Friday, November 03, 2006

This is harder than I thought

I'm starting to realize that coming up with something meaningful to say every day (or two or three) is tough. Of course, you could look at my past posts and say, "When are you going to come up with something meaningful, period!" Well, it's Friday, November 3 and the builder MAY be getting the final inspection of our new house today. That would mean we MIGHT be able to start moving our stuff in this week-end. Now, that's meaningful. If we do start moving in this week-end, I'll post a message and a picture. Maybe I'll even bring out another one of those analogies between designing electronics and/or software and designing a house. Especially since our house is a modular house and is actually manufactured - similar to electronic hardware - which is similar to programming with software components.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Pizza on a research vessel

I spent many years working for the US Geological Survey in the Marine Geology group and we spent a lot of time at sea on research vessels. For a few years, we were using a British ship, the RV Starella, in the Caribbean Sea and off the west coast of Africa. My father was Welsh and my mother's family had a lot of Welsh blood, too, so I was used to British style food but many of the scientists had a hard time getting used to some of the stuff so the ship's cook decided to try to make some things we were used to. He tried his had at making donuts but they came out more like donut-shaped bread. Then he tried his hand at pizza.

He didn't have the right sauce so he used ketchup. He didn't have the right cheese so he used cheddar cheese. The crust was more like bread (again). Then he got to the toppings. No mushrooms, pepperoni or green peppers. He had peas and carrots. What could we say? He'd tried his best. We ate it without complaining.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

"Look before you leap" or "He who hesitates is lost"?

I guess we all know we can't run our lives by proverbs. But they can offer good advice. But what do you do when they conflict? The two proverbs in the title are just two of the ones you hear all the time and, I find, mentioned after you've just made a mistake. You jump into the car to rush to the store and back over a child's favorite toy. "You know what they say," your neighbor explains, "Look before you leap." But surely, if I would have looked, removed the toy and then had to wait at the end of the driveway as a line of cars passes, the neighbor would have said, "You know what they say. He who hesitates is lost." Rarely is anyone there to help when you really need it.

But then you hear about the "morality" test where they ask if you were walking along the railroad tracks and you see five people up ahead in an area where the track is bounded by two steep cliffs and there is no way to get off the tracks. Then you hear a train coming. You are standing by a switch that would allow the train to be switched off the track onto a siding where one person is walking. Is it OK to kill that one person to save the five? Well, according to the test folks, most people say it's OK to switch the train and trade one life for five. But take a moment and think about all the gray areas of this question. How are you sure that the five people couldn't lie down next to the track? Trains and their cars don't hang over that much. Maybe the one person can get off the siding. What happens when the train goes into the siding and wrecks. Who will be killed on the train and in the siding area? These kinds of made-up situations drive me crazy. It seems to me that we rarely have all the facts and these "tests" just hide even more of them.

I remember an old movie about guys being inducted into the Navy during World War 2 (it was an old movie). The officer asks the inductee what he would do if a storm came up from the starboard side. The inductee answers, "Throw an anchor off the starboard side, sir." Then the officer says, "But then a storm blows up and hits you from the stern. What do you do?" The inductee answers, " Throw an anchor off the stern, sir." The officer isn't beat and says, "Now an even more intense storm blows up and starts hitting your port side. What do you do?" The inductee says, "Well, I'd throw an anchor off the port side, sir." The officer gets angry and says, "And where are you going to get all these anchors?" The inductee shrugs and says, "The same place you got all those storms blowing in different directions, sir."


This is not about the real-time operating systems or traveling on the train, bus or airplane. It's about the problem you face when trying to come up with a reasonable schedule for a project and specifically for the case when you want to do the project and the company is not enthusiastic about the project.

So, there you are - you are asked, "How long will it take you to do this project?" Of course it's impossible to give an exact answer. Also, you cannot be absolutely impartial. You are faced with a true dilemma. If you give a schedule that is too fast, you risk being late on the project. If you give a schedule that is too slow, you risk that this will be used as an excuse to not do the project or that they get someone else to do it.

The answer is to be as honest and impartial as you can. Using the length of the schedule to decide whether a project should be done should not be your concern (and it's a pretty stupid move on the part of your company if that is their criteria for doing the project or not). Besides the schedule itself, you should be able to offer innovative options. You should be able to show your excitement for the project. You should take the time to develop a well thought out schedule which includes as many ways around sticking points as possible. The schedule should include as large a collection of milestone events as possible.

