Thursday, July 31, 2014

Last Class

At school early to avoid traffic (most of it), so a little Red Gate work before class starts. This is it. The last one of the summer semester, with my project due tonight.

It’s been really interesting and I’ve learned quite a few things, though perhaps I’ve unlearned more things I didn’t know well and re-learned how to do things better.

In any case, I’m thinking to take part II of this course in the fall, which will open up more choices for future courses. However I do think I need to stick to classes that meet once a week from now on. The twice a week drive is tough.

A late night–sabbatical catch up

I took an extra day in the wood lab last night. The instructor offered to show up Wed night, with all projects and work due Thur, and I wasn’t the only one that needed the time. Almost the entire class was there, and it was fairly quiet with no other students or instructors working.

With my piles of parts close, the first thing I needed to do was cut tenons. I’ve done this before, by hand, with limited success. However since time is short this semester, we were given permission to use the bandsaw (and a little instruction).

I first marked things up.

Photo Jul 29, 5 47 21 PM

As with the mortises, I was thinking I could mark one board and use the setup for others. However when I showed the TA, he saw some problems. First, I needed to center the tenon. That messed up my reveal, but I could always plane the board to fix that. Then he noticed that when I’d cut left and right hand mortises, my setup was slightly off, so that they are slightly (1/64”) low on one side. Not a huge deal, but it means I need to account for R and L tenons differently.

So back to marking, spending the better part of an hour marking all 8 sides of the 4 boards, in stages to separate right from left. With that done, I turned to the bandsaw to cut the tenons.

Photo Jul 30, 8 14 15 PM

I went a little fat, having had experience with too thin. I ended up too fat, and spent most of the night fussing to get thickness, and then height, to the correct settings. Once they were cut, I felt like I was making progress, but little did I know.

Photo Jul 30, 7 53 50 PM

I went very slow on the router plane, making some passes that didn’t cut anything or generated dust. However I wanted a tight fit. Things were tight on the right tenons, but later I had to come back to this to thin a couple left ones. However I had tight fits all around.

Photo Jul 30, 7 53 44 PM

Once those were done, I re-marked, and shaved off the upper part of the tenon. Things still seemed to fit well, and I had a decision to make. The bottom shoulder was about 1/16”-3/32”, depending on left or right. I could lengthen the mortises and have no shoulder (tempting) or cut a small one. I opted to cut a small one. As much as I like the mortiser, it takes time to setup and at this point, I’d blown 2 of my 3 hours and wasn’t terribly close to having a single joint. I still knew I’d have shoulder work.

I lightly trimmed the bottoms, and as I worked on squaring the shoulders to the joint, I went back to the bandsaw a few times for small trims. I was trying to be careful, but also feeling pressure. Never a good combination.

Once things were cut, and thinned, I test fitted them together. The right hand ones seemed to do OK.

Photo Jul 30, 8 26 05 PM

You can’t see it well, but the shoulders on most were slightly off to way off. I spent about 15 minutes trying to get one to fit, before I got too frustrated and decided to work on them in the order of the closest to fitting to least.

Photo Jul 30, 8 26 00 PM

Back and forth to the vise, using a chisel to square, and then fit again. I’d hit the bandsaw for the ones that were way off to save time. Chiseling is satisfying, but slloooooowwwww and things are due Thursday.

When I had a good fit, with almost no gap, I’d mark the back of the board. I got the short aprons (sides) done first and I could put two legs on an apron and felt good. The long sides were harder, and 3:15 into extra lab time, people were cleaning up. I decided to try a test fit and see where I was.

Photo Jul 30, 9 42 06 PM

Things went together. I was amazed, and also somewhat proud. After all, I’d started with a pile of rough lumber board. I dropped the top on, just to see.

Photo Jul 30, 9 42 21 PM

It looks good. I actually built a piece of furniture that doesn’t need glue or screws, and looks decent.

Photo Jul 30, 9 42 27 PM

There are three bad gaps on the long aprons (front/back) that I need to fix tonight. I also need to run the bottom of the top (if that makes sense) through the planer to thin it and shorten my bevel. A little long for the side of the bottom.

