Saturday, May 31, 2014

Horse Teeter Totter - Part 1

As part of our trade for a pool table, I needed to build a horse teeter totter. Tia has one, and I upgraded the top, but I needed to paint it to prevent slipping. That's the plan for tomorrow, so today was the assembly.

The idea for this is a basically a large, thin, rectangular box that the horse can walk on. It has a pivot, so it tilts and as they walk across it, it tilts the other way, just as if you walked across a playground see-saw.

The way I built this was the start with 2 8' pieces of 2x4 as the sides. Since I have 8' pieces for the top, this worked out fine. I measured and cut 4 cross braces, though I made them as bit long as we'll see. Once they were cut, I screwed them into the side.


Once all 4 were on, I put it on the ground, added the other side rail, and screwed that in.


It was at this point that I started to realize I had a problem. I put the 2x10s on the top, lining them up and realized that I was short about 2".


I could have unscrewed things, cut the braces and tried again, but I decided to try something else.


Once I had the pieces there, I added a 2x3" to the space. This just had the one part hanging over, and barely. I thought this was a decent setup, and since I can always trip the 2x10, I screwed everything together like this.


I spent a few minutes sanding, and tomorrow I'll get Tia's teeter totter and put it  next to this one and paint them both. I have paint with a non-stick granule additive that I think will do the trick.

Then it's adding a bottom and delivering it to my friend.


I need a few sawhorses for my flagpole. It's 22ft in length, and I'm thinking I need at least 4, perhaps 5 sawhorses in order to work on it properly. With that in mind, I went looking for plans last week. I didn't want to buy more, especially since many of them I've seen at the store don't last, don't work well, or aren't that strong.

I found a guy selling folding ones, and selling plans. I thought, hmm, I could do that, and embarked on a prototype last week. My thought was that I'd see if this worked, and then build more.


It didn't. Apart from being too low (though it was a test), I couldn't get the angles right and it wasn't as stable as I wanted. The folding thing is nice, but I think I can do better.

I searched again this week and found this guy's video and article. I wasn't impressed at first, but when I saw him show the strength and simplicity, I thought this was a good plan. I started off measuring things, marking up my wood.


Next I jointed the braces so they'd glue together cleanly. I also jointed the tops, even though that was a bit of overkill.


Once that was done, I glued the pieces together. No metal in here, just glue. I won't want to accidently get into trouble with cutting at some point.


While that was going on, I trimmed the ends of the legs. I had to shave off an angle, and I used the circular saw first, but that was a problem. I actually messed up a couple of them. I fixed things later, but a lesson learned.

I also had to dado out a place for the legs to attach. Once the glue dried, I used the circular saw to cut out a slow. Slow going, but I got it done.


Now time to put things together. Here's the first leg going on. I glued and screwed it to the cross brace.


From there, it was pretty easy to add the other four legs. I wasn't worried about glue drying here, so I turned it upside down right away and went to work on the angle braces made of plywood.


Here's the first finished one. It was fairly solid and level.


And strong!


I took a break, hit the store, and came back to finish the second one. I have parts for 2 more, but I needed to tackle a few other things today.

Volunteering as a Speaker

One of the things I noticed on the Habitat for Humanity – Denver site is that there is a speaker’s bureau. I was looking for a few other ways to help during the sabbatical, and thought this was right up my alley.

I emailed the contact, and included some of my speaking CV. We’ll see if they take me up, and if this is one of those things that will extend beyond this short time.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Sabbatical–Paid in Full

The sabbatical moves forward. I paid for college today, settling my bill for the woodworking class that starts on Tuesday.


I’m not thinking to do anything else until Tuesday afternoon when school starts and I get to class. I’m hoping these aren’t too many more costs other than materials here and there. I’m assuming there will be some, though I don’t know what projects we’ll be tackling, though I’m hoping for just some basic skills to improve my abilities.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Busted Trip

I had planned on painting the garage door for one of our rentals today. We got a note that we were out of compliance with the HOA and there was no phone number to get ahold of the management company. There was an email, but things went unanswered. I’ve been trying for a week to get there, but today was the first chance I had an opening. The kids were agreeable, so we packed up and headed out.

After some lunch, and a quick Home Depot stop to grab some supplies, we drove over. I was already worried when I got there as the clouds were covering and it looked like rain. However I thought we could knock it out. We went to the clubhouse, as directed, only to find that it’s not open every day. It’s open two days a week, but at least there was a phone number. I called and got someone, who explained I needed to go those two days or make an appointment. I did for after PT tomorrow, to at least get paint. Not sure I can paint as rain is called for, but at least I’ll be mostly there.

We looked at things, and I’m glad we couldn’t paint as it started raining as we drove down the road.

Not a successful trip, and a wasted hour, but at least we’re moving.


Kendall was amazing at practice yesterday. Both Tia and I went, watching what feels like the first practice in a long time. There were only six girls there, and things were a little slow to start. They played 3 on 3 in a half court, and were moving a little slow and not too competitive to start, but then they started to warm up and really try to score.

Next was a few drills, where Kendall had some good hits all around. She hit outside left, and then from the middle both moving left and looping right around the setter. Not great sets often, but some good hits from her.

