Mar. 26th, 2009 06:50 pm
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The weather forecast for this weekend is starting to look like it might be a good thing that I haven't gotten around to putting the snowblower away.

They're talking 3" - 9" from Saturday night to Sunday night.
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Being a nice day, I started in on chopping drainage channels in the ice at the crosswalk on the corner, so that it'd drain and wouldn't pool new ice. Base channels took until lunch, and then after lunch, most of the neighbors were out helping each other shovel the piles at the end of driveways out into the street so that they'd melt, and people with short cars could see over them.

Then they all came over, and we pretty much destroyed the ice in the intersection (the contractors with the graders who do the neighborhood don't do a very good job of scraping the intersection bare), all the while talking about who's doing what and so on. We had 12-14 people standing around the intersection at one point, with ice choppers, shovels, and my digging bar (which destroys ice buildup), occasionally getting out of the way of cars.

Then I cleaned up some of the old seed, hulls, etc. under the bird feeder, until 'd filled the composter. If I do more, I'm going to have to start filling the neighbor's composter.

After that, we went to Menards for some shelf boards to do the closet in the computer room/office. We never put clothes in there, so we're going to put shelves at about 16" spacing to hold all the craft stuff and random electronics that have piled up there. I ripped the tongues off some old T&G boards from the garage, gut them to fit the sides and back wall as perimeter shelf supports, and then [ profile] teeka painted them. They're currently out in the garage (with a heater) drying, albeit slowly.

Tomorrow we'll install the shelves, and clean up the room somewhat, and then we're probably going to clean the carpeting in the bedrooms and computer room.
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Last night when I got home from work I refilled the bird feeders.

When I got up about 9am this morning, both thistle feeders were down about 4". The birdmometer (an all-purpose weather predicting device) says that either a) today's going to be worse than the weather prediction is saying; or b)significant recharging is required now that the temperature's warm enough that the birds can get out to tank back up.
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The plumbers are working their way around campus this week turning off all of the outdoor faucets, even the freeze-proof ones, because of the coming cold. I opened doors for them to turn off both of the faucets at work. One can leak without causing much trouble (it's in the back of the foundry, and there is a floor drain), but the other one's in our server room.

This always reminds me that I need to redo the back faucet some day (freeze-proof spigot and ball valve shutoff), but until something goes wrong with it, I'm not going to do anything.

I did, however, shut off and bleed down both faucets at home, just in case.

Channel 3 is currently predicting -17F Thursday night, with -40F windchill.
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I went to Woodmans last night for groceries, knowing that it was a locust night for grocery stores, but, when you're out of food, whatcha gonna do?

Came home afterwards, let [ profile] teeka put everything away, and grabbed gas cans and headed to PDQ to get them filled.

Gas at PDQ ended up being three purchases: 1) four gallons of gas in the gas cans; 2) lock de-icer for the truck gas cap; and 3) gas for the truck.

Some days you just can't win. On the upside, just in case, there is now new lock deicer in the truck, and in the pocket of my coat.
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Next step is to clear the truck off and go to the hardware store.

The preceding steps involved snow blowing the driveway and shoveling all the walks.

Why, you might ask, if I have a snow blower, am I shoveling the walks? That's because the intermediate step between those two involved the drive belt on the snowblower failing.

I've looked in the manual, so I know how to replace it, but I have to go take the old belt out in order to find out what kind it is, because the manual doesn't say.
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All the signs of winter are here:

1) The first thing I did when I got up was to start the snowblower and clear the sidewalks.
2) We had the first plow berm of the season.
3) I broke the first shear bolt of the season, and had to run out and buy more.

Usually, I'm of the opinion that there should be snow on the ground by my birthday. Well, it's there, so, enough already, ok?
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I got the snowblower to start. I've also downloaded the manual, and will eventually have to run the carburetor through an adjustment cycle. It runs, but only at full throttle, but the adjustment process isn't hard, just time consuming.

[ profile] teeka and I redid the lower workbench (that she had been using for cutting glass) to make it shorter so that there can be a second lampworking station. Eventually we (I) will have to cut in and install a second exhaust hood as well, but that'll wait until there's actually a second torch in place.

I also got my workbench mostly cleaned off, and next I should hook up the dust collector so that I can use it while I'm turning. I might get to that next, or I might just go out and make stuff, and clean up afterward.

The dust collector closet also now has a sweep on the bottom of the door and weatherstripping all the way around the door so that it seals. There are a few small leaks, but almost all of the air goes out the external vent.