I’ve also got the dimensions slightly smaller than I’d like, so I have to decide if it’s worth trying to shorten aprons slightly from a design aspect. Probably won’t do that, but it’s something I’ll think about.

Hoping to get to pin it with dowels tonight, but if I don’t, I’ll drill and add faux pins for decoration.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


From today

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Photo Jul 30, 11 11 26 AM



Photo Jul 30, 11 11 24 AM

Photo Jul 30, 10 54 47 AM

Creating a Table–Sabbatical continued

My sabbatical officially ended on Jul 14, but I still had a few weeks of class left. And I need to get my flagpole mounted, but that’s another tale.

I missed a week of classes with travel to SQL Bits and the Red Gate office, and last week I ended up cutting my wood in to pieces for the final project. Not a lot getting done there, and some simple planing of edges and sides, but I walked into class on Tuesday with this:

Photo Jul 29, 5 03 08 PM

The left boards were planed at home to size (perhaps a touch small), but were square and ready to become legs. The middle stack is the aprons, which were planed (by hand) and squared, and then machine planed to thickness. The right stack is the top, which I managed to get fairly smooth and needed to glue.

My first step was to mark up the legs for mortises. That’s one of those tasks I couldn’t do at home, so I wanted be sure I did that.

Photo Jul 29, 5 30 01 PM

I was in class early, with no instructor, so I had to remember from the last month how to mark these up. I did two, and then the instructor showed up to note I only needed one as the machine would do the rest.

This is my favorite machine.

Photo Jul 29, 6 03 29 PM

It’s a specialty machine, but it does such a consistent job of making mortises, way better than I could. Without it, I’d dread cutting more than 1 or two and certainly wouldn’t be sure I’d do them well. With it, I’d use this joint much more often.

It took 10 minutes or so to set up, and then another 20 to cut 12 mortises. By hand I’d likely have 2 done, tops. They looked good, too.

Photo Jul 29, 6 48 14 PM

With those cut, and the instructor around, I turned my attention to the top .He looked at my boards, and with a slight gap in the centers (more by accident than design, though I did want this), he clamped them dry and proclaimed them good. We added glue, clamped and set them to dry.

I wanted to watch him do this, even though I’d clamped a few boards at home. I was looking for hints and got a few. Hopefully I’ll do a better job next time. While those were drying, I went back to legs.

First I had to smooth them. While I can use a little sandpaper at the end, I needed to plane them first.

Photo Jul 29, 7 32 24 PM

Once that was done, I dropped them in the jig and cut tapers on the bandsaw. My first tapering, and while it was easy, it was also nice to have someone else build the jig and show me how to use it to build confidence.

Photo Jul 29, 7 47 54 PM

Once the top was dry, I had to flatten and square the edges. That went quicker than I thought and I managed to get it done with a few minutes to spare. The sides were easy, the top ,a little more challenging, but in the end, it was flat enough to grip the bed of a planer when I dropped it on.

Photo Jul 29, 8 32 18 PM

With time left, I needed to bevel the bottom. One student was doing this by hand with a planer, but the instructor took pity on my lost week in the UK. He let me use the table saw. I lined it up and then he showed me how to safely run it through. I’d never run a board through vertically, so it was good to see how someone else does it

Photo Jul 29, 8 56 03 PM

I ended up with a nice pile of parts, including a beveled top.

Photo Jul 29, 9 07 38 PM

The next major step is to cut tenons and then assemble the thing.

And hope it fits.

Dentist and Ortho

Visits for the kids. Overall things are good, though they both need to brush more. Kendall has a cavity, filled in two weeks.

No ortho change. Waiting for kids to finish growing though we will get Delaney's wisdom teeth out this fall.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

On the Go

So much for limiting events. There was a time in May when I had nothing scheduled as far as speaking goes.