After an hour, the 15 National (2s) team came over and we had a scrimmage. Our girls have struggled to beat them, losing 6 or so in a row across the practices. They hung close in this one, until they finally tied it at 21-21. The went on to win 26-24, but Kendall was great. With only six, she rotated around, and while she was careful and hesitant to hit hard shots, her defense was great. Some nice saves, some really good digs and even a few bump sets that came from the back row over to the right spot. Our girls have struggled with that for sure.

There was a bit of time, so they also scrimmaged a mixed 16 Elite (1s) and a 15 and an older girl and got killed, but our girls were tired and the 16s are also going to Nationals next month.

All in all a great practice, and hoping that Kendall feels confident (she said she was) and fitter from the cross fit.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The New Principal

I volunteered with our local school district to help interview new principal candidates for the high school. It was a neat experience, and while I can’t disclose anything, it was interesting to see many educators on the committee react and rate people differently than I did.

Looking forward to seeing who gets picked.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Sabbatical–Plate Joiner

One of the tools I need for building the flagpole is a plate joiner. This is a tool that cuts slots in wood that you fill with a little wooden piece called a biscuit. It’s a neat item that I’ve seen used before, but I’ve never owned one.

I ordered one from Amazon with a bit of bonus money from work and it arrived. I wanted to get working with it, but life got in the way, so it was a few days before I could get to it. My plan was to work with it today, maybe building a few simple drawers that I’ll use in the garage.

I haven’t read the manual, after all, who does that? However while I applied a bit of ice to my knee, I decided to watch a bit of YouTube to get some ideas and hints on how to use the tool. I think learning how to gain some skill has been one of the most amazing things from YouTube for me.

In any case, I watched a basic Plate Joiner video, then a Tips and Tricks video.

Then it was time to practice. First I unpacked the tool. I spent a few minutes checking out the manual to be sure I knew where the knobs where.

Photo May 24, 1 36 55 PM

I grabbed two boards, thinking I’d make the right angle jog I saw in one of the videos. I lined them up and used a corner brace to put lines on both boards.

Photo May 24, 1 36 59 PM

Once that was done, I used the sand paper trick to raise the tool slightly and cut three slots.

Photo May 24, 1 39 02 PM

Not really a bit deal, but I was somewhat excited.

Photo May 24, 1 39 14 PM

Once that was done, I cut the other board and then put the biscuits in.

Photo May 24, 1 40 38 PM

The test fit looked good, things lining up. One biscuit was a little thick, so I sandpapered it with 3 or 4 strokes and then it was fine.

Photo May 24, 1 40 57 PM

I added glue and then used my tool to actually apply a little weight as I moved on to another project.

Photo May 24, 1 44 48 PM

Chores and Projects

I started the day thinking I’d get some projects done, but as usual, things didn’t go my way. I started with a lazy morning and some coffee, watching a few videos on my biscuit joiner. I want to start on my sabbatical next weekend, so I wanted to get some things done.

However when I decided to knock out PT first, I realized my knee was sore. After I got done, I needed ice on the knee before I did anything. Since I was moving slow, I decided to take a few minutes on my drywall patch. I’m trying to fix a hole in our bedroom, so I sanded that and got it ready for texture.

That done, I went outside and saw the mower. That was my first project. I knew I had the new spark plug, and I was thinking if I could get this going, I’d get kids on it. I found my battery screw, put that in, and tried to start it, but no battery power.


Not sure if the battery has been somewhat trashed, but I jumped it again with the truck. I didn’t see a spark, but I shrunk the gap slightly and put it in there. A few cranks and it started. I let it run for a minute and disconnected the truck. I drove it around, thinking I’d get it started, but it died on my after a few minutes. Not sure what, but fortunately my portable jumper got it going. At that point I decided to just cut the front.

Then the back.  More time then I wanted, but the grass got cut.

Once that was done, I spent a few minutes playing with the plate joiner, building an angle jog for vertical registration. It was pretty easy, and we’ll see how it goes tomorrow. I’ll use that to build a few drawers or maybe a shoe cabinet.

That being done, I was a little motivated. I thought about a biscuit drawer, but I had a few small pieces of plywood and they were too small for biscuits. So I decided to build a small router bit drawer. I was thinking I’d have something I could put into a cabinet later, and realized I should have planned things first. I ended up mucking it up and changing the design a few times, but it got done. Three bits stored, though nowhere to put the drawer for now.

I then finished my sawhorse, which is way too short. I need to measure how tall I want them and go from there. I’m thinking to use a different design I saw today, simpler, and probably easier to make taller. Two sawhorses are the plan for tomorrow.

That done, I took a short break and drove my car to town, getting the car moving and dropping off a package. I was feeling productive, and when I came home, I finally decided to make a crosscut sled. I’ve been struggling without one on a few cuts and so I took the HPDE plastic I had and cut runners. I was about to attach the base, but then decided to get a few hints on how to build one.

Laundry, and a crossfit workout that was hard and that’s my day. Now doing ice on the knee, alternating with laundry and cooking.

Slow Start

A little video watching, a little coffee and then some exercises. The Crossfit yesterday wore my legs out more, especially the knee. After the PT workout, I need more ice, so I’m doing a little work while I ice.

Sabbatical–Flagpole Project Plan

Here are some thoughts on my flagpole project. This is how I see the project going.