Perhaps in a future message I'll be able to go into more specific examples.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Great Expectations

Complaints about software quality are easy to find and easy to make. That's because of two things:

1) Many software systems are very complex systems and don't work perfectly
2) We have too high of an expectation on software

Maybe I'll talk about the first reason sometime but people a lot smarter than me have written books, programming languages and design methodologies to try to handle that. The first item can be further broken down but I won't go into that here.

The second reason is that we often expect too much from software systems. Here is an example - you have a cold and need a tissue to wipe your nose. You walk over to the tissue box (one of those pop-up boxes that delivers the next tissue when you pull the current tissue our) and there is no tissue ready to use. You have to dig down and pull up the tissue. In the process, you mess up the next tissue. You can either fiddle around and get the next tissue ready or just leave it so the next person faces the same problem you just faced. There are a combination of "bugs" here and some failed human actions. You might say, "Well, a box of tissues doesn't cost that much and your expectations aren't high for it. Well, hold on to that word "expectations".

So, let's look at something higher priced if that will satisfy you. You get into your car and try to start it. The starter grinds a bit and you release the key but the engine doesn't start. You try it again and this time it starts (of course, if you are in a horror movie the monster is bearing down on you, the car will not start until the monster touches the car!). This was a "bug", too, but we don't call it that. Here, the item is expensive (unlike the box of tissues) but you just don't write a nasty letter to the maker of you car when it fails to start. Your expectation is that once in a while a car just doesn't start the first time you try it. If you remote doesn't change the channel when you hit the button, you just hit it again. If a friend says they will call right back and then they don't, you figure something must have come up or they would have called back. Each time, it is the expectation that allows you to just shrug your shoulders and say, "Oh, well, nothing is perfect." I think we just expect too much of many software systems.

Some people would say that my argument is not fair and just incorrect. They would say that you can't prove that something is OK by saying other things are just as bad. That's OK. Let them start their own blogs and write what they want. This is my blog and these are my ideas.

If someone says I'm a poor athlete because I can't jump (unaided) over a twelve foot fence isn't the best answer that no one can jump over a twelve foot fence? I've used the "limitations" of others as the answer to my "inability". It all depends on your expectations.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Still remembering October, 2004

If you are a Red Sox fan, as I am, this time of year brings back the memory of the World Series win in 2004. What made it special, though, was having to beat the Yankees in the play-offs to get there. Coming back after being down three games to none made it magical and the World Series sweep of the Cardinals almost anticlimactic. When I think back on the American League Championship Series, I remember trying to stay up until the end of Game 7. The Red Sox were well ahead and I was exhausted from the previous nights. So, I went to bed not really being sure if the Red Sox had won or not. A friend wrote me the next morning saying I must be really happy because the Red Sox had won. By then I knew they had won but earlier that morning, I was still trying to find out for sure. Here is the note I wrote back to him explaining how my morning had gone:

I wasn't able to stay up until the end of the game last night but went to sleep when the Sox were ahead 8 - 1. Surely they couldn't collapse that badly. Woke up early this morning to hear how the game ended but [our 2-year old daughter at the time] heard me getting up and wanted to come downstairs with me. She needed something to eat so I thought I'd just give her some formula quickly. No open cans so I had to search for a can. Then I couldn't find the opener for the can. As I'm looking for the opener, I keep slipping on something on the floor. I wipe that up and keep looking for something to open the can of formula.

In the meantime, I put some water on the stove to make tea. Still no can opener. I keep slipping on something on the floor. I wipe up more of what looks like cooking oil. Finally, I figure I'll never find the can opener (and [our daughter] has started yelling for something, anything, to eat) so I try to use the electric can opener but the can is too tall. Finally, I'm able to move the electric can opener over to the side of the counter (after moving a ton of dishes out of the way) so I can fit the can of formula under it.

I'm STILL slipping on something on the kitchen floor and then I notice it's coming from the refrigerator. I open up the refrigerator but see nothing obvious so I go back to opening up the can of formula ([our daughter] is about to tear down the house if she doesn't get something quick). I give her the formula and go back to the refrigerator to find out that some salad dressing has flipped on its side in the refrigerator. It wouldn't have mattered but the cap hadn't been put on tightly so it went all over the place. Then the tea water starts to whistle on the stove.

