My special sleeping throne

When I arrived at my new home, I found a special sleeping spot.  Since no-one was using it, I claimed it as my own.  It is very nice.  It is just the right size to curl up in.  There is even a special-coloured walkway leading up to it.  Even though the floor is soft and warm, a cat appreciates these little touches that the staff provides.


The saga of the tiles continues

I thought it was over and done.  But then a Twitter follower casually mentioned that I should seal the grout (thanks, @magruffman).  I had no idea what that was about, since none of my reference books mentioned that at all.  It turns out that grout is actually rather porous, and to make it water-proof it requires a sealant of some sort painted over it.   So I waited a week to make sure that the grout was fully cured.  Well that and because I didn’t feel like doing it until the weekend.  So a quick trip to the hardware store (any excuse to go there is a good one) and I had picked up the appropriate goop and applicator (and some other stuff, but SWMBO doesn’t need to know about that).

Here’s all the fixings ready to go.  I must warn you that the magic goop ain’t cheap … that little bottle was $30!!!  Must be made from unicorn urine or something.  Oh, and there are no instructions on the bottle itself … you gotta hit their web site.

Applying it pretty straight-forward.  Fill the applicator bottle with the magic goop, invert the bottle, and paint it on.  See how it shines!  Two coats seemed to do the trick.

Eddie Cat loves watching me work, and insists on checking the quality of the work.

And that, hopefully, is that.  I let it set for several hours, then put a few drops of water on it to check the sealing.  The water beaded up and just sat there.  So job done, I think.


More adventures installing tiles

Today I grouted the tiles that I installed last week.  All the tiles were securely fastened, so that part went OK.  Not so many pictures this time around because once the grout goop got put down, I had to use the float to slosh it around.  I can pass on one tip for this … use BOTH hands to get sufficient pressure.

Here’s what the tiles looked like after a week, and after I took out all the spacers.

And here’s what it all looked like after the grouting was done.

All in all, I’m not displeased with the result.  It could be better, of course.  The grouted lines are rather rough, rather than smooth despite being wiped down with a grouting sponge.  Some of the tiles are a bit higher or lower than the others, but that’s because the “professionals” who installed the bathtub steps were rather sloppy.  I fixed a couple of their stupids, but overall didn’t check the flatness too closely, assuming that it was OK.

Best of all, it was a rather enjoyable task!  Well, the tiling itself was fun but the cleaning off the old tiles for re-use was rather tedious.

Job done!  Now off to my well-earned reward … nachos and scotch.




Treasures found at a used book sale

We’ve lucky to have a really good used book store in town.  A couple of times a year they have a sale, with several table heaped with cheap books and regular books priced at 20% off.  The sales items are $1 each, with paperbacks at 3 for $1.  Such a bargoon!

As the books are sold, the staff bring out more boxes to renew the piles on the tables.  For a book-a-holic like myself, that is almost torture!  As soon as I pick over all the tables, out come more books.  But there comes a point when I must be strong and force myself to leave … typically when the large cardboard box they supply is full.  I usually keep the extent of my addiction to a single boxload.  Usually.

Anyways, here’s what I picked up today.  There some treasures and some silly picks.  Hey, we can afford to pick up silly stuff when it’s only $1!

Adventures in installing tiles

The tiles on the step to our bathtub got loosened when “someone” (not me) put some noxious fluid on them and allowed it to leak.  The leaked fluid ate at the grout and rendered it into sand, with the result that a number of tiles were loosened to the point of popping out.  Some time ago, I removed about a dozen tiles and planned on fixing things Real Soon Now.  However, first I had to figure out how to fix it (I’ve never had to do anything like that before), then get the supplies, and then find time to do it.  Well, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad, right?

Anyways, today was the day to fix it.  Here’s a picture at the start of the project, with the initial tiles removed :

I started to clean out the affected area, and discovered that a few more tiles were loose and had to be removed.  So I cleaned and picked and cleaned and picked, and pretty soon the area to be repaired looked like this :

Examining the loose tiles, it looks like they came as a sheet with a mesh backing connecting them.  People experienced in such things will no doubt mock my noobness, but this is all new & fascinating to me :

I had to clean off the wood base (looks like OSB, actually), and the back of each of the tiles.  There were 46 large tiles and 14 half-tiles … that’s a lot of cleaning!  Of course the cats had to supervise.  Beaudelair and Eddie took turns wandering in.  In the course of one of his prowls, Eddie came in and decided lay down on the pile of refuse!

The tool shown in the front was invaluable in cleaning the wood, the tiles, as well as slathering on the grout.  It’s actually a “painter’s tool” that I got from Sears.

After cleaning everything up I decided to do a test fitting of the tiles, using the spacers.  Always do a test fitting when you’re not sure of what you’re doing!  I found that the spacers (standard 1/8-inch ones) were just a bit larger than the original spacings, so I had to replace a couple of them with the 1/16-inch ones.  I picked up both sizes because I had no idea what was required, and a bag of each is pretty cheap.

I also discovered that I was using the spacers incorrectly … a fact I would have found out if I’d bothered to read the instructions on the package.  Sigh.