To start, I know there are a few things I need to get done:

  • Clean out stones and set new base
  • Build base
  • build sawhorses to hold pole
  • buy raw materials
  • measure space to work
  • build flagpole
  • finish (paint) flagpole
  • order metal supplies for the flag
  • get new flag

That’s the rough list of things, but obviously this doesn’t really give me the plan or order of things. Realistically, I’m looking at something more like this:

  • measure space to work
  • build sawhorses to hold pole
  • buy raw materials
  • build flagpole
  • Build base
  • Clean out stones and set new base
  • order metal supplies for the flag
  • finish (paint) flagpole
  • get new flag

This is a more likely order, though I can do some things like ordering parts while I’m doing others. I’ll also fit the base cleaning time in the middle of the building.

How about timing?

Obviously I need to lay out some times here. I’ve allotted myself 6 weeks to do all this, though I may end up with some prep ahead of time.

  • measure space to work – 1 day, May
  • build sawhorses to hold pole – 2 days - May
  • buy raw materials – 1 day - May
  • build flagpole – June, 2 weeks
  • Build base – June 1 - week
  • Clean out stones and set new base – 1 week, June
  • order metal supplies for the flag
  • finish (paint) flagpole – 1 week – July
  • get new flag

That’s the rough plan. I’ll prep the last few weekends in May, getting sawhorses ready and things laid out in the front yard. I’ll also get the raw materials ready, I think. That could wait until June 1 or 2, but we’ll see. I may stage things a bit.

I do also need to order more clamps, after watching the show. It’s also an excuse for me to get a plate joiner, but I’ll do that and get biscuits. I’ve been wanting to try that for a long time.

That’s a rough plan, enough to get me started, though I’m sure I’ll need to rough out more details over time.

For now, I’m looking to get some materials to build these: Knockdown Sawhorses

Friday, May 23, 2014

Book #25–Broadcast 8: Renegades


Broadcast 8: Renegades is the latest book in the Spinward Fringe series. In this one, we have lots of characters and stories coming together. Aryan is building something at Haven Shore, the island she negotiated for, but struggles as a part of their council when there are people that don’t want the Warlord crew to become citizens.

Meanwhile Clark continues as the leader of the Eden cult. He sends some Issyrians to negotiate with Aryan, though it’s hard to tell if he’s saving them, or expects something else. It’s also hard to tell if he’s really worried about the Edxian’s attacking humanity. The sparse parts of the story we see leave it unclear. Maybe in #9?

We also have Alice, training as a Ranger on the island, but then kicked out when she discovers some AI androids and destroys them. She joins Jake on the Warlord as they head out for their first capture She’s struggling to fit in as a teenager, though we find out it’s her framework that keeps regnerating her at 16. She’s upset that she’s stuck on the Warlord during the attack, but discovers Edxian’s on the hull later and has her own battle.

Meanwhile we find Jake leading the charge, and brutally taking over a destroyer and a hauler. It’s a crazy battle, and he is brutal in how he gets their codes. It’s somewhat shocking.

This was a hard book to read, and it dragged a bit. I still enjoyed it, but certainly if you hadn’t read 7, and maybe even 6, you’d be lost.

Better and better

I’m almost at full flexion with my knee. When I went to PT this morning, and the therapist went to bend my leg, I was surprised that she could almost get my heel to touch my glutes. The top of my knee got tight, but no pain. She checked against my other leg, and it’s really close. No degree measurement, but it was close.

When she did it 4 or 5 times, however, then it ached a bit inside.

We did the exercises, and things felt good. Still working, but I think I need to up the reps over the weekend as a bunch of them are getting easier.

As I was leaving, I got an email from Tia, asking if I’d want to try crossfit with her. I agreed, and she sent me the workout of the day. She’d done it, and it didn’t look like much, but I thought I’d try it. Kendall agreed, and this afternoon she and I tried it.

15 minutes and we were out of breath and starting to sweat. It was surprisingly hard. I’m sure a week would make it easier, but it was a good workout for Kendall and I.

Sabbatical–Habitat for Humanity

My employer, Red Gate Software, offers a sabbatical to their employees, and this year I'm taking mine. I'll be gone from June 2 - July 14, away from work, but I'll be blogging here about my experience.

A few years ago I was on vacation with my wife and a few other couples. One night at dinner, one of the other couples posed this question: what would you do if you won the lottery and never had to work again?

There were various answers from the people at the table. When my turn came, the first thing that came to my mind was working full time for Habitat for Humanity. I’d consider other charities, but the things that speak to me are food, shelter, and education.

One of my sabbatical decisions was the volunteer for Habitat of Denver, and I began that journey by attending a volunteer orientation and filling out paperwork. In a few days my name should be in their database and I’ll be able to start signing up for shirts at builds and the ReStores that Habitat runs. I’m looking forward to getting a few shifts a week at their stores, and I’m hoping I can help them fulfill their mission.

Photo May 12, 6 49 41 PM

I do believe strongly that we all should volunteer and give back to society in our lives It’s at a time and place of your choosing, when it works for you. You might have done it in the past, you might do it now, or maybe it will be something that you do when you retire from technology, but I hope you consider sharing of yourself and helping the world at some point.