I run to get the teapot but it's soaking in some dirty dishwater so I use an old teapot with a cracked spout, throw some tea bags in and pour in the water. Then it's back to clean up the refrigerator. I'm finally getting the spill cleaned up (along with a bunch of other things that got dressing all over them) and I hear the dog whining who needs to go out. I get back from that and I can hold off going to the bathroom no longer. I FINALLY get back to the living room about half an hour after I first woke up and turn on the TV to find that the Sox did indeed win the game last night but the station breaks for a million commercials before I finally got the final score!

It was all OK in the end but the suspense almost killed me. But, there were actually some Red Sox fans who waited 86 years to see their team win the World Series again so I guess it wasn't so bad if I had to wait a half-hour to get the results of a play-off.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Living with cats

Here are our two cats doing what they are best at doing. The fluffy ball of blue-gray fur on the left is our older cat Rosie and the short haired black and white one on the right is Henry. Rosie is over twelve years old and is in charge of the entire house. Her jobs are to eat, sleep, hide when anyone comes to visit and use the litter box at the worst possible time. We already had a female cat (who has since died at the age of seventeen) when we went to get Rosie and were thinking of getting a male cat to keep Elsie company. But Rosie had been rejected by her mother and seemed to be terrorized by her brother and hid behind my wife to get away from him. So how could we resist? She is a Persian but doesn't have the squished up face that most Persians do. She's very nice but, after all these years, is still a little afraid of us. She reminds me of a lot of people who had traumatic events in their life and never seem able to recover from them. We all have different handicaps in life and that is Rosie's little handicap.

Henry, our younger cat, is in charge of attacking us when we least expect it and keeping us up at night by chasing after imaginary beasts and making little half-grunt and half-purr sounds. We got him from a cat shelter and picked him because he reminded us of our old cat Elsie who was also black and white. Elsie acted more like a dog (she liked to lick us and used to come out and observe any company we'd get - she'd even sit and watch the repairmen that came to fix things). When my wife reached in to pet Henry in his cage, he licked her hand. That was it. We had to have him. He keeps Rosie active and entertains us all. Henry's little handicap is that he can't seem to purr anymore. He purred up a storm when he was younger (he will be three soon) but gradually lost the ability to purr. You can hear him trying to purr but nothing comes out.

Both cats are fascinated with our dog, Charlie, but they haven't seen him since we've been temporarily living in my mother-in-law's house because she doesn't want the dog in the house nor the cats upstairs. So, we'll be having a big animal reunion when we move into the new house.

This has been a pretty boring post to anyone who isn't in our family. But you need to know these things for later posts to make sense.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Update to an earlier post and hazardous waste

I didn't make two post on Sunday as I'd planned. I'd hoped to make some comments about a review I read about Richard Dawkins latest book but doing a review of a review didn't seem like a good idea when I sat down to do it. Maybe I'll read the book and then I can do my own review. Or maybe I should finish the earlier Richard Dawkins book I have a review that!

Anyway, I wanted to make a note about my "Is it a rule of the universe that there's always a downside?" entry. Well, once again I jumped the gun - I panicked - I didn't look before I leapt. After talking some more with the builders, we found that they did not really need the washer and dryer to be dug out of storage and installed right away. So, we had time this week-end to get rid of all the hazardous waste we removed from our old house and its garage by taking it to a town-sponsored hazardous waste collection site. My son and I loaded up the truck and took it and it turned out to be a somewhat pleasant experience. We always have a good talk when it's just the two of us. And I got lost so we had that to talk about, too. Then, when we got there, there was a huge line and a long (about a half hour) wait so we talked some more. When we finally got to the front of the line, they made it very easy for us. I was sure we were going to be questioned about each item and would be scolded for trying to bring some of the stuff to them. But it wasn't like that at all. They actually seemed glad to see us and were very helpful. We didn't have to do a thing. The only thing we had brought that they couldn't take were some small cylinders of propane that are used in small plumbers torches. Those we'll have to get rid of somehow else. But that was it. Once we got to the front of the line, we were done in about five minutes with a pleasant send-off and a smile as we pulled away. And now we don't have all that dangerous stuff sitting around.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

This American Life

I missed posting this yesterday. I couldn't access Blogger because I think it was closed for maintenance. Anyway, I'll try to post two entries today.

