Friday, November 27, 2009

So...should I keep maintaining this blog?

It seems Facebook is the thing to do now, so I find myself wondering if I want to keep this blog going.

If anyone is looking, make a comment, and let me know what your opinion is. I really do have stuff that I could post my new On30 Climax with DCC and sound.....

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Access Databases

I've spent the last couple of weeks creating an Access 2007 database to emulate a database that was created some ten years ago. I've managed to get the important functionality working, and have created a pretty simple interface for our users.

It's interesting to use a tool that you aren't familiar with because ther is always so much to learn. I've spent an incredible amount of time with my nose in various books or digging around online. The entire experience has been a lot of fun, and if you have been avoiding using a new tool, as I was, I'd recommend it as a fun exercise!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

The porch light is off, the candy is (mostly) gone, and Halloween is mostly over. I hope everyone had a great one!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

It's done!

I know I said I'd write about some thing different, but I have to announce that the bathroom remodel that wouldn't end has finally ended! I still need to put the trim around the door, but that's all. The shower is in, the towel rack is mounted, and there is TP!

Here you can see a corner of the shower, the sink, and the toilet.

This is the sink and mirror.

This is the shower.

Now that it's done, I'll shut up about it and get back to model railroading.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

About time I posted something...

Well, it's been a while, but then I've been busy. The bathroom is coming along well, so that is where we'll start.

By the end of August, I got the sheetrock up, taped, and mudded. This is a picture of what the sink area looked like.

By the 8th of September, the bathroom had been given a coat of blue paint, and I was cleaning up some details.

I realized that the opening for a pocket door, which is what was used previously, is 2 inches highr than the opening for a regular door, so had to add a 2X4 and then sheetrock it. Of course, there were complications, but it's done.

Here is what the bathroom looks like now. The sink is in place, though the plumbing isn't hooked up yet (I'm going to that when I put in the toilet). The shower base is set, and the toilet ring is plumbed in. I've got white molding around the top of the bathroom, and am about to put in the base molding (it has to be done before I put the toilet in).

I'll try to post about something else next time, since I'm sure anyone who happens to read this is probably tired of hearing about my bathroom!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Doing it right

So...I was looking at the floor in the bathroom, and I realized that there was a largish bit of the original floor left, and that it really needed to come out. For one thing, when the floor was first put in 3/4 of an inch was actually 3/4 of an inch. Now 3/4 of an inch is actually 23/32 or something. This meant that the new floor was about 1/8 (or less) lower than the original floor. Not good when you are putting in linoleum.

I realized that there was only 1 thing I could do, and that was cut out the offending floor. I did that yesterday, and will be filling in the hole with new subfloor and floor tomorrow.

At least it will be right!

In other news, the sheetrock is all mudded and sanded. I'm going to paint the walls a sort of denim blue with white trim. It should look pretty good!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Tape and Mud!

I'm finally making some real progress! Today, I taped and put the first coat of mud on the walls. Tomorrow, I'll put on a second coat, and then by Wednesday or Thursday I can sand and start thinking about painting the walls and ceiling.

This is where the bathtub was, and where the sink will be. The sink will be on the left side.

This is where the sink was, and where the shower will be.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

More progress

I finally got all the sheetrock up, and am ready to start taping and mudding.

Pictures when it looks decent...

Monday, August 17, 2009

Bathroom Progress!

Saturday, I spent the day finalizing the plumbing and getting the floor screwed down (finally). It was a great feeling to put that first screw in the floor, and an even better feeling to put the last screw in!

My goal for today was to insulate and sheetrock the outside wall, and I managed to get that done before eating dinner. Fortunately, I had just enough screws to finish the wall, but not enough to move on to another wall. That'll have to wait for another day.

Below are a couple of progress pictures from today.

This is the left side of the bathroom. You can see the stubbed plumbing for the sink in front. The sink will be centered on the south wall of the bathroom. By the way, that partial piece of sheetrock isn't screwed in. I just put it there to get it out of the way.

This picture is looking past where the shower will be to the corner where the toilet goes. The toilet ring isn't actually installed yet. I'm going to have the linoleum put in before installing the toilet ring or shower. That way the whole bathroom floor will be one piece.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Memorial Hill

In Midway, Utah, there is a hill called Memorial Hill, which has been dedicated to those from Wasatch County who have served in wars as far back as the War of 1812.

You can see the hill sticking up in this picture.

On top of the hill is a war memorial with the name of everyone from the county who has served their country, including my father, one of my uncles, and my grandfather.

As part of our family reunion, we had a gathering on top of the hill, and listened to the four surviving original siblings talk about their experiences during the World War II years.

In this picture, members of the family are listing to my dad talk about serving during the Battle of the Bulge, in 1945. His younger brother spoke about their father's service in WWI, and his support of the troops during WWII. Their sisters spoke about their memories as children during the war years, and their mother's contributions.