However choose those things that speak to you. Things that mean something to you and which will benefit others.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Fixing Things in the Air

Yesterday we finally rented a lift to repair the building. We’d tried on Tues, but a thunderstorm stopped us. We were worried about more rain yesterday and today, so Tia took the kids to school and I was up to go to Home Depot. I went to a different store after my experience last week and it was much better. The guy was friendlier and got me going relatively quickly.

Photo May 21, 11 59 22 AM

I rented the lift and came home. Tia was back and we got started, riding up on the inside to fix the tear and reattach the support to the frame. I’m glad we went up, because we also noticed another bolt that was loose. The corner gets the most wind, and perhaps that was the reason, but I’m worried because it was the last part of the building to go up, that they were moving too fast and didn’t check it as well.

You can see the hole below, but that entire strut isn’t attached at the top.

Photo May 21, 9 22 06 AM

We bolted it down again, which was harder than expected. We also added a third bolt when one of the two seemed stripped. Those were done, but the third one was loose.

Tia was happy we got the thing done.


No big deal because after we patched the hole, we realized that we wanted to seal it better with some duct tape around the edges. A quick trip to the store and lunch got us supplies, and we patched it.

Photo May 21, 12 24 55 PM

I also took a hacksaw up to cut the third bolt off and then replaced it with a new one. All the bolts got lock washers, so I’m hoping that helps prevent future issues. I checked the bolts here, and on the other corners, and things were OK. We did find one down low that wasn’t as tight as it could be, but we can get that with a ladder.

It was neat to be up so high again. Surprisingly I wasn’t as scared as I am on a ladder


Then it was outside. The hole didn’t look go big out there.

Photo May 21, 12 46 02 PM

We glued on a patch and then added duct tape there as well.

Everything finished, we came down and that was that. A bigger pain than we thought, but it’s done.

Better and Better

The knee is doing better. After icing, or actviity, it’s easier to get going and moving. Yesterday was hard, with me up and moving all day and unable to ice from 7:30m until about 5:15pm, so that was hard. I did 20min on/20min off for a few hours until 9ish and that helped. It was sore this morning, but some ice today has be doing better.

Need to exercise a bit and get moving.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Pix from China

Kyle sent me this: I’m in China


and then this: It’s a jungle


Monday, May 19, 2014

Wall Squats

At PT today I moved up to wall squats. Things were looking, and feeling good, with my flexion almost full. So I got 3 new exercises. Clam, leg openers, which work to glutes nicely, were first. I think I need to add those to my routine of exercises for both legs.

I also started bridges, which I have done in yoga. I think I’ll add those to daily work along with planks. I added in planks last night, just 45s, but I want to work up to something closer to 5 min and they’re a great core exercise.

Then wall squats. Tia was asking when I’d do those, and I know she was up to 5 or 10 minutes ones by the end of her PT. I started with just constant up/down items today, not getting too close to 90 degrees. I did 10, with about a 30s hold at the end. I am worried about going low, but those will give me some good quad movement as I heal.

So far PT is easy, which is fine. I do want to drive forward, but I also don’t want patellar issues in the future.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

10,000 Steps

Last night I went to meet Tia at her Mounted Patrol training. She had left early in the morning, and was camping out South of Castlewood Canyon with all the others that were in training. I met her for dinner down there, sitting and chatting over burgers with some of our friends before they went on a ride. I had been walking a bit yesterday, trying to get the car working, working in the garage, general stuff. So I wanted to sit down.

First I sat in Tia's chair, opening a bottle of wine and having a glass. However that wasn't too comfortable, so I moved to the back of the Suburban, reading and sipping wine. It was a beautiful, peaceful night.

 When Tia got back, we walked to the campfire and hung out a bit, listening to the ranger tell some stories. As we were walking back, I was surprised to have my Fitbit buzz.

When I got home, I looked and sure around, 10,600 steps. Crazy. I scanned back through the week and about 6k was the most I'd done.

That was a lot, and I could feel my knee swollen and sore. I iced a few times last night and today again. Chores today, and now more ice. I'd like to do more, but I'm knocking off.

I did manage to get a lot done. Grass cut and poop picked up in the dog areas. Some weeds knocked out of the arena. The push mower going, and Kendall cutting the front. The riding not working, and I think a new plug needed. A practice drawer built yesterday and a sawhorse mostly done. I was going to finish it today, but calling it.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Book #27–The Expendable Few

31 arg1vO4L__BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_A re-read for me. I started Broadcast 8, but realized I needed to reset myself and go back a bit. I decided to start with The Expendable Few. Glad I did. Enjoyed it, and it helped reset some of the characters that appear in Broadcast 7.


Last night was the crossover for one of the packs of Cub Scouts that feeds our troop. They were late this year, and had asked a few of our boys show up. Since Delaney is Senior Patrol Leader, I said he should go and he agreed. We headed out and our boys helper set up the ceremonial bridge for the crossover.

Photo May 16, 7 40 49 PM

I’ve seen the ceremony 4 or 5 times between Kyle, Delaney, and then supporting our troop. It’s interesting, and sometimes long, but the guy running it this time wasn’t too bad. Our boys stood at the far side of the bridge, watching the Cubs get their final arrow of light awards and get ready to cross over.

Photo May 16, 7 42 34 PM

Two boys changed the epaulet and then Delaney put the new neckerchief on the kids.

