I was closing on the house.

Quick rundown of life in general: The vandalism happened, the fight did not, and someone figured out I was out of communication and sent some e-mail announcing my death from my comcrap account. SMTP is easy enough to fake, but if you got mail from me announcing that I was dead – they use DVORAK keyboards in hell.


Halfway there. Meet baby Alex.

Painting the Doors

The FHA is lulzy as hell. They made a “thorough inspection” and said that we had to fix the garage doors because the paint was peeling. Nevermind the garage door on the one side is cracked and needs to be replaced, but they noticed the peeling paint.

The Home Depot stripper works pretty well. The problem, as we found out, is that the Home Depot stripped only seems to work well on paint which has primer under it. If there’s no primer under the paint, you have to use more of it. A lot of it. Actually I’m glad we got it in gel format because we ended up slathering it on. We also found out it’s so caustic it melted the plastic rollers and brushes we used. PLUS IT BURNS LIKE THE FIRES OF HELL ON YOUR SKIN.

The first door I figured would take about two hours start to finish. The stripper is supposed to work in 15 minutes. Or it would have had it not completely welded the brush bristles together. Fine, we can just slap it on. 15 minutes later we’re trying to take it off with a wire hand brush and we’re not making great progress. I broke out the wheel brush and the drill and the first few panels came off fine. The stripper, however, was refusing to work on the bottom two panels. We tried more of it.

15 minutes later – the paint is coming up, but nowhere near as well as we expected. As my brother and I worked the drill, it finally occurred to me that the problem was the paint didn’t have primer under it. The paint was soaked into the wood. Our brush was quickly dulling and getting choked in chemicals as it peeled off the paint, stripper and wood pulp melange. By the time we got to the bottom panel on the door, we were gouging out just as much paint as wood.

Once we had gotten to the bottom of the first door, I took out the thick wire brush and went over the whole thing. Some of the paint came up, most of the stubborn stuff didn’t. Again, the crap coming off the door was paint heavily bonded to wood. Lose-lose every way and my brother had to be at work. We decided to paint.

The primer we used was matte white water based (“aquacryllic”) primer. Thankfully it went on easy, and covered well. While disappointing that it continued to lift the paint up, this is no biggy. It’s just thick enough to fill in all the dimples without being hard to work, and loose enough to roll easily. I am generally impressed with the product.

My brother had to go so we cleaned up the mess and went to my folks place. Thankfully my father understood this needed to be done like yesterday and volunteered to help. At this point my wrist was ready to fall off from steadying the drill on the uneven surface. We drove back. Dad is apparently a man’s-man, he opted not to use chemical stripper and went directly for the aggressive wire brush. Between him using the wire wheel to clean most of the door and me working the hand brush to  knock the rest of it off, he did the bottom panel on the other door and I cleaned up after. We started to do the next panel up and realized once again there was no primer – but this time over the entire door.

The chemicals – THEY DO NOTHING.

At this point it was getting late and we discovered a crack in the second door, and I decided to write off the doors since they are $75ish a pop at Home Depot when they’re on sale for generic aluminum doors. The primer, amazingly enough, will not lift up paint with no other primer under it. The obvious argument here is that primer is soluble in primer, which is why the paint on the other door lifted a bit when we primed over it. Here’s hoping the primer sticks to the paint until the FHA comes by to inspect it.

Politics From the Bayside and Whale Wars

I really like the band RISE AGAINST. However, I hate their support of PETA, and since they’ve enjoined their music, and their profits to PETA, I’m glad I have the ability to not pay for their music via the magic of the internet while still enjoying it.

PROTIP to punk bands out there – also METALLICA – don’t make political statements and then cry foul when people download your music instead of supporting your politics with your money. LOL, CAPITOLISMS!

Speaking of PETA, I at least respect the guy on WHALE WARS. First time he runs across a Russian whaling ship though, expect him to catch an RPG with his face. The fact that he only attacks the Japanese speaks volumes. The worst part about it is he’s taking food off the Japs plates. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sympathetic to responsible management of wildlife, but they fail it quite badly. It’s not like you go to Black Market McDonalds over in Japland and buy a whale burger. This is a land where fishing is like farming to Americans, and the Sea Sheppards really are taking food off the plates of the Japanese.