Even though it got a bit warm up there, it was well worth the time to learn more about our family's heritage and service.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


We just got back from a family reunion in Midway, Utah. I'm happy to report that we had an awesome time with all the cousins, and that it was great being up in the Utah mountains.

This is Trish enjoying the early morning. We set up a tent under a tree, and slept great every night!

I think there were about 50 of us there for the main event, and I'm pretty sure we all got along great. Lots of kids running around having fun, lots of food, and lots of sitting around playing games and visiting.

Of course we rode the Heber Valley Railroad, which was a lot of fun. We all piled on, with engineer hats, and rode out to Soldier Hollow.

Along the way, robbers showed up to rob the train and take hostages (people who had paid to go on a wagon ride). Unfortunately, no one told the engineer or conductor that the train was supposed to be "robbed" on this particular trip! To make things more interesting, the people who were to go on the ride were never given the special green wristbands, so didn't say anything when the robbers asked for those with wristbands to get off. It all got sorted out in the end, but sure made for an interesting ride!

Tomorrow (hopefully), I will talk about the main event of the weekend, which was a recognition of the military heritage in our family. This was conducted on top of Memorial Hill, in Midway, with our parents as speakers.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


Not much to report:

The unending bathroom project is still unending. I asked Home Depot to order a shower for me, and they didn't, so I went to Lowes. The shower should be here around the 20th. Once I have the shower, the rest of the project can pick back up. I never would have believed that one component could prove to be so central to the overall project.

Beaux is in Dallas at a truck driving school. He heads out on the road on Monday. Hopefully, it will be as much fun as he's always thought it would be.

I haven't done any work on trains, and probably won't for the forseeable future. I have to get the bathroom done first.

More later on...

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


The bathroom is on hold for a few days, while I wait for Home Depot to get in a 32"x33" shower. The really cool 1/4 round shower I had bought was too big fit into the bathroom. After a few days of hard work that accomplished very little, I'm not too upset about taking a bit of time off.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Tools and progress

Anytime you are involved in a major building project, there are tools to acquire. For the bathroom project we have needed several new tools, some replacing tools that seem to have disppeared or been broken over time, and some new ones.

So far, I have bought a recipricating saw, a circular saw, a cordless drill, a drill with a cord, a pipe wrench, a chain wrench, about $120 worth of hole saws (that's 2 saws and an arbor, by the way), a Rotozip-type tool (Harbor Freight), and assorted bits and pieces of stuff.

The demolition is finally finished, and we have started with replumbing (more than once, as plans have changed). The hot water supply lines are all run, but turned off, and the cold water has one more connection for the shower that I'll make tomorrow or Monday.

Ready to start running the new water lines.

One of Beaux' friends was helping with the PVC supply lines, and apparently didn't use enough glue. In this picture, I'm checking the joints on the line for the toilet to see if it needs to be redone.

I was having fun playing with the glue and pieces-parts. PVC is so much better to work with than copper or cast iron!

The pieces of plywood for the floor have been cut and laid in place, but not screwed down, since we still need to do the drain lines for everything. I laid the shower floor in place and discovered that it came too close to the toilet, so the shower got moved to the other side of the bathroom and we are back to putting a small pedestal sink in next to the toilet.

Also, reading the instructions for the shower (always a good idea), I discovered that we need to put the sheetrock in first! So, we will start insulating and doing sheetrock work later this week, and then get the shower set.

I keep finding out that I have to do a bit on this part, then a bit on that part, so that the whole project is knitted together: I can't screw down the floor till I finish the plumbing, which I can't do till I have the shower in place, which I can't do until the sheetrock is in place, which I can't do until the floor is screwed down!

Good thing it's a small bathroom!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The bathroom remodel lives again!

We're finally back at the bathroom remodeling project, and hope to progress quickly. Beaux ran to the store and picked up a new reciprocating saw (the old one had died), and cut out the floor. Now as threatened, I can stand in the dirt and look at the bare studs!

I'm standing about where the door will be. The tape measure is so that I can see the measurements for the toilet. There will be plenty of space in front of it now!

The sink was going to go on the wall on the left, but there is a concrete sill from the original foundation there, so a brilliant idea occurred to move the sink to where the bathtub controls were. Now we don't have to move any of that plumbing! Additionally, the wall on the left becomes nothing but storage shelves/cabinets!

After extending the wall out to 36 inches, we're going to put a quarter-round shower where the light switch is now. Of course, we'll move the wiring first. The advantage is that once again, we don't have to move any plumbing, since the sink used to be there.

The boys are going to be able to do quite a bit of the work, but Beaux' time is limited as he is going to a school in Dallas next week. I'm sure I'll have to bring in my plumber to not only look the work over, but finish up parts of it. I don't have any problem with that though.