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And futzed with the slide before they all welcomed the new scouts with handshakes. neat to see him participating without complaints and enjoying it.

Photo May 16, 7 45 23 PM

Also amazing how little these kids are. Delaney was that size only a few years back.


I got an apology from Home Depot. They said they notified the store manager, which I could have done through email, but couldn’t find a way. I was too annoyed to do it in store, and didn’t want to go yelling at anyone.


Tia or the boys found this awhile back, and it’s interesting. You get 2-4 people on their phones to connect and cooperate. We haven’t done in in awhile, but last night after the Crossover, Delaney lay with us and asked if we’d play Spaceteam.

So we did. We got to Sector 10 before crashing. Actually got there a few times, and it was funny. All of us laying side by side in bed, me struggling a bit with the iPad to flip it over, but yelling things out like “Flip the Spacestream” or “Release the Hounds”. There are some good ones in there.

A Slow Morning

Tia left early this morning for training with her volunteer riding patrol, so I slept in.

Until 7:30. Hard for me to go longer than that. I decided to start the day with ice. There was still ince in the cooler, so I ran that on my knee for a bit, watched a little TV, had coffee and ate, and did a little work, cleaning up some stuff for work I missed yesterday.

Then it was exercising the knee. Doing about 2/3 of my exercises today. I left a few for later, and also I forgot. Oh well, I distracted myself by watching a little guitar video while I was doing them, so no wonder. Then more ice on the knee. It wasn’t hurting as much, but trying to knock swelling down where I can.

Now time to get Delaney up to work and get to chores myself.

Sabbatical–Not the Flagpole I remembered

My employer, Red Gate Software, offers a sabbatical to their employees, and this year I'm taking mine. I'll be gone from June 2 - July 14, away from work, but I'll be blogging here about my experience.

I finally got my DVD and drawing for the flagpole.

Photo May 12, 9 34 52 PM


I saw down and watched it one day, just out of curiosity. It was some of what I remembered, but some I didn’t and I learned a few things. One was that the base, which I was thinking was a 4x4 base sticking up, isn’t what Norm used. I must have confused this with another article I read, because this is a metal one.

That’s a decision I’ll have to make. I wasn’t planning on welding a base together, though I have a fairly expert friend that I’m sure would help me get that done. It’s tempting to expand on the sabbatical and add on some metal skills. I think some of this will depend on how quickly I get the basic pole built. Once I have the thing glued up and square, I can then measure for the base and plan. No matter what I choose, I want to get it into the ground and cemented before the end of June.

I guess that leads me to the next step, getting a plan together.

Most of the rest of the DVD made sense and was what I remembered. I’ll need to build some sawhorses and get a space prepped to work. I’m thinking in front of the garage, just to the side of where I’ll pull out with the car. That would let me easily access tools and power, and also be convenient. I could also easily cover things with a tarp if needed.

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Worst Home Depot Trip

I had the worst experience I've ever had at a Home Depot store today (#1516). I went in to rent a towable tool, and needed to pick up a couple items for a project. My wife and I brought a few bolts and nuts to the tool rental area. The two gentlemen there were helping someone else, but they didn't acknowledge us or ask us to wait a moment. No big deal, they're busy.

One was more experienced (John) and he was slow and somewhat disinterested in helping the other employee get his customer served. When they finally asked us what we needed, and we told them, the more experienced one told the new employee to help us. He tried, but certainly struggled with the transaction. I understand that. People need to get trained, but there was little help being given to this new employee.

When we walked outside, we watched the new employee spend 15+ minute attempting to unlock the tire and hitch locks. Trying key after key. That tried my patience, but I could let that go. Finally the older employee came out and helped him, but didn't check the tool, or our truck, and offered no guidance. They didn't notice one of the control items was missing until I pointed it out. They never explained anything about the tool, brakes, or things to watch out for. The older employee left, not offering assistance beyond getting the lock open.

Eventually things were prepped and we noticed that my light plug was different than the tool. The young man helping me didn't know what to do. I followed him inside and he looked around the counter, but didn’t know what to do. We stood there for a few minutes and he mentioned that “everyone can’t be on break”. There was another customer waiting, who wasn’t acknowledged. After a couple minutes I asked him if he could call someone. He tried the phone, spending a minute or two punching buttons, and then put it down, never saying a word. He walked away, and foolishly I thought he was going to the service desk to get help.

He came back 3 or 4 minute later with a cup of coffee and seemed surprised no one had come back to help us. We stood there for 4 or 5 minutes, the employee, me, another customer, not sure what to do. Eventually I walked outside and saw another employee who couldn’t find an adapter, but offered to sell me one from the store. Fine, I understand and it’s a $10 adapter. I buy it after he brought 3 back from the store and tried them on my truck. I paid, and walked back out.

At this point, 3 employees were in the tool area, though not the older gentleman. All of them watched me walk out, or hobble out with a brace on my knee, and none of them offered to help hook up the tool. Fortunately I’d done this before and knew about the brake. I started to hook it up and realized my ball was too big. The older gentleman saw me looking and walked up at this point. He noticed the ball was too big and helped me lift the tool back up. He looked at it, and never offered any suggestions or ideas. No offer of a loaner. After a minute of stunned silence from me, I asked if I could cancel the rental. At this point he said I could go find a new ball from the store and buy it, or he could cancel the rental.