OK, so on to applying the grout/cement (this particular product does double-duty)!  I’ve seen this before on DIY shows and it always looked so easy.  Well, yeah, if you’re applying it to a bare surface.  Working around existing tiles for a repair job makes things a little more interesting!  So I decided to set up about 1/3 the surface to see how things went.  Not too hard, actually, but a bit fiddly where the edges meet existing tiles :

Putting in the tiles wasn’t very hard at all.  A rather enjoyable process, actually.

Then I put on some more grout/cement and put in the rest of the tiles.  Adding the vertical tiles had a few moments of interest because at this point gravity is NOT your friend.  But it wasn’t too difficult.

So now I have to wait 24-36 hours for the grout/cement to dry, and then I do the grouting. That is, filling in the spaces between the tiles.  I’m actually looking forward to trying that!  The whole process took about 3-1/2 hours.  All in all, a pleasant afternoon project.  The only hard part was squatting on the floor for that time … my aged knees grumbled at me for sitting cross-legged for so long.

I’ll let you know how the grouting goes.


Helping the staff to work hard!

I do so much work around here!  The he-staff was digging and hitting at the ground for a long time.  Sometimes he hit the ground with a stick, and sometimes he pulled stuff up, and sometimes he wandered around with handfuls of green stuff.  The ground changed colour after he hit it.  First it was green, then it changed to brown.  How strange.  So much work just to change colour of the ground.  But I supervised him the whole time, because that’s what a helpful cat does.  Then he came inside the house and wandered around carrying round things from the basement, up the stairs, and then behind the Locked Door That Is Forbidden To Enter.  Up and down, up and down, and the whole time I watched and supervised.  The he-staff made funny puffy sounds and his face turned funny colours.  After that he just collapsed on the rug and made loud puffy sounds for a long time.  And he was all wet and smelly.  But I lay beside him, because he is my staff and a good cat praises their staff when they work hard.  And it was a very hard day’s work watching him that entire time.  A cat’s work is never done.

Old manuals bring back fond memories.

I was poking around the in the unused corners of my basement kingdom (SWMBO rarely lets me play upstairs), and I came across some old manuals.  Damn, but they brought back some happy memories!  Maybe they’ll do the same for you.

This is the manual for the 4004 microprocessor.  Hard to believe that microprocessors haven’t been around forever, but it was in 1973 when the very first one came out.   I can remember receiving this and poring through it.

The 4004 begat the 8008, the first 8-bit microprocessor.  This is the one that truly launched the microcomputer revolution.

Once the 8008 came out, pretty quickly came the designs for microcomputers based on them.  I actually built something similar to this.  The 8008 was a beast of chip to use, requiring 3 voltages (+5, +12, -12), and had a single 8-bit bus that was used for everything from memory to i/o.

I built systems based on several different microprocessors, and then came the era of the single-board computers.  And they cost less than building it from scratch!  Here’s the manual one that I bought (and still have kicking around somewhere), based on the 6502 chip.  It was pretty famous, in it’s day (the late 70’s).

Then came the era of the 8080 chip, and this was powerful enough to merit its own real operating system.  CP/M filled this void, and it was the first widely-used o/s.  It wasn’t plug-and-play, of course … you still had to customize it to your own system.  In assembly language, of course.   Keep in mind that nothing was standardized in those days!  Interesting times, and it all seemed like magic.

After CP/M and the 8080 era came the IBM PC and MS-DOS (which was based in large part on CP/M).  And this ushered in the era of wide-spread software development.  One of the “big things” to emerge was Borland and their series of “turbo” languages.  The first of these was Turbo Pascal.  Pascal, you see, was going to take over and become the One True Language … all the pundits and academics said so.  Heck, even the Intel 8088 chip used in the IBM PC’s (from which sprang the 80286, then 80386, then Pentium, and so forth) were designed to optimize running Pascal!  The Borland Pascal was unique in that it offered a full IDE (integrated development environment), and really fast compile times.  Both of those were unheard of in those days, but are ubiquitous now.

And now for something completely different.  Hard core techie porn … the fabled GE Transistor Manual.  This is the 7th edition from 1964 that I bought as a teenager.  Note the $2 price!  It was 658 pages of theory and specifications and practical applications.  Most of it was above my head as a teen, but was invaluable in college where the theory section actually helped me.

Sometimes life is just duckie!

I came back from getting groceries and noticed a mallard duck standing in the middle of the road.  Don’t know why, but he seemed quite serene and confident.

I walked towards him to get a better picture and he started for the side of the road.

I managed to get within a couple of meters of him before he got too upset.  Lovely looking duck!


Twists and turns on the blog.

Greetings, prisoners of the Intertubes.  I’ve added some new content, and changed things around a bit.

First of all, I’ve added some contributors … the cats demanded that their voices be heard.

Secondly, I’ve added a bit of content for the cats.  But rather than putting it into their pages (which are in WordPress are meant for fixed content), I decided to post it.  Also, I decided to date the posts based on when the events actually happened.

What does this mean for you, the reader?  Well, hopefully some interesting reading.  But it also means that you need to use the search feature to find the posts on the topic of interest.  Just like you’d be doing if this site had more posted content than it actually does.

I’d appreciate feedback on how you find the changes.