Now I have 12 events, and 9 trips in the pipeline. At least a few are local.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Castlewood Canyon

Saturday we had planned to head out early to Colorado Springs, but with bad weather in the forecast, we decided to stick closer to home and go to Castlewood Canyon.

Photo Jul 26, 12 54 14 PM

We packed up the dogs and started our hike around lunchtime. We had a good hike down through the canyon and then turned towards the waterfall.

Photo Jul 26, 1 06 38 PM

The dogs appreciated time in the water, as did Kendall

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We made it up to the rim, then went back down by the old dam.  On the way, the kids walked out over the old dam.

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There Delaney decided to try some rock climbing. He struggled a bit

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But made it. We were proud of his perseverance and skill.

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The dogs had fun as well, though it was hot for them. When it started to thunder, Deuce was scared, and we hurried back in a light rain.

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A fun family day, capped off by a movie later at night.

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AC Repair

We don’t have AC in our house. Well, we do, but the outside compressor coil is ruined, thanks to dog pee, so we haven’t fixed it. At around $4k, it’s not worth it for the little time we need it in CO. We did get a whole house fan a few years ago, and we love it. We also have a couple window units, though I think this year we installed only one, ran it for a day, and no one has complained.

However my tenant called today, actually texted at 6:30am to say his AC wasn’t working. He then went on to call the house twice before 11:00am and also call multiple companies to get things fixed. I guess he doesn’t like the heat.

I approved a service call, and am waiting to see what the result it.

I so need to raise his rent.

Friday, July 25, 2014


I've got a sore hip flexor. We're supposed to hike tomorrow and I'm not sure I can. I'm not even sure I want to walk later or ride a bike.

I had PT Wed and the therapist decided to try 4lbs on my ankle, since 3 was light two weeks ago. I did a set of 15 lifts, which was hard, and another set with the ankle turned out, which was harder. However I powered through it, and like a moron, powered through 2 more sets. With a few other exercises, I was tired.

Thur I woke up with a sore flexor, and had a short run to loosen things up. It felt better, but after class last night, it was stiff and sore. Driving the Porsche home was a challenge. I was also up a lot at night, feeling sore pain every time I changed position. I couldn't even straighten my leg and sleep.

Today it's still sore, though better, but I'm not sure about tomorrow. Getting too old to be pressing this hard.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Glasses Girl

Kendall blames me. Her eyes are bad enough that she's ready for glasses. I took her for an exam and at 20/50 and 20/60, she needed some. So we shopped.

Photo Jul 21, 11 30 18 AM

She kept sticking to one style, and grabbed 7 or 8 similar ones and the optometrist helped her narrow down to one set. I'm not sure exactly which ones she got, but they're this style.

She's still not happy with me.

Photo Jul 21, 11 28 44 AM

Project Time

Last night I went back to class after missing a week. It's seems like forever since I was there. In the afternoon I loaded up the Suburban with the wood I'd purchased a few weeks ago and headed to class.

When I got there, I wasn't sure what to do. Fortunately there were 4 of the 11 that weren't there last week or didn't have their wood, so we were all in the same boat. The instructor walked through some things for us, actually helping one guy lay out and cut his wood.

I got the idea and then went to lay things out. I'm not sure what I was thinking when I bought wood as I thought I was getting enough for two tables. However I realized that I didn't have enough for 8 legs. The cuts to clean up the wood mean that I ended up with 6 legs and that was about it. A nice piece of scrap, but if I want to do another table, I need more wood.

I managed to get all my pieces cut. Again, I'm not sure I did a great job, but I got the pieces cut.

Photo Jul 22, 7 09 24 PM

Once that was done, I started to flatten the aprons. First I had to sharpen, which I haven't done in weeks, but the skills came back and it went quickly. I was trying to hurry so I wasn't there all night, and got slightly frustrated as I had to work to flatten one board that had an end diving low.

However I got things pretty smooth, surprising myself. 4 aprons flat and run through the planer. That made my feel like I wasn't completely behind. It was 8:40 at that point, so I decided to work on squaring one edge. I cleaned up the rough cut with the hand plane, and it was close, but I had one end off. As I went to get that fixed, I decided to check the end to end flatness. There was a nice rainbow in the middle, with my winding stick balancing left and right.

