Monday, September 17, 2007

Transcriptions II

Blogger is encouraging me to update to the new version. Everything will be easier, but I will have to re-load recently added content. So Transcriptions will be discontinued and Transcriptions II will be started.

As a transition between the Transcriptions, I'll be posting the last of the window sill pictures shortly.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Window Sills

(Window work must be genetic.)

One of my projects for this summer was to do some maintenance and repair on our window sills. For the most part, this involved a little bit of scraping and sanding followed by application of MinWax Wood Hardener. And once everything was prepped, priming and painting.

Everything went according to plan until I started on the window in our master bathroom. I knew this sill had been damaged by water dripping from a leaky eave trough because it was soft in several places. (The eave troughs still leak, but we now have aluminum triple-track windows installed so additional damage has been minimized.) Also, it is a window in a bathroom; so there's just a lot of moisture. And we see the occasional carpenter ant in this room in the spring and summer. But it didn't look as bad as it was.

I began scraping and peeling up the layers of paint. Sadly, soft wood came up with the paint, revealing several deep gouges in the sill. So after scraping the paint, removing the soft wood and applying wood hardener to everything that was left, the window sill looked like this:

And this:

Clearly beyond my skill level. Nonetheless, I decided to tackle the job. Thank goodness for the internet and the MinWax Wood Filler tipsheet. We happened to have dowels of various diameters (remnants from Abbie IV's fencing practice); I cut them down to size and put them in the gaps, as recommended by the tipsheet:

The wood filler can warns you that it will start hardening in 15 minutes. Heck, it took me 15 minutes just to think about opening the can. Scary. I mixed up the wood filler and started filling in the gaps, gouges and gulches. It was kind of a slathering mess with a smooth, thick oatmeal consistency. And it did indeed start getting hard and tacky after 10-15 minutes.

After putting on the filler and smoothing it (sort of), it now looks like this:

So now it has to finish setting. The directions say 30 minutes. I think it's better to be safe, so I'll give it overnight, at a minimum. The next step is sanding to smooth out the ridges and lumps (I didn't quite make it under the 15 minute limit); then priming and painting.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

UW's Concrete Canoes

Badgers do a 'fivepeat' to rule 20th concrete canoe event

UW Badger team owns the concrete canoe event. Below is an explanation from a former team member and my fabulous niece:

Go Badgers!!!

Just the fact that I participated in Concrete Canoe and Steel Bridge is an enormous reason for why I've been hired at great firms in the past.

Alors, the UW Madison Concrete Canoe team /*follows the rules*/. This may seem quite simple however, it takes hours of dedication and some nights of sleeping in the lab to accomplish. A hefty packet of rules comes out each year which has various changes from the previous season. The majority of these changes pertain to the concrete mix itself (the amounts of water, cement, ash, glass beads, etc). We paid a lot of attention to this and up to 40 different mixes were cast into cylinders, tested under ASTM standards, and documented in the technical report - another portion of the competition. A surprising amount of teams do not entirely obey these concrete mix regulations and, thus, get disqualified.

This is all good and proper, but UW takes it 100 steps further with the amount of time each teammate dedicates to the effort. Let's not forget the races. The paddlers on our team practice together as though they were training for the Tour de France. This is clear if you've ever been to a Concrete Canoe competition.

Another thing that always makes us stick out is that our concrete canoe literally feels as smooth as glass. When I was on the team (and I'm guessing they still do this), shifts were set up so that several students were in the lab sanding the canoe - all day long for many days. This helps with the aesthetics portion of our score.

Beyond that, the technical presentation is practiced many, many times and the co-chairs always put canoe before everything else for that school year. Several sub-committees are set up to allow for more concentrated efforts on each division of the competition as well as _fund raising_! The companies which support the team are really what allow us to be so successful since, without them, we'd never be able to afford all the needed supplies for the mix and mold. UW takes it extremely seriously, but we have tons of fun (for lack of a much less cliche expression).

Joining the team was undoubtedly one of the best decisions I made in my college career, along with my beloved, but far less known, Steel Bridge Team (which demands just as much time and effort).

Well I tried to make this as brief as possible, but there is much to say about the Concrete Canoe team.

Please do not hesitate with more questions! I enjoy reminiscing.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Boston & Providence (4)

On Thursday we headed back down to Providence to do some Rhode Island sightseeing, to move the roommates belongings from the basement storage up to the apartment and to stock up on supplies for Abbie's apartment.

Providence is a very livable city and Brown University is right next to downtown, so Abbie knows the city pretty well. She was delighted to show off her campus and her town. We walked along the river to Providence Place, we wandered through the campus and, of course, ate at some good restaurants.