Over 45 minutes after I walked up to the tool counter, during which time I saw 3 other customers in the area, I cancelled my tool rental.

A lack of competency that I can forgive, but very little help, no offers of assistance, no real desire to work to make the experience pleasant, gave me the worst afternoon I’d ever had at a Home Depot.

Steve Jones

I sent this to Home Depot. Hoping they don’t live up to the motto I’ve seen ex-employees share: You can’t do it and we won’t help.

Self-Driving Cars

I’ve been seeing notes from people that they’re worried what decision self-driving cars will make, since their programming, the software that runs them and potentially contains bugs, will control the car. If there’s a choice to avoid a collision with a car, but hit a bicyclist, what does the car do?

I found this piece commenting on the issues, and for the most part I agree. It’s not as if humans don’t already have to make these decisions, and potentially make bad choices all the time. Cars kill a lot of people. Around 30,000 per year according to some stats I’ve seen. How many of those might be preventable if a car drove itself?

Drunk driving certainly changes, as do texting while driving, distracted by kids/makeup/food/etc.

I do think the code that powers cars should be open and reviewed. I think the government might need to set some standards for how situations are handled, and certainly someone should take some responsibility for self-driving cars, but as I get older, as I find myself busier, I’d love a self-driving car and look forward to the day I can buy one.

Book #26–Owner’s Share

41srpe -9FL__BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_The last book in the Solar Clipper series. Owner’s Share starts right after Captain’s Share, with Ismael getting bad news as he comes back home. The owner of the line, Maloney, has died. That throws things in turmoil, but the bad news is tempered with good news.

The ship that was salvaged in Captain’s Share is coming up for auction and as captain, Ismael will be rich. It’s estimated to be in the 10mm credit range. Doesn’t seem a lot with today’s numbers, but it’s a lot.

However it’s not enough to buy a ship, which is usually in the hundred’s of millions. However Ismael has a choice. The company is in a battle, with the heir, Maloney’s daughter. They make a deal. Ismael will get a ship at a discount, a small, hold fast packet, at a discount. 40mm, still more than he can afford, but with some creative financing, he gets it done, hires a crew, including the heir, and starts a business.

It’s an interesting look at Ismael as a captain and owner. There isn’t a lot of finance and business talk, but enough to let us know Ismael’s life is complicated.

The book near the end seems to run into a thriller, but doesn’t resolve it well. I didn’t love the ending, and didn’t think it was great resolution. It left me wanting a bit more, but I don’t think it was as bad as some of the reviews on Amazon.

Sabbatical Flagpole

When I wrote about my sabbatical decisions, I was excited to get moving. However I still had plenty of other work to do, and with a few other commitments, I was slow to get started. Last week I documented my college progress for step 1. This week, I’m looking at my third item, and independent project.

I want to build a flagpole. Years ago I saw an episode of The New Yankee Workshop where Norm Abrams built a flagpole. I thought it was neat, and I’ve wanted to build one. Around that time we moved to my current house, which had an aluminum flagpole, and it didn’t seem like I needed to build another one, but times have changed.

A few years ago my flagpole broke in the wind. I’d added a small aerometer to the top, and I think that was just enough weight to cause it to snap in a high wind storm. Since then, I haven’t replaced it, thinking I’ll build a pole one summer. This is that summer.

Surprisingly I didn’t find much online about building a flagpole, so I decided to order the plans from The New Yankee Workshop. I did that recently, and once they arrive, I’ll start getting supplies ready for my project.

Thursday, May 15, 2014


The last concert of the year from Delaney’s orchestra. They sounded great.


I had PT this morning, with some new exercises. Good work, and I’ll keep chugging along. The bad news was that the therapist said she wanted me to be really careful about yoga and pilates for another month. We’ll see how I do.

One good thing was that a different therapist did the ice and TENS machine, and he pointed out afterwards I still had a lot of inflammation, so I needed to work on that more.

Which of course I didn’t because I got lunch, listened to a webinar before driving back as I was running late, and then took the dogs for a short walk. Now I’m icing, but I was hoping to do this earlier. I need to do it again tonight after Delaney’s concert.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Better but mushy

I’ve been trying to be careful with the knee. No work yesterday on the bike, though I did go through my set of 6 exercises.

Today the leg felt Ok, though certainly I must be moving it at night and sleeping on the knee cap somewhat as it’s sore by the time I get back from taking kids to school. I got back and hooked up the ice machine. I did it again after lunch, and now again after picking up Delaney.

I did my exercises before I got Delaney, and while I feel stronger, and can move better, my right thigh sure is mushy. Even when I tighten it, and see the quads move, they’re still barely there.

I am so looking forward to swelling going down and being able to actually work this thing. Tomorrow I go to PT and I’ll ask when I can start yoga and pilates, and when I go back in June, I’ll ask the surgeon about swimming.

Book #25–Captain’s Share

51Pw1PnqF0L__SL160_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-dp,TopRight,12,-18_SH30_OU01_AA160_I read this last year, but realized I never wrote about it. When I grabbed the last book in the series, I had to go back and read this one to get caught up.