I managed to cut that down, but then added a bit of a bend in a few spots. It was 8:55 and I decided to quit. I was tired, this was frustrating, and I needed to clean up and load up the car with a few pieces of longer wood.

I'm behind still, with multiple edges to flatten and square, as well as legs. I'm thinking to buy another piece of wood Thur and cut more legs, trying to work on them Thur and get mortises cut. If I do that, I can get tenons cut Tues and work on assembly and pinning on Wed or Thur.

Behind, and thinking to perhaps get to the shop on Sun to make up time. We'll see.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Day 2

Last night Delaney and I went for a short run, about 2 miles. He's got cross country starting in two weeks and after a short family jog, I wanted to see how I'd do.

We went up the driveway walking, and then ran up the hill, or rather, slow jogged up the hill. It was a challenge for both of us. I was wondering if I was in shape, and Delaney said his lungs hurt. However when we turned on the road, he certainly went faster on the downhill. I caught up on the next uphill and was feeling good at the mile point. He wanted to walk, so I thought I was still in better shape.

I was wrong.

We went back, and when we got to the downhill by his bus stop, he got ahead of me and I never caught up. When we got to our private road, he really got ahead and ended up at our gates a good two minutes, if not more, before I did. Still I managed 2 mi in 28 min, including a couple minutes of walking.

This morning I saw someone in the Running Streak group on Facebook post that they liked seeing people's days and counts as it was inspiring. So I posted this:

Day 1
I made it to 1536 last year before life and health got in the way. Yesterday was my first run since ACL surgery in April. Two miles with my 15yr old. Felt good even though he finished way ahead.

It inspired me a bit as well and I decided to go out again today. Shorter, just over a mile jogging and a 1/2 mile walking, but it felt good in the heat. Lots of memories doing that in the past.

Monday, July 21, 2014

A long, long day

Yesterday was a 24 hour day for me, flying back from the UK. I was up early, at 5:00am GMT to shower, pack up, and head over to the terminal. I was a little worried about the time to get there, with United moving to a new Terminal, so I left a little early. I was glad, as I had to walk to Terminal 4 from the Hilton and get a train, which was slow in coming at 5:30am. Then a decent walk to the T2 area, waiting in line too long for coffee, and arriving at the gate just as they started boarding group 2.

All in all it worked out well, and I had a non-eventful flight to DC from London. I even caught a couple hours sleep, though with 3 of us in the row, it wasn’t super comfortable. However I read, watched a movie, and felt OK when I got to DC.

Customs were a breeze for me, and I had time to get lunch, talk to Tia and wait a bit before my flight to Denver. It was nice to get to the US and have a cheeseburger that tasted like a cheeseburger. Not sure what they do in the UK, but all the spices and flavoring are off for me. Wendy’s made me feel at home.

An easy flight to Denver, then driving home and arriving to find Tia, Delaney, and Kendall playing pool. We played a bit, then the boys went with a walk with Tia and I. We even jogged a bit, the first time I’ve run since my surgery, actually since October. It wasn’t much, maybe 1/2 – 3/4 mile broken into a few segments, but it felt OK. I’m thinking to go again tonight with DJ.

Then we had to drive out to get some dinner and the Prius. It was at a dealer, so at 9:00 at night, I was driving out, and then driving Kendall and I back near 10. That was a struggle, as it was 24 hours since my alarm had gone off in London and I was beat. I made it upstairs, brushed teeth, and I think I was asleep by 10:10.

Felt better today, but still a bit tired.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Fun at SQL Bits

Another great SQL Bits conference in the UK. One more day today, where I have to present two sessions, but it's been a good time. I've seen lots of friends from Europe that don't make it to the US for events, and this is the one time to see them. I've also had quite a few people I met last year at Bits or SQL in the City some say hi.

And of course, new people wanting to meet me. Not too many pictures this time, maybe 4 or 5 yesterday, but since today is the free day, I bet I get more.

