Adventures in decks

The deck was originally thought to be a weekend, or maybe a week project. We’re into the third week now and still have only finished the posts and railings. So it turns out it’s actually really hard to find 72 hours rain-free in Pittsburgh in the summer, and also scrubbing and sanding a deck (particularly all the little wooden posts) takes much longer than you’d expect. I think overall the deck scrubbing took 27 man hours, and sanding and staining doing 1/5 of the deck takes about 10 man hours. Assuming you can find the consecutive days of sun to do it.

We also had some fun… the first staining we did was on a weekend that called for no rain. But of course a cloud comes in from nowhere and drops a small amount of rain just as we put the first coat of stain on the railing. It turns out this causes little white spots to be permanently stuck in the stain. They’re fortunately a bit less visible now, and we applied a second layer of stain over it that seems to be doing fine.
Also, I spent Sunday morning sanding and staining some deck, only for the rain to come sooner than expected (overnight and Monday morning). But I guess ~12 hours was enough time for the stain to dry enough to be waterproof, because it survived the rain without visible problems, which I’m hoping means it’s fine.

It’s supposed to be dry now through Thursday, so hopefully we can sand the floor itself Wednesday evening, stain it early Thursday morning, and be okay for the rain coming Friday. That’ll be all of the functional part done.

Not much else happens in life. We had a work-from-home party last week where some people came over and we all worked together in the same room and got lunch together. It was a nice change from the usual working alone.

Russell was also around last week (For work), and there was rock banding and late night fooding. (No softball, unfortunately, as it was cancelled for the entire week due to field issues.)

Yay for life and things.

Life and links

Life is a thing. The parents came and went, and it was an awesome time, even though we didn’t really have many scheduled activities after the road trip. It was nice just generally having them around, I guess.

The latest house project is the deck. We fell behind on our time estimates (and also the forecast called for rain), so we’re only done with the scrubbing/cleaning part. We still need to sand and stain it at some point, but it needs to be when it’s going to be dry for a while, so we’ll see. It’s funny how much of a difference the cleaner makes.

I’ve had a lot of interesting reads recently, so here’s a dump of links to interesting things.

  • People that disagree with you aren’t necessarily wrong, or stupid – I think this is something that a lot of SJW (and other general) people are bad at recognizing. This is particularly true with things like abortion, LGBTQ rights, and Brexit… the other side has reasons for disagreeing, and digging your heels in is just going to make things worse. This is also why I feel strongly against things like the (successful) campaign to force Brendan Eich to resign over his prop 8 donations… he’s allowed to have opinions, however unpopular, as long as he’s treating people equally in his role as CEO. The fact that people bullied him and tried to force him to change his views to keep his job was completely unacceptable.
  • Inside private prisons – Just generally a super interesting read.
  • What if Harry Potter was a squib? – An awesome alternate reality fanfic. Massive spoilers (obviously), and requires a lot of background knowledge about the series, but this was super enjoyable.
  • What if Harry Potter’s twin was mistakingly thought to be the boy who lived? – Another alternate reality fanfic that is good if you get can get past the multitude of grammatical and spelling errors, run-on paragraphs, and strange writing.
  • Photographing landmark locations without landmarks – Super interesting from many perspectives.
  • San Jose displaces 670 people from rent-controlled apartments – Yay for yet more bay area housing problems. At least they’re doing the right thing by building more high-density apartments, but I wish there was more help in place for people affected by such construction.
  • Thoughts on Brexit and democracy – It’s always interesting to me to read things that argue that mass democracy is problematic… and what’s been happening lately around the world sure supports that. In particular, the leaders in the UK seem to have no idea what to do now that they’ve actually passed their proposal to leave the EU. I stumbled across the wiki page for Germany’s Basic Law recently, and I found it super interesting that they couldn’t remove the Chancellor without a replacement lined up. Seems like a lot of populist movements need better ideas of what to do what happens after they succeed… in the Brexit case, it seems the people in charge were using the situation for political gain without any expectation of actually winning. And now that they have, they are clueless.
  • Fired for a proposal for relaxing the dress code – After my initial impression of “What is wrong with you?”, I actually can understand a lot of why this made sense to the OP. Coming from an academic environment, it isn’t normal to assume that some people are more equal than others, and work is not a democracy. Still, hopefully she (he?) learned a lot of valuable lessons from this. (Also, that entire blog is really interesting and informative to read.) Also I feel bad for the other interns, since it sounded like she was the ringleader, and managed to really screw a lot of other people in the process.
  • Guy functions without most of his brain – Brains are super interesting and crazy adaptive, I guess?

Yay life.

Busy busy

We’re in the middle of a crazy June, and life goes well but super busy. Here’s photos from things.

Two weekends ago was Chris and Rob’s wedding. Friday they had a really nice welcome picnic in Schenley Park, and Saturday was their wedding at the Union Project.






Last weekend Owen was in town, as the first leg on a general east coast visit. There were board games and a bit of hiking in Hartwood Acres.


This past weekend Sharon was in town, and we met up with a bunch of her undergrad friends and had a Rock Band session. Also I hosted board games.



My parents fly into town tomorrow as the first part of their ~1.5 week east coast visit. I’m heading to Philly with them for a couple of days before they do some travel on their own.

This follows a crazy May where every weekend had *something* happening as well. July is, thus far, a little less crazy. But it’s shaping up to be a really busy summer… somehow we manage to find time to do housework, but not nearly as much as we need to be doing this summer.

Life, social media and smartphones, Pepsi cookies

My photo journal has been updated to bring it current to today.
May was one heck of a month for gaming… in addition to the weekly Thursday board games, we hosted board games at the house three times, and hosted rock band a few times as well. Life being full of board games and people makes me happy.

