Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Santa's Workshop Update

Well the television/quilt display case has been assembled and not a moment too soon. It is my biggest piece of freestanding furniture I have built thus far and I learned a few things. When temperatures are barely above freezing, glue sets up fast even if the bottle has been inside all night where it was warm. When I glued the main carcass together, one of my clamps slipped while I was applying the others and as a result, one of the middle dividers pulled out from its dado a bit. It really isn't noticeable from the front but it is from the back. Fortunately that side will be against the wall.

Also, glue that sets up quickly is hard to clean up. In a normal project, I take a wet rag and clean up any glue squeeze out that occurs and thus when I go to stain, I don't get splotches. This time I ended up with frozen bits of glue smeared everywhere which means I will have to be meticulous when I do my final sanding or I will end up with splotching everywhere.

I never seem to learn this next fact despite it biting me in the butt from time to time. As I was applying the hardwood trim to the plywood edges, I kept getting gaps like I was making angled cuts. I really only noticed it when I was cutting a board on edge. Finally I grabbed the square and checked my miter saw. It was square to the fence but was not square to the bed. It was off by about one degree. When I carried it downstairs in a wheelbarrow during the garage remodel and then back up, I must have bumped it hard enough to knock it loose. Not really anything that a little wood putty can't hide but it sure caused me some frustrations.

The one disadvantage to using cabinet plywood is that you have to be careful sanding it so you don't sand through the veneer layer. I did in one spot and on the top no less where my hardwood edging ended up below the level of the veneer. It sucks and I'm sure I will notice it every time I will walk by the thing but you know what, it lets people know that it was hand built. Besides, it adds character.

The above picture is one that I took before sanding. As of writing this, I have rough sanded it and did some wood putty work. Hopefully tomorrow I can do the final sanding and perhaps this weekend, apply the stain. I've never stained when it is cold and being that it will probably be in the upper 30's when I do, I'm not sure how it will go. Worst case, I have to open the door to the house and heat the garage for a little bit to get the stain to cure so I can apply the protective polyurethane coats. I still have 13 days until Christmas (as of writing this), so I think I will be able to get it done in time.

Monday, December 15, 2014

School Project Blues

So as good meaning teachers are sometimes want to do, they sent home a school project that requested a significant investment of the parent's time to help their child complete. Basically this project was to create a presentation complete with a handmade artifact, about Christmas in a foreign country. All would have been good if my child had been assigned Chile or Zimbabwe or so country in which we have no earthly knowledge of Christmas practices but our child got the Philippines instead. Mama being Filipino, takes all things relating to her home country personally.

So we have spent several evenings hunting down things to include on the poster board presentation part and I spent several hours out in the garage making a parol which is a shooting star made out of bamboo and tissue paper. Being fresh out of bamboo, I cut thin strips of pine, glued them, steamed them so they could be bent into the proper shape and let everything dry. I thought that would be the extent of my involvement but I forgot about the one line in the directions stating that all pictures on the poster board must be in color.

I gave up on color printers a couple  years ago since I rarely used the color, it was very expensive to replace the cartridges which is why I always had it turned on black and white mode and still it went through the colors cartridges like candy. Instead I bought a nice black and white laser printer which prints fast, neatly and the cartridges last forever. So our options seemed to be to go to the local library and pay money to use their color printer, go to the school during school hours and use theirs, or just to print the pictures at the local same day print shop at the drugstore. We chose the latter option.

Trip one: We pull into a packed parking lot early one evening and make an attempt but the photo department has four or five people standing in line and people using the photo kiosks. We decide to go grab a bit to eat and come back later.

Trip two: A couple hours later we return to the store but the pictures my wife saved onto a thumb drive from the internet are too low of resolution to even print. So it is back home again.

Trip three: Not wanting to wait through long lines, I show up the next morning five minutes before opening and am first in line at the door. When it opens I make a beeline to the kiosk and in five minutes, the five pictures have been ordered. It tells me they will be ready in fifteen minutes. So I do a little bit of stocking stuffer shopping and come back to the counter twenty minutes later. The lady asks if she can help me and I tell her I'm just waiting for my pictures. "Oh honey," she says, "I have 800 pictures to do before yours. It will be several hours still."