I wanted to enter a note about the "This American Life" show on National Public Radio (via Public Radio International and produced by Chicago Public Radio). I've enjoyed this show over the years and it doesn't show any signs of letting down. National Public Radio itself is such a relief when you look at the rest of radio. Most of radio is just the same songs repeated over and over or a bunch of angry idiots screaming at each other about politics or sports. But today I'm talking about "This American Life" and its host Ira Glass. Each week he gives a short introduction to the show. I can't say enough about even this small part of the show. He (or the writers) give a short, tantalizing statement about what you'll be hearing on the show. It draws you in and makes it sound so interesting that I can rarely turn away - even if I have something else to do.

The stories have real variety. You're never quite sure if you'll be hearing a professionally prepared story or something prepared by some kids. Or something created as a joke. Two of my favorites were the recently replayed story about the phone message from a college student's mother (referencing "The Little Mermaid") and a story about a new policeman who goes to a house to investigate noises in the attic and finds more trouble than he expected. But they are all little gems of stories. Usually, they only take up a small part of the hour-long show but can take up most of the show if the story warrants it. If you've never heard the show, you should give it try. You can go to the website to find if it plays on your local public radio station and when. I've listed the website in the list of links but here it is again:

You can listen to old shows there, too. Back to 1995. The only thing I can fault about it is that I wish there was a better index to the shows. If you're looking for a specific story, you have to remember the theme of the show (most of the hour-long shows have a theme) and then you can read the description of the show to see if your specific story is there. Give it a try. I think you'll enjoy it. If you haven't listened before, you might want to try their Staff Favorites first:

If you want to check for you local station and the times "This American Life" plays, go here:

I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Friday, October 20, 2006

One week of blogging

To me, the most important part of blogging is trying to do it every day. Or at least to do it as often as possible. Well, I've managed to do seven entries in seven days but I cheated on Sunday (of all days!). I missed the Sunday entry and did two on Monday. Well, guess what? The earth kept spinning, my wife and kids still love me and the Hawaiian earthquake that day didn't cause as much damage as it could have. OK, I'll try not to miss a day again.

Today's entry is short and probably could have been skipped but I wanted to update two previous posts:

Monday, October 16, "Where's the 'Engineering' part?"
The paper towel holder modification I did is still there and working. And today, I noticed another holder of the same design in another part of the cafeteria that was showing the same problem. So, I made the same fix to that one. I've just gone into production. Now all I have to do is come up with a catchy jingle, some overly complex packaging and a confusing manual and I've got a product to sell. "Paper towel holder fixer - apply directly to the paper towel holder."

Thursday, October 19, "When co-workers leave, panic!"
I was wrong, our company is going to do a job search as soon as possible. It won't happen overnight and, really, you wouldn't want that. You want somebody new who is not just a talented engineer but who also "plays well with others". The guy we're losing is going to be very hard to replace. He is both a very good engineer and a very good person to work with. He is also a fine human being. It would be wrong to jump into the job search too quickly and take the first person that shows up.

I hope my entry tomorrow is more interesting.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

When co-workers leave - panic!

One of our engineers is leaving for another job soon. He has been an important part of a number of projects here and the rest of us will have to pick up some of his duties until someone else is hired to fill the position (if someone ever is hired to fill the position). The reason I'm writing about this is the lack of panic I see about his leaving. They say you're not supposed to panic about things because that keeps you from performing at your best. Panic is supposed to keep you from analyzing the situation and reacting appropriately. That may be true but I think there are situations when a little panic is good. It gets you moving and it shows others you are concerned about the situation. If you don't panic in certain situations, it is my opinion that you don't care about it very much.

What do you do when your dog gets away from you and heads toward the road where a truck is approaching going too fast? You panic - you shout - you wave your arms - you try to get the dog's attention and the truck driver's attention. You have to move fast and make a lot of noise and panic does this for you.