Friday started out as a work day which meant moving the boxes and bags of belongings from the basement to the apartment -- which is on the third floor of the house, of course. We took a run out to Seekonk, MA, which is the shopping Mecca of the area. We took care of business at Sam's Club, Wal-Mart and the big grocery store.

We capped off the day, and the trip, with dinner at the Red Stripe and a visit to WaterFire. Very nice.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Boston & Providence (3)

Wednesday dawned (well, late dawn) another beautiful day. Matt recommended the Edward Hopper Exhibit so we headed to the T station to hop on the Green line which took us practically to the front door of the Museum of Fine Art. The three of us went through the Hopper exhibit, then Abbie left to meet up with a friend from Brown who lives in Boston. Frank and I continued to go through the museum. After a couple of hours, we went to one of the museum restaurants for lunch. Then more museum browsing.

Late afternoon we hooked up with Abbie and her friend (Jason Lee) in the area near South Station. Abbie and Jason had spent the day at the New England Aquarium and had lunch at Legal Seafoods. Jason recommended The Daily Catch for a dinner, but was unable to join us. The restaurant had outdoor seating, near the water. The service was pretty slow -- apparently they were short-staffed due to the Steely Dan concert -- but the food was fabulous.

Abbie IV got black pasta (black due to the squid ink)

and Frank and I got Lobster Fra Diavolo for 2.

We split a bottle of wine, recommended by our long-suffering-with-too-many-tables waiter. The cappuccino that we ordered for dessert was so slow in coming that it was on the house. Since we were in no hurry, the slow service was no concern for us. And the wonderful food, great company and lovely location were all happily enjoyed during the long, slow meal.

The Green Line took us back to the hotel for our last night in Boston.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Boston & Providence (2)

The weather on Tuesday morning promised a beautiful day -- clear and cool. We walked to the Lechmere station and took the T to Boston Common to the start of the Freedom Trail. The Common was busy with tourists and guides in period dress. It was a work day, so the Trail, especially through the downtown area, was busy with regular working people as well. There are several old (very old by U.S. standards) graveyards early on the trail. We were intrigued by the skull with wings motif and the dancing skeletons that were present on many of the headstones. Pictures of the headstones and other sights from our trip can be seen here on my Picasa web album.

We stopped for an early lunch at a Sushi place in the business district of Boston. Abbie IV and Frank both got sushi; I got udann. We continued along the trail, enjoying all of the historical sites along the way. After walking over the bridge, we headed to the Naval Yard to take the tour of the Constitution. Our tour guide was from Crivitz, Wisconsin. He joined the Navy right out of high school, has been in for 10 years and been stationed in many foreign ports. We were only his second tour group and the photo I took of him and Abbie IV was only his third tourist photo. The Constitution tour was a real high point of the Freedom Trail for us.

We walked the Trail through Charlestown, up to Bunker Hill where Abbie climbed to the top of the monument. I thought this was a particularly pretty part of the Trail and enjoyed the neighborhood and the monuments along this part very much. We headed back the Trail to Boston and the Union Oyster House where we ate a couple of seafood dinners and Frank and I had a couple of beers.

We found a T station and went back to Cambridge and the hotel where we all put our feet up for a couple of hours; then went out for a late stroll. Then to bed.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Boston & Providence (1)

Abbie IV had five days of homelessness -- in between getting kicked out of the dorm and before the start of her sublet -- so we headed to New England to help with moving things into and out of storage and to provide housing. We spent Sunday (May 27) on the road and stayed the night in Waterbury Connecticut. We ate supper at Spartan's (moussaka for me, something with seafood for Frank), a great local restaurant that was recommended by the desk clerk.

Waterbury is just two and half hours from Providence, so we got an early start Monday morning and rolled up to Ab's dorm at around 10 am. The building she will be living in has secure storage and she had her belongings packed and ready to move to the basement. She was in charge of moving the possessions of her roommates and several friends, too. And there was another friend in a different building who was also using the storage. So we spent a couple of hours loading and unloading the Hyundai. All told, we moved the belongings of five students; including at least two computer monitors.

We re-loaded our stuff into the car then walked to Sawaddee Thai Restaurant for a late lunch. My crab fried rice was excellent. Boston is only about an hour from Providence, so we headed north, checked into our hotel in Cambridge, settled in, then walked around the neighborhood. Eventually, we started looking around for a place to eat dinner. Inspection of the menu at Helmand, an Afghan cuisine restaurant that we happened upon, showed an acceptable selection. The place was very nice and even though it was a little early for eating out, was somewhat busy. We were taken to a smaller back room (we weren't the only ones dressed casually, but maybe we were the only ones casually dressed without a reservation) where we ordered sea bass (shared by me and Frank) and something vegetarian for Ab. Everything was delicious. When we left, the place was packed.

Back to the hotel for web-surfing, relaxing and planning for Tuesday's activities.