This is my favorite conference, and they didn't disappoint with the party last night. Last year it was a Robin Hood/Sherwood Forest theme, with Red Gate sending me in a jester costume. This year it's Steampunk. No costume for me, but some neat Victorian era ones from various people. That, along with entertainers, a two story slide, and a merry go round in the conference center.

Great fun. I've got some details for next year, and I think I'll see if Tia wants to come over.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Safe and Sound

In the UK, with another uneventful flight over. I took the exit row this time, but as many of these weekday flights aren’t full, that’s a mistake. A few empty rows I should have moved to, especially as my armrest wouldn’t raise.

Lesson learned for flying 767s.

Sabbatical–First Reflections

My company, Red Gate software, has given me a 6 week sabbatical. I’m documenting the time with all the posts under a tag if you want to follow along.

I’m back in the UK as I write this, having flown over on the last day of my sabbatical. Things were slightly cut short, but I can’t complain at all after having six weeks off.

I wanted to reflect a bit on the sabbatical right away, and then again later. I’ve set reminders in my calendar for the end of the year as well as next spring to think about what this time meant for me.

I’ve broken this down in to a practical section that looks at the plan and how things went and then a more reflective section that examines the value and meaning of the sabbatical.

Learning and Growing

When I planned this sabbatical, I didn’t have any burning desire to accomplish a single thing. That’s not quite true as I’ve wanted to work on a book, but since I write for a large part of my job, I decided not to make that a sabbatical project. Instead I decided to tackle three things:

  • Take a woodworking class
  • Volunteer for Habitat for Humanity
  • Build a Flagpole

Going into the sabbatical, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I thought I could volunteer three times a week, take a class a couple nights a week, and quickly build my project. It turns out, like most software estimates, I was wildly optimistic about the time and effort things would require. I also hadn’t accounted for the setbacks that invariably occur.

Woodworking Fundamentals

I signed up for a class at a local community college, which happens to host one of the premier woodworking programs in the US. While I have built various projects out of wood for years at home, I’ve never had any formal training on how to use tools and work with wood. I’m completely self-taught, and as I quickly found out, I had no idea what I didn’t know.

The class was initially a bit of a disappointment as it dealt primarily with hand tools. I had hoped to gain some skill with machines, as I have a number at home. However I quickly found that tasks like flattening a board, and hand chopping mortises weren’t as daunting as they seemed and I picked up a few skills I might never have learned otherwise. I also learned to appreciate craftsmanship and working slowly, marking nad measuring in a new way.

The class turned out to be a little lecture and lots of lab practice, trying to build skills. It certainly has made me appreciate the speed of skills, but also mourn the crude ways in which they work. Hand tools are much better for many tasks, though they can be slow. I’m only a little over halfway through class, with it continuing through the end of the month. The next couple weeks when I get back will have my busy at night, trying to finalize my project. I’ll continue blogging about that project under the same tag, in case anyone is interested.

Habitat for Humanity

I’ve told the story before, but a few years ago I was at dinner with a few couples and someone asked everyone what they’d do if they won the lottery and didn’t have to work. There were a variety of answers, but I struggled with the question. I enjoy working and enjoy my job, but when pressed, the thing that came to mind was working for Habitat to help the world.

I’ve always admired their mission, and I think helping people find a good, stable, shelter for their lives is important. With that in mind, I decided to volunteer for the Denver affiliate for Habitat. I attended an orientation, and then browsed the volunteer opportunities. In my six weeks, I volunteered 9 times, working at the ReStores, building new houses, fixing old ones, and deconstructing a kitchen for a renovation (and the cabinet donations).

It was a great experience, and I enjoyed the chance to work with a variety of Habitat employees, Americorps volunteers, and many local people that were volunteering their time. I learned a few skills an d tricks, and while I’m not sure I made a big difference, I know I made some small ones.

I also had the chance to do some good, hard, physical work outdoors. That’s something I’ve done relatively little of in the last decade, and I learned that it’s hard. I was quite worn out some of those days, and I’m not sure I could have volunteered three times a week with my other projects.