Captain’s Share is a few years after Double Share. Ismael is a first mate, with the same ship from Full Share, but the new captain. He’s at a crossroads in life, married to Jen, but unhappy. She’s upset he’s gone, and he knows this is bad.

When the ship docks at a port, he’s told to report for his captain’s exam. He does, and by the time he gets home, he’s informed he’s a captain. After a fight with Jen, she realizes this is his life and they part on better terms. Maloney, the owner, has come to him with an offer. Take the worst ship in the fleet, a small hauler, and become captain.

He does, and in Ismael fashion, he turns the ship around. In some ways, it’s like Quarter Share again, but from a different point of view as we watch him build a team and a ship. It’s a great transform, and one I enjoyed.

You need to at least read Double Share before this one.

A Late Start

I let Delaney sleep in today. It’s the day of his AP test in European History. Rooting for him to do well.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Wake Up

I had Physical Therapy this morning early. I was slightly worried about going with snow today, and I’m glad I got up a little early because I saw this when I went outside.

Photo May 12, 7 03 28 AM

I had to scrape away at the windshield and side window to get going, and then it was slow. Actually snowing harder in Parker than home, but the roads were clear.

PT was interesting. The therapist did some massage on my leg, some ached, some felt good, and I hadn’t thought about it. I’ll definitely need to add that to my repertoire of things to do. I did a few exercises, all of which were easy, but when I talked with her, she mentioned a few things. One is that I want that tendonitis to go away, so I want to go slow.

That makes sense, and as I went through the litany of exercises, I could feel it aching a bit inside the knee. It made me think I’ve pushed a touch hard on the biking, so I’ll slow that down. I’ll keep doing it, maybe even longer, but with less resistance.

I finished up with the TENS machine, getting some stimulation and ice, which was interesting.

Feeling good, though swollen. Back in bed with ice water around the knee now.

Saturday, May 10, 2014


A good day, hitting Home Depot, coming back and replacing a sprinkler head before fixing my snow fence.

Just in advance of snow.

Feeling Normal...Almost

A semi-lazy morning after a late night movie with Tia and the little ones. I got up slow, did a little work since yesterday was a semi-bust, and then went out to mess with weeds. This was the corner I started in.

And 30 minutes later, it was like this.

I was in jeans, brace on the leg, but doing much better moving around. As I was working, it felt fairly normal. That's until I got done. Then the knee was a bit sore and achey.

However, no rest for now. I have to go meet with a Scout for his Robotics merit badge, and sign him off, then hit Home Depot for some supplies and get back and try to replace at least one, maybe two sprinkler heads.

After that, definitely some time in bed with ice to relax before dinner with Tia.

Friday, May 9, 2014

I made it this far

First exercise outside, and first walk in over two weeks.

Photo May 09, 2 00 26 PM

I walked to the elementary school bus stop, about .75mi from the house. I took Uma, as she’s a good leash dog to go with.

It wasn’t too bad, though the knee felt unstable at times. Can’t quite figure out how to manage the level of bend, or straight-ness at times. Also got a bit sore in the 40 minutes out there.

Friday Fun


Sabbatical - Back to College

I wrote recently that I had decided on what to do for my sabbatical, and the first item on the list was learning something at a local college. Red Rocks Community College is renowned for their Fine Woodworking program, and I decided to take a class this summer from them.

The first step, however, was to register for college. That meant filling out an application and hoping that this would be smooth. While I wouldn’t mind taking the ACTs and seeing how much knowledge I’ve retained over the years, I’d prefer to have this happen quickly.

The process was fairly easy. I applied online, filling out lots of forms and the submitted them.

And waited.

I had thought I’d be moving in a day or two, but it took a few more than that. However finally I had my acceptance to college and I could get moving. Registering took a bit more time as I had to get through an orientation and take a quiz that helps new students get ready for college, but eventually I was able to register for Fine Woodworking 101.

It’s an intro class, but all of the really cool classes require this one and the summer actually didn’t have a lot of choices. I thought about woodturning, but decided that with my other project, I should make sure my fundamentals were sound. This also gives me the chance to ask questions if I have issues on my own.

Step 1, done.

Sabbatical Decisions

I wrote before that I had a sabbatical coming from Red Gate Software this year. It’s a fantastic perk, one that grants all employees 6 weeks of paid time off every five years. The time is supposed to help you grow in some way, not necessarily related to work.

I had lots of comments on my piece, and I’ve thought about it quite a bit. With my schedule at home, and other items on the agenda, I’ve decided to do the following:

  1. Learn something
  2. Help someone
  3. Wander on my own with a project

Those broad ideas boiled down into these actual physical items.

  1. Take a class at a local community college. I have an interest in woodworking and I’m looking to go through one of their summer classes. I’ve not made the time in the past, mostly because of the distance to travel to the school, but this is a good time to experiment with the idea.
  2. Volunteer with a charity part time. I have a soft spot in my heard for Habitat for Humanity, and I plan to volunteer with them in both their stores, and on some local builds.
  3. Make something with my hands. As I mentioned, I have an interest in woodworking, but I don’t always get the chance to work through a large project with so many other things happening at the ranch. I decided that I’ve wanted to build aflagpole, strictly for me, and that’s my project.

Now that my surgery is done and I’m on the mend, I’ll be working through each of these, setting up the details and getting ready for time off.