I’ve been meeting a lot of new people recently in life, through both softball photography and board gaming. This has given me a desire to start working on People Wars again, so the Juxtapositions expansion continues onward. The set is adding a new card type Dream, that acts like a character once played but goes away at the end of the turn, and new Softball characters that have abilities that interact with Dreams. It should be an interesting mechanic to explore… maybe at some point I’ll get around to printing updated decks and actually playing again.


Owen sent me this article recently, and it just reinforces my desire to not get a smartphone. I’d previously ranted about social media and I don’t think any those opinions have changed since then. If anything, it’s gotten worse since then… my LiveJournal friends page has become basically a webcomic RSS reader and, with few exceptions, the posts that do still show up there are often only several sentences and seem like something that would be appropriate for Twitter.
I’m so old and curmudgeony. :P
Still, I guess I do see the benefit of having a semi-permanent way of contacting people as necessary. Email addresses change, IM services stop existing or fall into disuse… but your Facebook account (as long as you have an account) is pretty much always going to be you. It’s actually rather alarming how many FB messages I’ve sent recently to people. (Many of them were just asking for email addresses, but still…)

I’d previously made Coca-Cola cookies but they turned out rather strange, I assumed due to the lack of sugar in the soda. We recently got some Pepsi made with real sugar, so I figured I’d give it a try again, this time basing it on this recipe.

1/2 c butter
1/2 c sugar
1/2 egg (I just used the egg white)
1 c flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 can Pepsi (with real sugar)

Melt the butter, and mix it with the sugar until well mixed.
Boil down the Pepsi until it’s thick and syrupy, and immediately pour into the butter/sugar mixture. (It should be reduced enough that it turns hard quickly when heat is removed.) Mix well.
Add the egg, and mix well.
In a separate bowl, mix together dry ingredients, then slowly mix into wet ingredients.
Place small spoonfulls onto a baking sheet, and bake at 350 degrees for 14 minutes.

I think they turned out better this time? They taste a lot like caramel, and not a lot like Pepsi, but they’re still pleasantly sweet and chewy.

If I was doing this again, I would probably add more Pepsi and remove a bit of the sugar. Maybe 2 cans of Pepsi, and then only 1/3 c of sugar? It might flavor them a little stronger.

Life goes. Yay for life.

Posty McPostface, camera stats

You may remember the (failed) chronicles of Boaty McBoatface and its subsequent use for one of the ship’s subs instead.

Apparently Google just released Parsey McParseface today, and Racist McShootface is bidding on some guns.

This makes me happy. Happy McHappyface?

In other unrelated things, GSA Softball has started up for the year, which means lots of nice opportunities for me to get my sports photography on.



It’s been about half a year since I’ve done photo stats, and I’ve gotten a new camera since then. Photoshop album now reports 408319 tagged photos through yesterday (May 12).

Here’s individual camera stats, including all cameras for comparison

Intel Pocket PC camera October 6, 2000 – September 18, 2003 1077 days; 2.95 years 15,829 photos $200 14.7 photos per day 1.26¢ per photo
Olympus C3000 Zoom September 28, 2001 – December 5, 2003 798 days; 2.186 years 10,647 photos $450 13.3 photos per day 4.23¢ per photo
Kodak Easyshare DX6490 December 8, 2003 – March 17, 2006 830 days; 2.274 years 49,413 photos $500 59.5 photos per day 1.01¢ per photo
Nikon D50 March 22, 2006 – November 15, 2009 1334 days; 3.655 years 105,067 photos $570 78.8 photos per day 0.54¢ per photo
+$250 repair cost 0.78¢ per photo
106,916 shutter releases $570 80.15 shutter releases per day 0.533¢ per shutter release
+$250 repair cost 0.77¢ per shutter release
Samsung SL30
(Current)
July 27, 2009 – May 11, 2016 2480 days; 6.79 years 20,879 photos $70 8.42 photos per day 0.34¢ per photo
Nikon D90
(Current)
February 26, 2010 – May 12, 2016 2267 days; 6.21 years 200,264 photos $780 88.34 photos per day 0.39¢ per photo
260,614 shutter releases 114.96 shutter releases per day 0.30¢ per shutter release
iPhone 5 June 23, 2013 – December 23, 2014 548 days; 1.5 years 130 photos $0
(Provided by work)
0.24 photos per day 0.00¢ per photo
149 shutter releases 0.27 shutter releases per day 0.00¢ per shutter release
iPhone 6 Plus
(Current)
January 8, 2015 – April 7, 2016 455 days; 1.25 years 2652 photos $0
(Provided by work)
5.83 photos per day 0.00¢ per photo
7218 shutter releases 15.86 shutter releases per day 0.00¢ per shutter release
Nikon D7100
(Current)
December 2, 2015 – May 8, 2016 158 days; 0.43 years 3258 photos $620 20.62 photos per day 19.03¢ per photo
5431 shutter releases 34.37 shutter releases per day 11.42¢ per shutter release

It’s worth noting that, even though the D90 has 7863 more shutter releases than the last stats, I’ve only kept 3725 of those photos (~47%), which means I’m editing down photos much more heavily than I used to. Similarly for my new D7100, where I only keep ~60% of the photos I take with it.
I also only keep ~37% of the photos I take with my work iPhone. (A lot of this is probably due to picture quality… since my photos with it tend to come out blurry, I usually spam the shutter button when I’m using it, and delete the junk later.)
For contrast, I kept more than 98% of the photos I took with my D50.
This is good, both for looking through photos later, and also for hard drive space.

No graphs for now… more graphs probably when I hit 325,000 photos.

Life is good :)