The one project I set for myself was building a flagpole out of wood. I’d seen this done on The New Yankee Workshop, and I planned to challenge myself to follow the plan and build the pole. With a DVD and measured drawing, I set out to construct a flagpole.

When I watched the DVD and thought about it, it seemed as though I should be able to build the pole in 2-3 weeks. However I didn’t count on the delays and obstacles that come into play. Weather was a big one for me, with more rain, on more afternoons, that I can remember in recent years. Those delays cut short my work on quite a few days.

In the end, I managed to complete the pole and get it painted, though there’s more work to do. I ordered hardware for the pole and still need to construct a base to hold it upright, both things I expect to handle in the next 3-4 weeks as well. The future plans have a flag flying by Labor Day.

Was It Worth the Time Off?

This is a question that Andy Warren posed to me a few weeks ago. My wife also asked me last week, “Was it great?”

Those are tough for me to answer. On one hand, it was a busy time, with lots of things happening each week. It felt somewhat surreal, as though I’d moved on to a new phase of my life. I slipped right into going to school, getting up early or construction commitments, and working on a large project around the house.

On the other hand, it was very relaxing in that I didn’t have great pressures on me. While I’d committed to Habitat projects, I moved a few around, and I knew I could cancel things as needed. I also paced myself with the flagpole, moving slower than necessary to avoid rework where possible.

I was proud of myself that I managed to avoid email and work. I didn’t check of log onto SQLServerCentral during the time, except the weekend I flew to SQL Saturday #286 – Louisville. Even then I didn’t process or clear much email and as I return to work today, I’ve got nearly 1,000 emails to clear out from the six weeks. I did continue to check Twitter a bit, though I tried to avoid reading technical pieces that were linked and avoided work discussions.

I did miss work a bit, and I’m certainly ready to come back. I slipped back into my job, checking a things on Sunday (while waiting for paint to dry) and getting ready to fly to Red Gate and SQL Bits this week.

However I do feel refreshed. I’m relaxed and unworried about SQLServerCentral, which was not always the case in the past when I’ve taken vacations. I also know some of my worldview has changed. I appreciate my job, the success I’ve had, and I do think that I’ve matured a little in terms of how I see the world.

Will this make me a better DBA/Developer/Editor/Writer? It’s hard to tell, but I’m certainly ready to dive in and grow my skills, working to educate people about SQL Server, as well as evangelize Red Gate’s products and ideals. I’m also grateful that I had the time off, and I appreciate more and more that Red Gate is a fantastic company.

All in all, it was a good six weeks of growth and change for me. I’m not dying for another six weeks off again, and I’m not sure what I’ll spend my next sabbatical doing, but I am sure that I’ll take one again in another five years if I have the chance.


I learned more about Habitat, and admire them more than before. They don’t give away houses; they sell them at cost, setting payments and carrying mortgages that enable homeowners to succeed in their lives.

I’ve also contacted their speakers bureau, thinking that my skill as a public speaker might help Habitat Denver continue to grow in the future.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Volleyball with K

Last night Kendall and I went to the rec center for the first time since my surgery to play Sunday night volleyball. I forgot my brace and was a little concerned, but figured I'd sit out if it was more than casual play.

As it turned out, it was a practice session for Kendall and I. We arrived around 5:45 to find a an empty court. We warmed up, played some pepper, and laughed a bit. We practiced serves, and some hits, though I wasn't jumping. With just the two of us, hitting every ball, we took a few breaks, hot and out of breath.

Another Dad and daughter showed up at one point, but the girl was just learning, and so we practiced on our own, serving, receiving, hitting at each other, and around 7:15 called it a night. A good time with my girl, and glad to be playing again. She heads to camp today as I head out of town.

Sabbatical Day 34 - The End

My company, Red Gate software, has given me a 6 week sabbatical. I’m documenting the time with all the posts under a tag if you want to follow along.