Now, I do believe they have a point where they accuse the Japanese of writing “RESEARCH” on the side of their boats instead of WHALING. However, I take this as the Japanese meme of avoiding confrontation. On that note, the captain getting shot isn’t nearly as likely as one of their “stink grenades” going off and tagging him. The fact that he’s like “OH MAH BADGE SAVED ME” just lends credence to the idea.

Furthermore the show isn’t forthright with what munitions the Steve Irwin has on board. The crew has tried to create RPGs on their own (photo gallery of expended munitions) and failed. Which is more likely: The Japanese, who are forbidden from owning firearms, shot the captain and somehow missed, or the crew of the Steve Irwin, which is a revolving door of idiots, screwed up an improvised rocket?

More on the point – which is an inappropriate show of force? The Japanese use a “sound gun” against the Steve Irwin (also embarrassing Engrish) or the Steve Irwin uses rockets and hazardous material (acid) against the Japs?

So the next bit to consider is why doesn’t the program show the whales being processed? Why doesn’t it show the rockets? The program wants to perpetuate this myth that somehow “stink bombs” are going to foul up Japanese whaling. (I would speculate if this worked, there would be footage of the Japs dumping the fouled whale meat into the sea). However, you never see the rockets, nor do you ever see whales being processed. Why? Because whales are processed below deck. While it might be unpleasant to work on a whale that stinks, any episode of Dirty Jobs is going to convince you that all dead animals stink, and there’s not much more to be done about it. Since the skin of a whale is pressure cooked to get the oil out, it’s probably thoroughly washed in seawater. A stink bomb might slow them down, but it doesn’t really hurt the Japanese. Hence the rockets.

If you wanted to make the environmental protection argument, ask the crew of the Steve Irwin why they blew the engines (and all the fuel, and all the oil and killed a sailor) into the ocean back in 1997 when they attacked the Nisshin Maru.

New Orleans: Pirate Capitol

I was told a story from someone who was there that after Hurricane Katrina, your three best friends were a bottle of bleach, a hammer and your rifle. The bleach cleaned up the water, the hammer would rebuild the buildings, and the rifle was because stray animals and looters were a dime a dozen. Of course the suburban areas and the touristy places were kept secure as usual, but these weren’t the places which generally had problems. My buddy happened to get there just after the national guard left. In typical Iraq and Somalia fashion, the army leaves and all hell breaks loose because the police are either absent or unprepared for taking it over. He happened to be just outside of the French Quarter (in a “recovery area” that didn’t see tourists). When he came back, he had build five homes, a school and a church, which was all they could do without calling in the hazmat guys to clean up the next area.

During the build, he described days as friendly but lonely. However, nights he said were the wild west. People who had either avoided the round up or weren’t interested in being productive members of society would come by and steal supplies. He says they shot at 10 people, they’re not sure how many they connected with.

So what, exactly, brought the rant on?

Louisiana is billing itself as under a “cyber katrina” and wants a $0.15 surcharge for internet access to create “safe harbors”. Why is this stupid? The internet is like New Orleans during the recovery. You are responsible for keeping yourself and your family safe. And like post Katrina Louisiana, there’s no cops. And like post Katrina Louisiana politics, there’s really nothing the state government can do. Once again, you’re paying taxes for a false sense of security.

Do yourself a favor. For ever hour you’re on the internet, put $0.15 in a jar. When you have $600 saved up, buy an AR15.

Coraline Soundtrack

I’ve been listening to the Coraline soundtrack. If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s well worth it. Skip the 3D one, it ends up getting in the way of the plot.

The soundtrack, however, compliments the plot beautifully. Like “the other puppet movie” (The Nightmare Before Christmas), the music is well integrated. How does it stand on it’s own? Actually quite well. For one, most of the lyrics are anamanapia (which is Latin for “sounds nice, man”). The second thing which grabs you is the range and depth of the tone. The keys are well chosen, as are the instruments for texture and color. Clean instruments make up the “happy” or “whimsical” parts, while the instruments tend towards rough percussion for the less happy songs. They’re all well played, and played by hand. Expect to hear the fingers on the harp. There’s watercups thrown in there too.

The third bit of niceness is that while parts are often quoted between songs, the songs change key and use a broad, broad range. Expect to hear an obo playing at the top end of it’s range, and flutes playing at the bottom. Since woodwinds have a tendency for intubulation distortion, literally the shape of each instrument works against the instrument at the edges of it’s range, these are extremely well chosen.

Oh, the songs are nice too.