To get back to my co-worker's leaving: I'm not sure what the folks who run our company think - Do they think that each of us is not working all the time we're here? Do they think that we're looking for more things to do? Do they really believe the four other people in our group each have two hours a day free to devote to picking up the slack? I guess they do. The fellow who is leaving gave them two weeks notice and they said, "Oh, just give us a week." While that's very nice of them, it gives the rest of us half the time to pick up what we need to know about these new projects we're going to be working on. Luckily for us, he was a very organized guy and worked very openly with us. We all coordinated our work thanks to our supervisor keeping our shop a fun, open place. So, it's not as bad as it could have been. But the people making the one-week decision had no clue about that.

I'd like to see a little more panic from the higher-ups. They should be rushing to start a job search. They should be meeting with us to ask which of our current projects are going to be delayed because of this. They should be offering to get temporary help to help us get through this. They want to make it look like things like this will not affect the company. They want to make it look like nothing you can throw at them will cause them to panic. Instead, they need to be running, waving their arms and trying to get someone's attention.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Is it a rule of the universe that there's always a downside?

I've mentioned that we're waiting for our new house to be completed. Originally, we were hoping to be in by Christmas this year. Then, the builders moved the date up to early December (the weather had been good and they were not having trouble getting plumbers and electricians to show up). Then they moved it up two more weeks - we were going to be in before Thanksgiving! Now, work is going so fast and so well, we should be in the house by the first of November. These folks are great. What's the downside?

They need all the appliances so they can be installed, plumbed, hooked up, whatever. Everything is ready except that our washer and dryer are buried in storage. In the back of a 10 ft by 20 ft room. So, somehow, we've got to dig through all our furniture, pull some of it (most of it?) out and pull out the washer and dryer and put the other stuff back. Then we get to do it all again in a couple of weeks.

But how can I complain? We're going to be moving into a fantastic, new house and we'll be eating Thanksgiving dinner in our fantastic, new dining room. It only seems fair that there should be some problems to overcome or we'd just be too happy.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

On Music

My wife and I are amateur musicians. I play the piano and sing a little and my wife plays the guitar and piano. We'd like our children to play instruments, too, but we don't want to push them. They both seem interested in music but don't have any interest in practicing so we're mostly just playing around with music for now.

We are thinking of getting our 10-year old an electronic keyboard of his own (we have pianos, guitars and other electronic keyboards around). I saw a nice keyboard with tons of sounds, a MIDI connection (through a USB port), a microphone input (he especially enjoys singing) and many other nice features. All this for only $88. It's just amazing. When I first got into electronic music in the 80's (I'd been playing the piano since the late 50's), it cost hundreds of dollars to get a cheap, not very good synthesizer. To get a sampler that sounded something like a piano was well over a thousand dollars. And the keyboards were cheap and many were not touch sensitive. The first good 88-key keyboard I got that felt like a piano cost about $1300 (in the early 90's) - and it had no sounds! It was just a controller and you needed to buy sound modules for it. The best programs for computers were on the Macintosh (relatively expensive in those days) and the programs were hundreds of dollars.

Now things are so inexpensive, you'd think school music programs would be flourishing but most public schools are cutting back their music programs. After all, how do you have a standardized test for music? I don't see many schools cutting back on their football and basketball teams but they are cutting out art, drama and music. I was watching a college football game the other day (for some reason, I couldn't find the local science fair on TV :-) and the coach was being interviewed after his team had just won in the last few seconds of the game. He said, "This is why these kids came here to school!" I thought they went for an education. Of course, I know how it works. It's just a shame.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Where's the "Engineering" part?

Well, I call this blog "Adventures in Engineering" and have yet to mention engineering (let alone any adventures). Here is a bit of engineering in daily life.

I just got back from our company cafeteria. There are the usual things there including a holder for rolls of paper towels. Lately, the rolls haven't been fitting very well into one of the holders. Either the rolls are getting narrower or the holder has been bent so that it is wider (this would be tricky because the holder is made of plastic). Either way, when you put a roll of paper towels in it, the roll tends to fall through. To make it more exciting (a real adventure for this blog??), the garbage can is directly below it. So, the stakes are high! If the paper towel roll falls, you don't want to use it again.

Someone took a stab at making things better and, using a bit of real world engineering, cut a piece of plastic tube that was wide enough to fit between the arms of the holder to hold the roll up. The problem with this design happened as soon as someone (me) tried to change the paper. I didn't know that the "fix was in", so to speak, and the plastic tube dropped into the garbage. I was able to retrieve it and clean it off and, since it doesn't touch the paper, put it back. I didn't know who had fixed the holder but offered my thanks in my heart.