Today is the last day of my sabbatical, and a cut short one at that. I leave at 11 for the airport to fly to the UK for business overnight. Not quite what I expected, especially with a trip in the middle over a weekend for work, but it is what it is and I'm OK with that.

Today is actually no woodworking or volunteering. I was up early packing things, trying to find my computer/work stuff and get it in a bag, then dropping my daughter off at a volleyball camp, handling some bank paperwork that had to be notarized, and then heading to the airport.

It's amazing to think it's been six weeks. I made it a little over halfway through a woodworking class (more coming next two weeks), volunteered and learned a lot about Habitat, and built a flagpole from scratch.

I'll review the six weeks on the flight, but it's been a fun ride.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Book #32 - Blue Mars

51ss64Tj2aL._AA160_The third book in the trilogy, Blue Mars, continues where Green Mars left off. It's right after the revolution, and now Mars needs a government. As with the other books, we have long chapters from the point of view of different people, and in this case we see Sax, Art, and more as there is debate and work to create a government and constitution. It's an amazing read to see a new nation/planet get born.

We also deal with the First Hundred dying off, having issues of their own. We see the seas on Mars and the tremendous growth in terraforming to a planet where people can walk outside and breathe.

I don't want to put much out there, but it's certainly a fun read and good conclusion to the trilogy.

Sabbatical Day 33 - Paint

This is it for the sabbatical. Technically I have tomorrow, but I fly to the UK and have a few errands to run in the am, so I won't get a chance to do anything else.

However I did "finish" the pole today in a sense. It has a first coat of paint on it, and technically it could be raised if I had a base.

The day started with more primer. My daughter helped me get another coat on the pole after I filled a few holes and sanded the entire thing down with 220 grit sandpaper. We primed it all over and then headed to the store.

Photo Jul 13, 2 23 45 PM

When we got back, I put a coat on 2/3 of the pole before heading off to work on other chores. I had a lot I wanted to get done, and I forgot a few supplies, but I kept busy for an hour before flipping the pole and putting a first coat on the rest of the pole.

That was it. I had to just cover up the pole and tie it down for a week. I head to the UK tomorrow for a week, so I won't be able to sand and paint it again until next weekend. Then I'm hoping to go visit a friend and see about getting the base built from metal.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Book #31 - The Trafalgar Gambit


The Trafalgar Gambit is the third, and I'm guessing last, book in the Ark Royal series. I won't tell why I think this, but I'd be surprised to see another one.

This book has more human interest. The Ark is going back, after the Earth has been attacked and tidal waves have almost destroyed Britain. The Ark needs to contact the second faction of the aliens, and try to open negotiations for peace.

There are diplomats on board as they leave, but also spies. Kurt, the CAG, was blackmailed with videos of his affair with Rose and is told he'll be contacted during the journey and he must obey. Janelle is also struggling with the loss of both the Prince and of her privacy with the disclosure of their affair.

The Ark heads out and manages to contact the second faction. They save an alien craft that they are surprised to learn has Prince Henry on board.

The rest of the book is diplomacy and negotiations, and the unsurprising revolt by some aliens to attack the Earth. The Ark races back to intercept them for a final battle.

A fun read.

Book #30 - The Nelson Touch

51kXGO2IHkL._AA160_I borrowed the second book of the Ark Royal series,  The Nelson Touch, excited to see what happens in humanity's war against the aliens.

In this one, the Ark Royal has returned home, and the crew are heroes. However they don't get to enjoy it as they set out again, with the intent to further explore alien space and try to remove some of their infrastructure. The Ark has a joint task force, with Chinese, French, and US warships as well as modifications to their jump drive based on alien technology that allows them to use new tramlines.

They also have a secret, the Prince of the British empire is a starfighter pilot using an assumed name. The admiral and captain know, but no one else.

It's a typical space opera. Lots of battles, the humans doing damage, but losing ships. They eventually start to make their way home, but only after the Prince's starfighter explodes. Unknown to them, he ejected, but was picked up and taken prisoner by the aliens.

A good read, not great, but you need to read the first one before this.