Of course, I also realized that I've been messing with the weather. We had been planning on moving the camper to Stoughton for the winter, and the snowblower wasn't working, so of course it snowed today. We've since decided to leave the camper in the driveway so that we have a chance at selling it over the winter, and I've got the snowblower working, but I've also admitted to screwing with the weather....


Nov. 30th, 2008 09:39 am
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The forecast now calls for 5-10" by Monday morning.

I guess I should go work on the snowblower.
revchris: (Default)
Last weekend we were in Oregon, IL, for Stronghold's Olde English Faire.

Getting there was an adventure in itself. We take the camper with us so that we have a place to sleep and an easy way to haul the tent poles (8' poles don't fit well in a 6' truck). Friday morning we loaded the truck with all the booth stuff and the camper with sleeping bags, garb, clothes, food, and the tent poles.

Then I went to switch trailer hitches (the vending trailer is an 1-7/8" ball, the camper is 2"). I haven't had to switch hitches since Stronghold last year, so it really wasn't surprising that the lock on the hitch pin was sticking. After about 10-15 minutes and some TriFlow, I got the key to rotate far enough to unlock the pin, but not only didn't the lock release, the key wouldn't rotate back. So I got out the sawzall and removed the lock.

Then the receiver post wouldn't pull out of the receiver body. Coercive attempts with a 12# sledge hammer were unsuccessful, so we drove over to U-Haul and bought a new hitch pint (just in case it ever loosens up) and a universal post kit (you permanently mount the post and then it has both sizes of interchangeable balls) and had them install it.

A quick stop at Badger Welding Supply for a new small oxy tank, and it was back home to hook up the camper. The camper hitch wouldn't open far enough for us to get it over the ball because the surge brake cylinder had finally failed and the actuator was jammed in the "full brakes" position. So I got out the sawzall and I cut that out of the system (actually, it took a 3/8" wrench to snap the four mounting bolts off and let the cylinder drop out of the hitch, but it really seemed like a good place for a sawzall). I'm not worried about not having the cylinder in place, since it's never been functional since we got the trailer, you just have to pay attention and stop early because it's an extra 3,000# pounds of rolling load).

Finally, we've got the camper hooked up and everything loaded, and we're on our way. Unlike the way this post is trending so far, we actually got to the faire site without any other problems, other than the fact that we're now a few hours later than I had hoped, and it's getting dark.

Fortunately, we've put up the tent often enough that we can do it by flashlight if necessary. We got the tent set up, set up all the tables, and piled everything into the tent, closed all the sidewalls, and went out to get dinner. We then hung out in the camper for a while and read, and went to bed around 10p. Friday night the temperature got down to 36F. Saturday morning, we both were awake before the alarm clock, hoping that the other one would get up and make heat happen (the heater in the camper was dead when we bought it, but we've got a Coleman lantern and a camp stove, both of which put out a fair amount of heat). I got up first and made fire and then headed off to the privy. By the time I got back the fog was thick enough that you couldn't see the next campsite.

After breakfast we drove back to the faire site and set up the tent. Every time we set up it's a little different as we've got an ever-changing set of stuff for sale. Saturday was about normal for sales (in the "very good show" range), and then we closed up, had dinner, and went back to the camper for the rest of the night.

Saturday night was warmer (~44F), but Sunday morning it rained on and off until ~12:30. Sundays normally are slow in any small outdoor fair in the midwest because you've got to wait for most of the people to get done with church. Of course, when it's still drizzling after church, they mostly stay home instead of going out to the fair, so Sunday's sales were only about 30% of Saturday's, but were also about what we expected out of a rainy day. Overall we took in enough that even with the roadshow expenses, we made more than a Farmer's Market day would (our normal guideline for whether or not to keep doing a road show), and we made enough to pay for getting the cats' teeth cleaned (our other goal for this weekend).

We got home around 10p on Sunday and left the camper and truck on the street. It's much easier to back the camper up the driveway on Monday morning after I've had a full night's sleep and it's light out. After I parked the camper I did some errands and then took Marley to the vet for blood tests they needed to go to make sure she'd probably survive the anesthesia during the dental work. Then it was off to work for the afternoon.

We're home

Jun. 8th, 2008 10:51 pm
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Really crappy weather for an outdoor show weekend.