I'll post more as it happens...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Bathroom Update

Remember the bathroom I was remodeling before my son's house burned down? It's still bare studs and sub-floor. I had to stop working on it because kid problems overrode bathroom remodeling, and now it's been sitting for about 2 months (walled off by plastic and duct tape).

A few weeks back, I realized I had a Whole Life insurance policy my parents had taken out on me when I was around 5 (I'm getting dangerously close to 50 now). Realizing that Whole Life is evil, and that I have quite a bit of regular life insurance, I contacted the company and asked them to close the account. After filling out the appropriate form, and sending a blank voided check, I sat back to wait for the money to be deposited.

We came back from a camping trip today and happened to look at our bank balances, and guess what? There was a whole bunch of money there, and it turned out to be about twice what I had been expecting!

So, off we went to Lowes and Home Depot to look at bathroom stuff. Monday I'll be calling the plumber to set up what he'll be doing (and charging), and then it's back to heavy construction.

I'll post pictures as appropriate, and will keep this blog updated.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Upcoming project

A model railroader I know in Dallas made a display case for his On30 trains. I saw the pictures and dimensions, and thought that this might be a fun project (and would get my trains protected behind glass).

The drawing is a bit small (click to see the full-size drawing), but the case will be 24 X 48 inches on the outside, with 5 shelves 3 7/8 inches apart. I'll put plexiglass doors on the front to keep the dust out, and will stain the wood a nice color.

I'm looking forward to this project, and hope to get started in a few days. Of course, I will post pictures as I go.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Last of the fire cleanup

I thought I'd put up a few pictures of the last of the fire cleanup. The brother of a contractor Beaux used to work for offered to clean up the mess for $1500, which would come out of the money for the recovered metal. It sounded like a pretty good deal, so we said sure!

There was quite a big mess to clean up! They brought out a dumptruck, front-end loader/backhoe, and a big trailer.

Piles of debris and some smoke from fires started with the cutting torch.

Separating the metal out from the ashes and debris.

They dug a 14-foot deep hole and buried all the was mostly ashes anyway.

They collected 7000 pounds of metal! Unfortunately, the price of metal has nosedived to less than $.05/pound. They only got $149 for the lot.

This is how it looked when they were done. The site is pretty much cleared off.

One final note. There used to be a metal storage shed next to the trailer. There are plenty of pictures showing it. In the building were the only remaining things my sons had left, including Beaux' saxaphone mouthpiece from 7th grade and a dresser with some clothes, pictures, and other personal items.

A week or so after the fire, an individual, who I am not going to name because of the ongoing investigation, showed up with a trailer, loaded up the building, and took it home. He did not have permission to do this, and simply thought he could get away with it. The building had figured prominently in divorce proceedings, and the judge's decree specified that Beaux was to keep it.

When we contacted the Sheriff's Department, and they interviewed the neighbors, they all gave consistant descriptions of the truck, the trailer, and the two older "gentlemen" who had the cajones to do this in the middle of the day. One even thoughtfully provided a license plate number.

I understand that this individual has retained an attorney who is maintaining that the building is his property. He knows this is a lie, I know this is a lie, and the Sheriff's Dept. knows this is a lie. What kind of a person steals from someone whose house has just burned down?

Not only are his actions absolutely disgusting, but they will probably negatively affect his step-daughter who works in law enforcement. I certainly hope so, since she had to know about it at the time. I doubt he cares about that though.

I sure hope he enjoys "his" metal building...while he can.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Haven't forgotten about it...

Just been really really busy. I'll post more soon.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Fire cleanup

I went out at lunchtime today to shoot a few pictures of the cleanup effort where Beaux' trailer was. The metal framework is pretty much all cut into managable pieces, and is ready to be loaded up and hauled off for scrap. Everything else (pretty much just ashes and some wood scraps) will be buried.

This is just a view from the end where Patrick's room was, looking toward where Beaux' room was.

I'm standing in the kitchen. That is the furnace in front of me. Using a cutting torch causes lots of small fires, so there is some smoke.

This is a 12" steel I beam. A cutting torch makes short work of it!

Notice how wavy the I-beams are from the fire. Trailers burn pretty hot!

Beaux' computer. Patrick's looks a lot like this....

Beaux taking a break from cutting metal.

We found a beaten up and burned powder horn. I think it was a gift from the boy's grandparents some years back. It was probably old...

Patrick's cast iron frying pan. After I clean it up, and reseason it, you will never know.

Cutting some metal up. This was part of the front porch.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Another update post

I haven't forgotten about this blog...I've just been insanely busy!

Since my last post, things have continued. My son's metal building was stolen. What kind of person steals from someone whose house just burned down? We know who took it, where it is, and the sheriff's office has been been appropriately notified. All I can say at this point about that.

