Saturday, May 31st, 2003
We had all Ellen's cousins over today for a barbecue, and everyone had a good time. The rain held off just long enough for us to have lunch outside -- it was drizzling a bit while I worked the grill, and we all sat on the porch -- and then started pouring, which it still is doing. I just now looked at the rain gutters and noticed that I need to clear out some debris, especially from the one in back of the house. I will do that tomorrow morning.
Thursday, May 29th, 2003
Tonight I screwed together one wall of the sandbox and planed it fairly smooth. On the way home I had an idea for how I could avoid needing to worry about the squareness of the through holes (see below); I would re-mark those holes on the bottom of each board and drill from the bottom. As it turned out this seemed like too much work so I just drilled from the marks I made yesterday; and it seemed to work fine.
My idea for planing was that since I am not particularly worried about straightness, I could go straight to the smooth plane. I tried this out and it seemed to work pretty well. The douglas fir planes pretty easily except where there are knots; and my ECE smoother can handle the knots. I got one section of really bad tearout when I was starting out; but it is on the inside of the sandbox toward the bottom (where it will be quite covered with sand), so I am going to leave it and figure noone will ever know.
I will need about 12 cubic feet of sand for this, which it looks like will weigh ½ ton. I am thinking I will get the sand in two trips but I will contact dad to check if that is a necessary precaution.
Update: Yep, Dad thinks it would be a good idea to take two trips.
I'm building a sandbox for Sylvia and I came up with a pretty neat technique for marking the screw holes. The sides of the box are going to be 2X4's screwed together to make a wall 3½" wide and 7½" tall, with a 2X6 on top to provide a wider ledge. Reducing sanding work requires that I get the boards aligned as well as possible when I am screwing them together. There is an offset in the length of the boards so that the walls will interlock at the corners. So:
I made a story stick as long as the length of the walls, excluding the corners. I marked the stick with 6 points, 3 pairs of points about an inch apart and roughly equidistant along the length of the stick. I used my marking gauge to scribe a line down the center of each board and marked the end which will be going into a corner with an "X". Then I transferred the marks from the story stick to each board, working from the end with no "X"; one of each pair I marked "x" and the other "o"; the "x"'s are to be screwed into and the "o"'s are to receive the heads of screws. Each top board got only "o"'s, each bottom board only "x"'s. Now I'm all set to go!
The only worrisome point now is that the through holes, those that receive the head of a screw, need to be quite square to the surface of the board. I was thinking I would use the drill press here but on second thought that does not seem to make sense. I believe I will just try my best with the hand drill.
Monday, May 26th, 2003
Today I put stones in the back yard to make a path between the lawn and the driveway. They were slate that I took out of the ground at the back of the garage. Very thick, about 2", so I dug holes of the appropriate shape to receive them. It worked out very well -- although a couple of them rock very slightly, I am thinking that will go away after they get walked on some. If not, I will take them up and redo.
I am seeing this as practice for the back patio, which is going to be a huge project. Maybe I will do that during my August vacation. For that I need to: measure the area of the patio; buy stones and sand; take up the old stones; level the ground; put the old and new stones down.
Friday, May 23rd, 2003
I was most happy tonight to find a good restaurant not too far away from our house (raising the count to 2 full-service restaurants and a couple of miscellaneous fooderies) -- Leone's Kitchen in Montclair, corner of Bloomfield and South Park. (Or "So. Park" as the street sign would have it.) Mussels marinara were okay -- but the marinara sauce in which they were served was far better than okay, it grew on me to the point where I was wolfing it down by the spoon full. Followed by pork chops gambiotta (? this is not the name of the dish -- it is however a fair approximation) which knocked me for a loop. Seared enough on the outside to have a little smokey flavor and a nice texture, quite tender within; and the vegetables around and on top of them were excellent.
Then we went to the used bookstore across the street, which Ellen had been to before but I had not; what a great store! On a par with Moe's, or at least Shakespeare & Co. (Berkely, not Paris). Lots of great stuff; I ended up with Fine Furniture for the Amateur Cabinetmaker by A.W. Marlow, and Krazy Kat: the Cartoon Art of George Herriman, plus a book of historic photographs of South Orange.
Ellen's keeping me up to date -- she just called in to let me know what Sylvia's doing. She started playing with the belt from my bathrobe:
"It's a caterpillar."
"It's a very long caterpillar."
"It's my favorite one."As we were talking Sylvia put the belt around her shoulders and said, "I'm getting ready." Then Ellen put her on the phone, and she laughed and laughed.
I had a good time playing with Sylvia yesterday evening -- when I came home she was in a really good mood; we played with her stuffed animals, blocks, trains, etc. for a good two hours. She can stack a very tall pile of blocks before it falls over -- she would not let me count them but I think it must have been 10 or 11 blocks high! Also a long sentence, "My kitty cat is not feeling well."
Thursday, May 22nd, 2003
I met Jim Tuesday night at a mead tasting (more specifically a T'ej tasting) -- it was a meeting of the NYC Home Brewers' Association, at Brewsky's on 7th Street between 2nd and 3rd. Before I went I had been drinking beer with Gary at Zum Schneider -- I mention this because I want to note, Erdecker Maibock is a very fine beer, I would be glad to drink some more of it. Anyway, my feeling on the matter is basically that mead is not going to replace beer in my affections anytime soon. I quite liked one mead, a rosemary flavored one that one of the home brewers had made -- all the others just tasted bad.
Then we went to a Japanese place for dinner and I drank some sake, ended up pretty high, and rode home on the train with Michael -- Ellen ran into Jim (Cross) Wednesday and he asked if I had slept in that morning -- so apparently I am the subject of neighborhood gossip now...
Monday, May 19th, 2003
My birthday party was last night and I quite enjoyed it, though not many people were there. Got a nice blues tape from Janice and a bag from Gary & Suzy. Ed gave me a cd -- it is MP3 format so listening will have to wait until I am multi-media-capable.
Update: I just found out, Mark Kleiman and Matt Yglesias are also born May 18th; Matt is 22 and Mark is 52, so I'm 11 years older than Matt and 19 younger than Mark.
Friday, May 16th, 2003
While I was buying peanuts today from a news vendor I witnessed a kind of funny transaction -- a man came up and asked the vendor for matches (a few times, as the vendor was dealing with another man buying a number of lotter tickets.) The vendor eventually took notice and handed the man a lighter. He said no, no, matches. The vendor then said "Matches, 5 cents!" So the man grumbled, fished out a dime and handed it over. The vendor gave him matches and a quarter, and he said hey, why are you giving me a quarter. The vendor refused to acknowledge that he had given incorrect change, repeating a few times "It's a nickel" even when the man showed him the quarter. So the man walked away, 15 cents richer.
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