Saturday, Pirate Fest shut down early because of weather. First they shut us down around 5:30 because PWPD was telling everyone that they were expecting 100MPH straight-line winds. Then, about 6p we went back outside because the front had gone through, and, while we were trying to decide whether to unseal tents, the faire organizers decided that since there was another front due in about half an hour, it wasn't worth opening up, then closing until the weather cleared, and then opening back up for whoever possibly might have stayed. So we closed up shop and headed back to Keith & Kendra's, where we got to hang out for a while for Keith's birthday party (instead of getting back around 11p because the faire was supposed to have gone until 10p).

Getting to K&K's, however, was a whole other story. We were on I43 when the second front hit. I could see where the road was, but traffic slowed down to about 40MPH. When we got to Capitol, it was closed at Port Washington Road because the underpass was flooded. We followed the rest of the traffic south on PW and then eventually east through the city until the leader of our group led us all into a dead end. Eventually, after carefully driving through a lot of flooded intersection, we made it to Humboldt, and then back to Capitol. Humboldt had a flooded stretch that was over the hubcaps, but we made it through, and then over the bridge to the higher side of the city, where there were fewer flooded spots.

Today it also rained a lot, but the faire stayed open the whole time. Not many people were out today, but things picked up around 3, but not to where we had hoped. All in all, we made expenses plus about what we would have made on a normal Farmer's Market, making it a fairly good show, with the weather that we had.

Driving home today we took Brown Deer to 45 to I94 in order to miss all the construction. We stopped at Target and bought a roll of duct tape and sealed the trailer up (after a weekend of rain, one of the roof panels had warped enough that the lid wouldn't seal). Heavy Dudy All-Weather Duct Tape (I don't recall what brand) works well. Nothing came loose during the trip back, even though there was enough rain to slow everyone down to 55MPH for most of the trip, with drops to about 30 in the worst spots. We still got some water in the cart, but not as much as we would have had without the tape. I've currently got a fan blowing into the cart to try and dry it out somewhat.

When we got home, there is a little water in the basement, so tomorrow I'll have to clear the driveway side downspout (I'm sure it's full of maple seeds). Eventually, I'll have to try and seal the crack under one of the windows, as that's the first place that leaks. I also now see that I need to knock out the patch from (I think) the original water line and reseal it, as it's also leaking a little. That part of the foundation is also covered by the driveway gutters, so clearing that side should fix both spots. Meanwhile, there's a fan and a dehumidifier working on the basement.

I'm also doing laundry. All the tablecloths are wet, so they and our garb are in the washer & dryer right now so that we don't have to worry about mildew or permanent stains.

Tomorrow we're planning on day tripping to Chippewa Falls to take the tables and other big display elements to the shop we're renting and to measure the place so that we can figure out what we want to do for displays. Then I'm going to spend the rest of the week making displays and getting stuff ready, as the faire opens Saturday for a five weekend run.

I also need plan to put new wheel bearings and bearing covers into the trailer because the current ones are two years old, the caps have been missing for a year, and I'm sure that all the water tonight isn't going to help. I'll for sure regrease them before the trailer goes on the road again, but if I can find the manual to order new parts from, I'd like to do some more extensive maintenance.


Feb. 25th, 2008 07:20 pm
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Where'd the weather go?

There was supposed to be freezing rain and blizzard by now.

Not that I mind too much - I had time when I got home to go out and finish clearing the ice off the sidewalks and driveway.
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[ profile] teeka and I chipped the ice off of the sidewalks and the driveway this weekend and I got the ice cleared out of most of the gutters. The end of the driveway has a bit of a bump to is, as I didn't feel like chopping the 2-3" of ice off the road. I just threw on a bunch of salt, and I'm going to think happy thoughts about it melting.

Mike (the next door neighbor) asked me today (while he was chopping ice) if I put salt on my roof. I told him I had, as a little salt should do less damage than an ice dam. He said he had been wondering why my roof is clear of ice along the edges when everyone else's in the neighborhood isn't.

I told him that wasn't the salt, that was the fact that I shoveled all the snow off the edge 3-4' of roof on Wednesday so that the last few warm days would have a chance to melt the rest of the edges clean.

Hopefully, the clean edges plus the empty gutters will mean that all the new precipitation this weekend won't freeze up completely on my roof. It also means that Tuesday I should rake off the roof again so that if can melt more.

This whole snow shoveling thing is starting to get old.
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Heading out the door this morning I walked across the top of the snow without breaking through anywhere.

That really doesn't happen very often.

Very icy sidewalks on the way to the bus, too.

More Snow!