Dinner Party

We haven't done one in a long time, but Tia invited her County Ranger friend, Scott, and his family over last night. His wife and daughter came, and we had a good time, hanging out, eating dinner, and playing pool.

They're an interesting family, he's been a ranger all his life, and they live on a county property, providing emergency shelter to animals.

Surprisingly, Kendall and Delaney hung out with us, and when Kyle got home, he joined us, playing some pool. Scott's good, and he teamed up with Delaney to win 3 or 4 games in a row before Tia and I won one. He helped Delaney make some shots, while the rest of us talked, and laughed quite a bit.

With Tia and Kendall on a diet, I wasn't sure what to make and ended up cooking Brats, burgers, and some turkey burgers with grilled corn and a large salad. I also made guac and added some salsa and bean dip.

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I also put out  a selection of drinks, one of which was hard cider, which I've been enjoying lately.

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All in all, it went well.

Sabbatical Day 32 - Catch-up with Paint

My company, Red Gate software, has given me a 6 week sabbatical. I’m documenting the time with all the posts under a tag if you want to follow along.

I'm almost out of time and I leave Monday for the UK. So it's another Saturday catch-up day.

I started the day with a trip to the store. I had to go out anyway, so I grabbed a few more sanding belts and got back to work on things.

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Using some new 36 grit sandpaper, I first hit a few rough spots where one of the 3 boards making up a side was taller than others. This went quickly, giving me a relatively smooth surface.

Then I switched to 80 grit and went up and back, flipping the pole after each passage until all 4 sides were done at that level.

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I next went to 120 grit, which is good surface prep. It's slow going and messy, as I cut lots of wood dust from the tops, along with some epoxy, but as I worked each side, it was becoming more and more of a pole.

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The first two grits also helped me round the top more, breaking and easing the edges on all sides, even where the router didn't cut deep. At the end, I had a heck of a pole.



I wanted to get moving, so I decided to prime the pole. However I first needed to fill in a few spots, which I did with wood filler.

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Then I started with the first coat of primer. I'm actually thinking to do a couple here, and the plan I had was to do the top and one side, then go back and do the other side and the top again.

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I completed one coat, the flipped it over and did the same thing on the other side. This was all "four" sides get two coats.

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The last coat wasn't completely dry when weather came in and I had to hurriedly cover things as the rain started to fall.

I need to order my truck now that I know the top size (2 1/2") and then also get more paint. Hopefully I can paint things tomorrow sometime and then start working on the base.

Sabbatical Day 31 - Rounding

My company, Red Gate software, has given me a 6 week sabbatical.

Finally, it's starting to look like a flagpole.

I was hoping my router bit would arrive early Friday, but I actually got lucky and the UPS guy brought it late Thur night as I was heading out with my daughter on an errand. With that in mind, I got up Fri morning and started to work.

A Setback

I was prepping things in the morning and realized I had a problem.

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My variable speed router has these wings for a collet and they prevent a large bit, such as this one, from being used. I have another router, but it isn't a plunge, nor variable speed, and with a bit this large, you want it spinning relatively slow.

I checked a few sites and many people have recommended just cutting these off. I've never used them in the 4 years I've had this router, so I decided to do just that.

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I grabbed my Dremel tool and added a metal cutting bit. I put the plunge base in a vise and went to work. Having cut metal before, I learned to put on long pants, long sleeves, get gloves, and use a hat with eye protection. My full face plastic visor was handy. It was slow, but I cut the wings off.

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Now I was ready to work.


The idea was to take the 45 degree cuts I'd made on each side and apply the roundover bit to create a pole. I set up the router with my bit and started at the top of the pole.

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I went to work, cutting down each side and back up the other.

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With a couple of trips, things were looking good.

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I flipped it and managed to rout all sides. One wasn't quite a clean cut as I think I cut a little deep with the circular saw, but overall things looked good.

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Wow, a pole.

I started to sand the whole thing with 80 grit on the belt sander, but weather came in with some rain drops, so I bailed.