As I found out, you can evidently submit orders online overnight for next morning pickup and they take precedent over those submitted in the store and no, they can slip my five pictures in between anywhere. Well hells bells. So I had to drive all the way back across town only to make a fourth trip sometime later today to pick up the pictures. I've probably spent four or five dollars on gas now just to print off five pictures for $1.37. It is no wonder I find myself becoming a hermit and avoiding all this insanity until after the first of the year when everyone returns back to their normal lives.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Santa's Workshop

In between all the other stuff involved with siding the house, I've been in my workshop playing Santa for my parents. I suppose like most adult parents, they are hard to find gifts for. They have plenty of money and buy the things they need. The things they don't need they just don't want. Lately I've been giving them gift certificates to various local dining establishments because everyone needs to eat. However, after mentioning how much she liked my built in bookshelves, my mom hinted a few times over this past year at how nice it would be to have something similar in their living room.

After questioning her over Thanksgiving, similar turned out to be completely different. She wanted a free standing shelf to display quilts instead of books and put their television on top. So after searching here and there over the internet, I found something similar that could be scaled and adjusted to serve her purposes. A load of wood later and I was on my way to building it. 

Just due to the cost of wood these days, I usually start off most furniture projects building a carcass out of cabinet grade plywood. You don't have to worry about joining large panels of solid wood. Of course the edges of plywood aren't the most pleasant thing to look at so I use hardwood to cover everything up and give it a more solid appearance. Below is the middle part of the quilt shelf/television stand after being face in solid wood minus two missing pieces for the vertical dividers. Next I will build a small pedestal assembly to get it up off the ground a little bit and build a top to balance everything out. I'll show more on that in a later post.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

My Ethnicity

Years ago when I started to really dig deep into my genealogy, I took a DNA test which among other things provided you with an ethnicity map showing where your ancestors came from. The map I received looked very much like the one above which was neat, but didn't contain a lot of detail. Since then, the company that administered the test has revamped their results and provided a lot more information to me. Included now is a list showing exact percentages of my DNA that coincides with ethic groups in specific regions of the world. My list is as follows:

Great Britain - 63%
Western Europe (France and Germany region) - 23%
Scandinavia (Norway and Sweden) - 5%
Ireland - 4%
Iberian (Spain) - 2%
Italy/Greece - < 1%
Caucasus (Turkey/Syria/Iran/Iraq region) - < 1%
North Africa - < 1%

In summary, I'm about as white as can be at 98% European. I'm not really surprised but I was hoping for perhaps a little more exotic blood in me from somewhere, perhaps even Native American blood. Alas, it is not to be. Most of the ancestors that I have traced back across the ocean have led me to Great Britain so it really isn't a surprise that almost two-thirds of me goes back there. I also have a number of ancestors from Germany so that too doesn't surprise me. What does surprise me is that my Scandinavian percentage is more than my Ireland percentage. I have traced a handful of ancestors across the ocean to Ireland but have not traced one back to Norway or Sweden.  I also haven't traced any back to Spain, Italy, Greece or the Middle East or northern Africa either but my DNA doesn't lie so they are back there somewhere.

That doesn't surprise me either because of the hundreds of direct ancestors I have traced, I have only traced a couple dozen back overseas. The vast majority of my ancestors simply disappear into the 18th century when paper records were not kept as often or preserved for eternity. They were here before we were the United States of America, possibly as colonists or even descendants from the Mayflower. Perhaps someday I will find more paper trails but to do so, I'm going to have to travel and dig through old archives that probably never will be digitized. Maybe then, I will discover some Scandinavian ancestors to explain that 5% of me that courses with their blood.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Egg Damage

One of my favorite things to do with leftover smoked turkey is to make some smoked turkey salad sandwiches. It is a play off of tuna or ham salad and consists of the smoked turkey, dill pickles, onion, hard boiled eggs and some mayonnaise to bind everything together. As you can probably guess, I ran into some problems this time around.

I put some eggs into a pan with some water and put them on the stove to boil. I decided to run some things down into the basement while I was waiting for the boiling to start and thus I could set the timer for ten minutes to obtain perfectly hard boiled eggs. That was the last I remembered of the eggs until later that evening.

I was sitting in the living room and I heard a pop coming from the front hall/kitchen area. I didn't know what it had been and I didn't hear the noise again so I put it out of my mind. More time passes and this time my wife, who has joined me in the living room hears the pop and goes into the kitchen except she smells something burning. The light bulb went on and I knew what was burning too. As you can see, the water boiled completely away and the eggs sat in the pan until they literally exploded. I put them in some water and let them soak in the refrigerator over night. I did peel one in the morning but a large part of the egg inside had also been singed and the remainder tasted terrible so I ended up throwing them out and starting over. This time I stayed by the stove until the water began to boil so I could set the timer.