Dec. 2nd, 2007 01:32 pm
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I went out this morning to see where the snowblower was broken and discovered that it was only jammed up on a piece of stick. I removed the stick and then did about 2/3 of the driveway and the sidewalk to the south of the driveway, including the next two neighbors (the next neighbor is the one who would do my sidewalk if I wasn't around, and he usually also gets the neighbor on his other side, so I did them both). Then I sheared a bolt on the left side of the auger.

Meikles True-Value doesn't stock shear bolts or roll pins. They sell snow blowers, but not the parts people are most likely to need. I went further up Sherman to Dorn, and when I told them that Meikle's didn't carry them, you could see the "Idiots!" going through the guy's head, but he didn't say anything.

There are 4 sizes of "standard" shear bolts. I bought three of them (I figured I didn't need the ones for a "compact" snow blower), and now know that my snow blower takes 1/4" x 1-3/4" shear bolts.

I got the rest of the driveway done and all of the sidewalk, but sheared the right-side bolt as I was finishing the plow berm at the crosswalk. Off to Dorn, where I returned the two extra bolts and bought three more spares (one for right away and two for the next storm).

Everything is now cleaned up and sanded & salted, and it's snowing again, but lightly.

With wet, heavy snow, the driveway, 400' of sidewalk, one curb cut, breakfast, and two trips to the hardware store takes about 4 hours. Not bad, considering I could have had to shovel (in which case I wouldn't probably have done the extra sidewalks).


Oct. 8th, 2007 09:03 pm
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We survived the weekend, but only barely.

It was 86-87F for highs and 94% humidity. The site has a lot of trees around it, so there wasn't much for breezes, either. I think the two of us went through a case and a half of bottles water.

We did, however, have a lot of fun. Maggs did lampworking demonstrations for most of both days while I ran sales in the tent. Saturday started off slow ($25 in sales by 12:30p), but then things picked up until by the end of Saturday it was a "really good show."

Normally we expect that Sundays will start off slow, as everyone has to get done with church first. With a site run by the Presbyterians, you'd expect that that would be even more the case. Shortly after opening on Sunday a couple came in, saw the larger of the two chain flails and were interested. They decided they didn't like the smaller one (I need to put a bigger hand loop on it), and when I took the bigger one down off the display they were even more interested. After he tried it out oh her, and she declared it to be "fairly thuddy, but with just a little sting," they decide to buy it, and gave me a pile of cash. That was about half of Sunday's sales, dollar-wise.

So, now I need to start thinking about making another one. Probably in anodized aluminum, if I can figure out what size rings to do the handle in.

We got everything packed up Sunday night in about an hour and a half, finishing in the dark (the fair ends at 6p, and by 7:30 it's fairly dark, as there really aren't any outside lights). We stopped at the first fast food place we came to (Burger King) for food and dry clothes, and then drove the rest of the way home. When we got back, we parked the whole rig on the street since it was too dark to see to maneuver the camper, and we were both tired. This morning, I got the camper and the truck into the driveway in one try (take a Ford Ranger, add on a trailer with an 11' x 7' box, and then, using only a normal 2-lane street for maneuvering room, back it into an 8' wide driveway). My trailer skills are definitely improving.

Maggs got the tent laundry (side walls and table covers) done today, but I probably still need to pull the laundry basket out of the camper. The tent top is spread out over a bunch of stuff in the basement, and is probably dry by now, so we'll need to decide how we're cleaning it, and then put it away if we're not going to do anything soon. I think Maggs said she's going to unpack the truck back into her cart tomorrow; hopefully there won't be any rain to interfere with that.
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Lightning just took out one of DoIT's chillers, so they've started shutting nonessential servers down. If the chiller can't be fixed by noon (or thereabouts), they're going to start shutting down "essential campus services."
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Jake (the guy with the downed tree) says his insurance agent, when he recovered from the heart attack, asked for another estimate. While Maggs and I were over there, the third guy showed up for the estimate.

The first two estimates were $16,200 and $14,700. The third estimate (from one of those "I've been doing this for 30 years, and you really don't need a crane for this" old guys) was for $4500, with the job only taking a day or so. I didn't see the name on the business card, but if his work looks good, next time I need trimming, I'll have to ask Jake who the guy was.

Now, pictures:

click for 1.7MB version

This is a quick panorama I put together to show what happened. There also is a closeup of the break and where the crown hit (both are large files).

Jake says the base of the tree has a circumference of 15.5 feet, making it a hair under 5' in diameter. I may have to keep an eye on things and grab some more wood for slabbing and drying for turning.


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