Just today, though, I noticed the paper towel dispenser was empty. Apparently, someone had changed the roll, the plastic tube "insert" had fallen out into the garbage and this person just let it go. I didn't see the tube anywhere nearby and wasn't about to go fishing for it in the garbage. So, I hoped that maybe the problem had been that the paper towels had just been a bad lot and that a new roll of towels would be wide enough to fit correctly. No such luck. So now it was up to me. I tried bending the plastic arms so that they were closer together but unlike metal the plastic arms did not hold their new shape. So I was faced with an engineering problem.

In the end, I tore off some sheets of the new roll of paper towels and folded them over to make them thicker and shoved them between the ends of the holder and the wall. The flexible plastic arms now pointed in a little more than they did before. I tried the new roll of towels but it still wasn't held tightly enough. So, I folded the paper over a few more times. Still no good. I kept trying until the roll of paper towels was held tightly (but not TOO tightly). We'll see how well (and how long) this fix works.

But to me this is the essence of engineering and we all do it often. We are, after all, defined by anthropologists as "The Tool Making Animal". The WAS the definition of our species until some scientists discovered that chimpanzees also made tools (many other species have been found to make tools since). So, the anthropologists had to change the definition to define us as "The Animals That Use Tools to Make Other Tools." It was either that or invite the chimps to send a representative to the UN.

To get back to my point - an engineer looks at a problem, tries to break it down into its components, attempts to quantize it as much as possible and then makes an educated guess at something that will work and tries it. If it works, he rejoices, has a piece of pizza and writes it up in his notebook. If it doesn't work, he analyzes the failure and either tries a different solution or modifies the original attempt. This gets tested. This is what engineers do all day. Try and test. Try and test. An engineering education is essentially learning how to analyze problems, come up with possible solutions and analyze the failures. This last one is important because there are always failures. Even the final answer has to have a failure mode somewhere. But that has to be analyzed and documented somewhere. For instance, you can only use a battery in a certain temperature range. Or a water-proof watch will only work down to a certain depth of water.

It's an exciting and exacting profession. You can spend a lifetime learning about it and getting to be better at it. You never get a perfect answer but you can usually get most things to work well enough for all practical circumstances.

Our dog Charlie

Here is a picture of me with our dog Charlie. I'm on the left :-) He's a great dog. He is half Bassett Hound and half Black Labrador Retriever. He is very good natured and plays well with the kids (our four-year old is a little intimidated by his enthusiasm sometimes, though). I've uploaded this mostly so I can use it as my picture for the blog but it leads to a note about our new house.

The house is being built as a attachment to my mother-in-law's house and we are temporarily living with her (driving her crazy) until the new place is ready. Charlie has been sleeping in the garage at night but last week, something spilled in the garage filling it with a gasoline-like smell and we worried that it would either be harmful or annoying to Charlie during the night. So, we decided to let him sleep in the basement of the new house. It's dry and clean and has an opening to the basement of my mother-in-law's house where we've been sleeping. So, we can hear him if there is a problem.

My wife was laughing that, for as anxious as we all are to move into the new house, Charlie is the first one to get to sleep there. He doesn't seem to appreciate the great honor he has. He just seems to like the extra room he now has.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

First post to this blog

It's October 14, 2006. I'm 55 years old and I've been working as an electronics engineer since 1975. I'm married with two kids and we're within a month of moving into our new home.

I hope to be writing about things I've learned in my profession, in my marriage, as a parent and in life in general. It probably won't be interesting to anyone but me, my family and my friends. But I just feel a need, sometimes, to write things down. Partly so I don't forget them, partly to share them with friends and family and partly just to get in the habit of writing something on a regular interval.

I bought an old farmhouse in 1982 (it had been a strawberry farm, among other things) and two acres of land plus a small cottage that could be rented out. I was unmarried at the time and thought it would take no time to fix up. Boy was I wrong! No house ever gets to the point where there is no work to do on it but this old house was in much worse shape than I could have imagined. But now, we're building a brand new house and everything will work, all the corners will be square and there won't be any hidden treasures behind the walls.

That's it for now. I'm going to get the rest of the blog in order and start in earnest tomorrow.