to use 12 of these or a similar block, if they're spaced at 3 foot intervals each way, 4 rows side to side and 3 rows back door to steps, that should give excellent bracing for the deck. Also, O should get 2 boxes of 2.5" wood screws for maikng sure all the timbers are securely tied together. If there's not a hd or lowes near you, the local hardware store should have something that will work.

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  3. oops, typo alert, that should be "making" :/

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    1. Thanks, Grog--big help. I had no clue how much bracing we'd need, and no clue how to go about it.

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  4. Try some Hank Williams Jr, Charlie Pride, and Porter Waggoner , maybe a little Marty Robins, with your son. Sounds like he has inherently good taste in music.

    When you start talking about getting under something heavy and jacking it up, I get nervous. My dad dropped a truck on himself that way, and even my crazy brother T hired a professional to do the repairs on his back porch, rather than crawl under there himself.

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    1. It's attached at all four corners, just sagging in the middle. It's ugly and splintery, not unsafe.

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  5. I'll add to Grog's post: Place some concrete pads under the blocks to help displace the weight. As far as jacking up the structure, a small, inexpensive hydraulic jack of about 1.5 tons should be plenty of jack. Since the sag is so severe, taking the sag out over a few weekends is probably best. This will allow the wood to assume the new shape and the load to transfer evenly.

    Also, they make deck boards for the planking, which can be treated wood or plastic. There is a special screw for decks, that won't rust, or bleed like a galvanized fastener.

    It's best to insure the support members are level, without sags before replacing the planking. If this step is avoided, leveling can cause the new boards to pop loose, or have spaces wider than normal.

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    1. You're beginning to make me think that Odysseus's plan to save money is going to cost more in both time and money than tearing out the deck and replacing it with a brick paver patio.

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    2. I don't want to be a killjoy, but removing a deck that has planks fastened with inexpensive screws can be daunting. The heads usually are so corroded, they strip out and removal requires a stout wrecking bar and some elbow grease, which is the same method for the planks if nails were used.

      Even with good fasteners, plank removal is a task. Every fastener requires a screw gun, or electric drill.

      After removal, all structural members need to be checked, since they can deteriorate, or the fasteners loosened by time and wood expansion. If the wood at the fastener is to the point the fastener won't hold securely, a new fastener needs installing, and it's best to remove the old one, to reduce wood splitting.

      It's all work, and if you're removing all the planks, a substantial part of complete removal is already accomplished.

      Personally, I prefer a brick, or concrete paver. Decks are great, but usually required for elevated surfaces. If a few steps are all that's required to bring you to the level of the ground, the pavers - if installed in a sand bed, with good drainage - are a once in a lifetime project, which needs little, to no maintenance. Besides that, additions can be made at a leisurely pace, and children can be valuable helpers as they carry one paver at a time, which prevents constantly getting up to retrieve more pavers.

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    3. I'd prefer the patio, too. The deck is nice, but even if it were in perfect condition, we'd still have to do something about fixing the yard--there's nothing keeping the dog or the kids from going under the deck and out the side. The fencing stops at the corner of the deck. And I can't help but think it'd be simpler to get some more chain link fencing and extend it the twelve feet from where it is to the corner of the house.

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  6. Unfortunately, H, maintaining a home is never inexpensive. ;) Jess does have a good point, though his idea will depend on the ground under the deck, if it's prone to turn into mud the extra surface area will be essential so the block doesn't sink and cause the deck to warp after it's been rebuilt.

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    1. We've budgeted for the expense. It's the difficulty that I'm getting worried about, and that there may be no difference between fixing the deck and creating a patio.

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  7. A easy beam to make is one out of three lengths of 2x6 or 2x8 with 1/2"plywood (not OSB) that is cut to width sandwiched between the 2X's. A layered 2x6 beam like this will support most houses let alone a deck.
    Lay out the first full length of the 2x's (bow to the top), then liquid nails, then a length of the plywood, then more liquid nails, then another length of the 2x's, using 10d nails nail this length of 2x's through what will be the middle 2x to the bottom layer 2x, then more liquid nails, another layer of the plywood, more liquid nails, then the final layer of the 2x's, nail this to the middle 2x, then turn this beam over and nail the bottom 2x to the middle 2x. The resulting beam will hold much more than just 2x's nailed together. Green 2x6x10 run around $10 each, one sheet of 1/2" green plywood about $25, 4 tubes of liquid nails $8 and two pounds of 10d nails $10. Another thing, cut the length of the 2x's and plywood so that the end seams do not match. The hard part is getting pillars to stay at the proper height. Have used shortened floor support tubes with screw plates and other times jacked up and added or removed wood between the beam and ground to match the heaving. Use at least two jacks to raise the beam and deck, three jacks would be easier. If you go with a brick / paver patio that is on the ground, to do it right is almost like pouring a cement slab with lots of time, effort and money involved.

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    1. I'm beginning to think we need to hire this done.

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  8. Ah, yes, orange foam earplugs. My cat Max does more than just steal them. He steals them, nuzzles them and then eats them! I've seen him steal and nuzzle them. I know he eats them because they come out in the same condition they went in! It is quite an interesting sight when one is cleaning the litter box! ;-)

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    1. I've found mouse remains in our litter box. Skulls, sometimes part of a rib cage. I've found tails with the end still bloody dropped in the cats' food dish, too.

      I haven't yet found foam earplugs in the litter box. I have found bits of colored poop in the yard where the dog goes--not sure if she's eating chalk or crayons.

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