Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Sword of Shannara (final update)

Made it through to the end without scratching my eyeballls out.  One last comment.

Elven warriors are possibly the most useless species in the four lands, if not on the planet.  Not once did I see an Elven warrior do anything intelligent or win a fight on any terms.  Mostly it was "run forward waving sword and get killed" or "throw down weapon and get killed" or even just "stand there on guard and get killed".  They aren't capable of closing doors if an enemy force is rushing towards them, and when they are assigned to stand guard in one case, they stand with their backs to the door they are guarding, allowing the enemy to open the door behind them and, you guessed it, kill them.

Oh, and they have stupid looking helmets that keep you from every seeing their faces so in complete violation of the Evil Overlord List so if I were trying to infiltrate the Elven kingdom I'd totally get me one of those uniforms.  Which would be easy because they are so useless.

In fact they are so useless that I can't even find a picture on the interweb to show you.

I believe this is based on the book "Elfstones of Shannara" rather than the original "Sword of Shannara" although it's been a long time since I read either.  SoS is almost unreadable it is so poorly written so I'll probably go back and try to reread EoS just to check.  Terry Brooks progressed wildly as an author after that first one.

Oh, and spoiler alert...

... the new bad guy shows that he is the new bad guy a dozen times and everyone is so oblivious that they just let him walk out, cue sequel.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Hiking. Finally

Been saying I was going to get back into this for a long time, but other than Colorado last year it hasn't happened.  Til yesterday.  Horseshoe Bend, up towards Mt Baker.  Recommended by a friend.

I felt a bit overpacked but this is my usual day hike load.  Sweatshirt, hat, knife, paracord, emergency blanket, sunscreen, flashlight, matches, windbreaker/rain jacket, journal, pen, 1911 magazine, beef jerky, almonds, energy bar, shake.  The pack holds 2.5l water in addition to all this stuff.  To many stories about people who went out completely unprepared for a "day hike" and died because they weren't ready to spend the night when something went wrong.

Turns out that if you go until the trail just peters out it's about four miles there and back.  Not super challenging but some good climbs as the trail climbs up and down next to the river.  Nice hike.  Looking forward to the next one.  Sooner.

Not sure that I have the hang of the selfie thing yet, but they are definitely getting better.

Easy applesauce

Start with two of these:

Pick a bucket about this sized of these:

Cut them into quarters and put about half of them in here, seeds, skins, stems, and all:

Cook them until they are sort of mushy and run them through this:

That will give you about this much of this, to which you can add about two cups of sugar:

Stir in the sugar, bring it to a boil, add to hot jars, cap and boil for 20 minutes in water bath.  Do this twice and that gives you this (in green jars, not pea soup colored applesauce):

Optionally, it takes about two of these:

Who thought this headline was a good idea?

HT Patriot Post from this morning

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Cowboy Up

Seems to me that if you get invited to a Western Themed birthday party (for a 65 year old) you go Western Themed.  So I did.

And yeah, they're real Ruger Vaquero 45 Long Colt pistols because Western Themed party.

Oh, everyone else?  Shorts and t-shirts plus horse shaped cookies, Western Themed cupcakes, BBQ pork and beans, and a Wanted poster.  Some people just don't know how to throw a party.

This Old Garage (Phase 2)

Phase 1

Jacking up the garage.  Not quite as complicated as I thought, plus didn't use all the jacks, so the two 48"ers go back to their respective stores and I saved myself $145 on the project.  Instead of jacking up all eight jacks, one click at a time, we jacked up one corner, braced it, then jacked up the quarter point of the wall until it was level, braced it, and worked our way down the garage.  When we were done we hit the other side.  Since we were bracing as we went, the jacks were just taken out of their spots and re-used.

Important safety tip: Don't cross the streams!

Oh wait, that's a different project.  Brace your supports.  As you can see here each support beam is screwed to the wall and the previous beam.  No wiggle room here.  The garage is also braced on the outside with angled 2x4s.

Notice the trenching.  (The garage was actually about a foot underground along this side as the city has been grading the alley for who knows how many years and every time they push more dirt onto my property. One reason for the extensive rot).

Next step, cut off the rot.  We work our way around with a Sawzall cutting off the bottom foot and a half or so.

Form and concrete.  I did a bit of digging (on the internet this time) and discovered Concrete Bonding Adhesive. Designed to create a better seal between old and new concrete.  Quikrete makes a version that does the same thing but this is the one that Home Depot carries.  You are supposed to paint a layer but we were in a hurry so I just dumped it into the bottom of the form and sloshed it around with a paint brush.  We also drilled holes and epoxied in small lengths of rebar, added rebar all the way around tied to the rebar posts, and inserted J-bolts for attaching the sill.  Things got a little hectic when the concrete guy arrived on schedule and we weren't actually close to being ready for concrete.

So no pictures of that.

And ... concrete.

And leftover concrete so I poured a retaining wall foundation.  My plan is to build a retaining wall to separate the alley (on the left) from my drainage.  I'm going to trench this and add drainpipe, then cover it with drainrock and not cover the rock with anything.  The wall will stick up high enough that I can backfill to alley level.  If they grade into my drainage next time they come through (every ten years or so) they can fix anything they damage since it will be obvious what they did.

So now we are waiting for the concrete to set so that we can lower the garage.  We will sister 2x4s to each stringer inside to replace the cut out section, add a wall sill and lower it onto a pressure treated sill.  Stay tuned for Phase 3, hopefully this weekend.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Sword of Shannara (update)

Terry Brooks' Sword of Shannara, as well as the entire Shannara  mythopoeia spanning twenty eight volumes, was high fantasy.  As such, none of the characters ever uttered either of the phrases:

  • "she doesn't want a rover's sloppy seconds" (Eretria referring to her sexual relation with Wil)
  • "not just the boys" (Eretria as she hits on Amberle, Elven princess)
Additionally, Cephelo attempts to rape Amberle (and apparently raped Eretria for years although that it not completely clear) and yet they work with him extensively.

Even most annoyingly, the Four Lands (the setting of the Shannara books) is littered with old pieces of modern civilization including swingsets and toxic waste dumps.  Although it has been some  years since I read the original books (Sword of, Elfstones of, and Wishsong of) I have no recollection of any remnants of modernity in any of the books.

Wil continues to be a total douche, the acting is sub par, there orcs wear welding goggles for some reason, but ...

I am still watching. Through episode 7.  Maybe it's because I am a huge Shannara fan, loved all most of the books, and want to see if, somehow, it gets better.