My sabbatical is scheduled for Jun 2-July 14, though I won’t be back right away as I will be heading to England right away for SQL Bits XII.

The blog will likely switch from data topics and SQL Server to some progress on the sabbatical so you can follow along if you like. I won’t syndicate these posts over to SQLServerCentral, as they’re not really relevant, so if you’re interested in how it’s going, subscribe here or keep checking back.

Relaxing after no brace

I got the go ahead for some walking without a brace, and slowly working my way out of using the brace at all. Last night I didn’t wear it overnight, and even got up a few times to go to the bathroom without any brace. I was nervous, and moving slow. I also found my leg sore and slightly unsteady in the middle of the night and first thing this morning.

I got the kids up, strapped a brace over my jeans (first time wearing jeans in two weeks), and when I got back, the leg was definitely sore. So I filled up my cooler

Photo May 09, 8 59 28 AM

Then I lay down strapping on the brace and got cold water flowing. That’s so nice.

Photo May 09, 9 02 11 AM

Working along in bed, relaxing. This is much better, and I should have done this first thing before surgery and been prepped. This will definitely help.

Now to get PT moving.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Cleared to Shower

I'm cleared to shower. No more shower chair and covering the knee. I can stand up and take a real shower. Never thought I'd be happy to hear that.

Stitches Out

I had my doctor’s appointment today to remove stitches and check out how things are going. I didn’t see the surgeon, but his PA checked things out and felt it was doing well. Still some swelling, but overall it’s good. He could straighten it and said that I could move to a lighter brace and wean myself off it over the next couple weeks to no brace for anything that’s not sports related.

That’s good. Means I can get going, hit the bike, do some walking, and get myself moving. I should hear from the PT company soon and once I get there, I can start pushing forward. I still am a little nervous about doing too much, but overall things are good.

A nurse took out my stitches, pressing a little hard on the leg and it was sore after. I had to run get oil changed and grabbed lunch, and when I got home, I was sore. Fortunately I saw this when I got home.


It’s a lower price ice machine for my leg. I put ice and water into the machine and it pumps water into a wrap for my knee. I filled it up and lay down with it for 20 minutes. Plug/unplug to get it on and off, no frills, but it worked great.

I hope to get walking soon, but this was the view this morning


Cold and snowy, which means muddy this afternoon. More snow potentially this weekend, so not sure I’ll be outside with the dogs until next week, but I can get on the bike and do some work, getting me moving.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Security Sadness

I got this offer in email today.


My wife likes the X-Men, I’m not traveling, and this seemed like a good idea. I clicked and saw this page:


It’s from the Fandango domain, which I’ve used before. I have a United VISA. However I just can’t trust that I can actually enter this data in this form. It’s entirely possible this is a man in the middle attack, and that worries me.

It’s sad that I can’t trust things like this anymore. It’s the same reason I don’t even talk to telemarketers anymore. Even when it’s a good cause, I just can’t trust any random “offer” that comes to me. I’m sure that I can’t even trust those offers I find myself, but it’s going to be a problem more and more. Whether it impacts commerce, I don’t know. Entirely too many people don’t care about security and $20 in free movie stuff would have them typing in their credit card number.

I went to the United site and didn’t see the offer. I went to Fandango and same thing.

Oh well, I guess I’ll buy my own tickets.

Sick Girl

Kendall came home yesterday feeling sick. Not allergies, and she could recognize that, telling us it was a cold. She lay in her room, only coming out a few times. She lay in bed in the evening a bit with me, while Tia napped, and we chatted. She had two tests today, but wasn’t doing well. She didn’t want to make them up, but wasn’t sure if she’d feel OK.

When I got her up this morning, she started to move, but said she felt bad, so I let her sleep in. I got Delaney up and to school and then took a call downstairs in the office. Then I got a text:

“Will you read to me?”

From Kendall. She was in my bed, and I said I’d be up shortly.

Photo May 07, 11 49 36 AM

She’s been working through this book for school. She enjoys it, but she’s gotten behind with her busy life and needs to finish this by the end of the weekend. I lay there for about 30 minutes, reading to her, getting another 30 pages done before I had to go to work.

After that she went for a nap. It was neat to read with her. I miss that with the kids as they’ve gotten older. Nice that she also had me help her continue to work through things for school.


Doing much better today, and yesterday. After laying in bed and working most of the day, with breaks for leg lifts and some work, I decided to try the bike again. Tia was picking up kids, so I got on and tried to spin a slow revolution. Unlike last time, I was able to easily get around.

I decided to lightly spin for a minute, and realized the seat was too high now. I lowered it a notch, then two, and it felt pretty good. I sat there, spinning on level 3, for 30 minutes. Level 3 is slight resistance, enough that over time I built up some sweat. However on any particular revolution, it barely felt like anything above free spinning.

That was good, and with some situps and leg lifts, it felt like I was working a bit. Things are still swollen, but I know it’s going down as I have to keep tightening the straps to keep the brace up.

Photo May 06, 2 18 15 PM

I’ve had it unwrapped when I’m in bed (not asleep) the last couple days, letting things air out when I don’t have ice on. It doesn’t look bad

Photo May 06, 2 18 26 PM

I’m hoping to not have too many scars. It should look better when I get stitches out tomorrow.