Patrick is back at work after the accident, and Beaux has started truck driving school in San Antonio. When Patrick gets back in town, we're going to cut up the trailer frame to sell for scrap. The money from that will pay for cleaning up the rest of the site, so it will be worth the time and effort. I'm hoping their lives start coming back together.

Kyle and Matthew should both be back from their deployments in another week or so. One is in Baghdad, and the other is in Kyrgyzstan. Dusty and Aerro will be happy, I'm sure!

We're just trying to hold the whole thing together, and babysit dogs. More when it happens....

Saturday, April 25, 2009

When it rains, it pours!

We had a bit more excitement the other day. Patrick had gone off to work, and was somewhere in South Texas with his crew, at 3am, when the right front tire on their company truck blew!

This was a big, not-quite-a-semi, crew truck, loaded with oil, and pulling a trailer full of tools and parts. Patrick was driving, and as he tried to get slowed down, the right wheel rim made contact with the shoulder of the road and off they went.

They went down the hill and into a mesquite thicket, missing the first large tree, and using several small trees as brakes, before finally hitting and stopping against another large tree.

A large tree branch came in through the windshield, and went out through another window without hitting anybody!

Everyone got away with nothing more than a few bruises, though the truck was totalled. It seems our boys are being watched over, and we are grateful for the blessings we are receiving.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The update

Now that the initial shock of the boy's trailer fire is over, I thought I'd pass on a couple of update things.

Members of the church have been incredibly generous with offers of clothes, furniture, etc. We are grateful for them, and for all the blessings in our lives.

The Red Cross initially gave the boys hygene kits and a prepaid credit card to use for clothes. This allowed them to go get socks, underwear, and so on so they could take showers and put on clean clothes. You would be amazed at how important something as small as the ability to take a shower and put on clean socks can be.

A couple of the furniture stores here in town will donate furniture (a houseful, apparently) once they see the official fire report. It just happens that the incident commander at the fire lives right down the road from the trailer, and he has the report waiting for Beaux to pick up.

It is highly possible that it will be worth it to someone Beaux knows to clean up the site for the price of the metal. Apparently, the twelve inch, seventy foot long I-beams under the trailer are worth several thousand dollars, and the metal from the roof is worth a couple thousand more.

Beaux used to work for a guy who runs a construction company, and had once told Beaux he would build him a house at "cost". He has just reiterated that offer to Beaux. The loan officer at the credit union is very interested in the prospect, and may be willing to finance the deal, rolling the original loan on the land in, and so on.

Patrick, for some unexplained reason, was overpaid several hundred dollars after his last trip. When he went to his boss about it, he was told not to worry about it. He was also told he was going to get at least one more check that would be too much. This happened before the fire. The extra money will certainly come in handy.

We were able to get a replacement key (and a spare) for Beaux' truck, and he is in the process of rebuilding his wallet.

Patrick was very lucky to have grabbed his wallet and keys on his way out of the house. We also found Patrick's brand new glasses, in their case, undamaged! The case was singed, but it had been inside his trip bag, and being metal, had protected the glasses. Patrick was also able to find some pictures that weren't destroyed.

The one group I'm not impressed with is Direct TV. When Patrick contacted them about the fire, they told him he would have to pay them for the DVR that got burned up, and he is going to have to pay them to turn off the contract. Maybe if he gave them the DVR back....

I was able to get some pictures off Patrick's cell phone from just about the time they got the fire put out. They are below...

This was taken from behind the fire trucks. Patrick's truck is on the right, and Beaux' is just visible in the glare from the lights. Patrick had to tow Beaux' truck (it's an automatic) backwards across the road. The transmission and gear box weren't damaged!

Firemen digging through the rubble

Firemen looking at the debris. There were firemen and engines from three different volunteer fire departments!

Firemen and neighbors looking at bits of stuff. In the foreground is a large piece of the metal roof. The firemen used hooks and just pulled it off at some point.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Trailer fire

At 4:45 this morning, our phone rang. It was one of our sons telling us that they had all gotten out alright, but the trailer was a total loss. It appears the fire might have started from faulty wiring.

Now that we were wide awake, we threw on our clothes and headed down to where the boys live. we saw the glow in the sky from a couple of miles away, and there were plenty of emergency vehicles around. I think 3 volunteer fire departments ultimately responded.

The trailer was a total loss, and the boys lost everything, but everyone there (there were a couple of friends visiting) got out alright. We are incredibly grateful for that blessing. The Red Cross gave the boys a $300 prepaid credit card and referrals to the various thrift stores in town.

Trish and I went back down this evening, and took some pictures. Here they are:

There was a trailer here last night...

Part of the roof is in the front.

This was the living room. The bricks that were under the wood stove are still smoking.

Part of a pair of jeans. The boys lost all their stuff...

This is "Killer" the lawnmower