April 25th, 2005


I Live for This

It's kind of an unsettled day out there, occasionally rainy, occasionally sunny, very breezy. I spent most this morning diagnosing, and then replacing, a bad power supply in our receptionist's computer. Since we didn't have any spare power supplies lying about, I got to drive around for a bit (twixt here and CompUSA) during one of the nicer periods of the day.

The refurbishing of my office continues. During the week I scrubbed down all the baseboard components, opening up a nice cut on my left thumb with a sharp edge in the process. I was prepping them for painting, but as I stood there putting pressure on my thumb to stem the bleeding, I decided they actually cleaned up pretty well, and they would mostly be behind stuff anyway, so why bother? I reinstalled them Saturday, and they look fine. I also set up the TV and its accoutrements. I decided that the cheap new 20" model I got a couple of weeks ago is just too big for the spot, so I picked up a small (15") LCD TV to go there. The LCD was three time as expensive as the other, but I do like the picture quality quite a bit more, especially on DVDs. The 20" goes in the living room to replace my 21 year-old Hitachi 19", which is on it's last legs. I plan to get a 30" to 32" HDTV for there eventually, but this will do for now.

Sunday, I tackled the interior walls. It's much less surface area to work on than the others, but a) they had way more things that need to be patched, and b) they are usually behind an enormous desk. There were also shelf brackets attached the wall, and both the shelves and desk a were piled high with stuff. I set up a table in the opposite corner, took moved all the piles of stuff onto it. Then I moved the desk to the center of the room, took down the shelves and brackets, and scrubbed the walls clean.

Next up was patching. There were lots of small holes and dings, and one big crack in one corner of the entryway to the kitchen. I learned my lesson with the "paintable" silicone caulk, so it was time to try other options. Down to the basement to look for some software. I bought a couple of different types of patching compound back when I first bought the house, tubs of both some "lightweight" wall patch and some standard joint compound, as well as a box of dry, mix-it-yourself patching compound that my brother swears by. However, even though the tubs were well sealed, the intervening years weren't been kind to either of them. Neither product was particularly homogeneous, and the lightweight stuff reeked of ammonia. The dry stuff was still fine, so I decided to try that for everything but the crack. I decided to use some the paintable acrylic caulk on that, figuring that the flexibility of the caulk will be useful there. I don't expect the bleed-through problems I had with the silicone, because the acrylic is essentially the same material as latex paint base.

The caulking went okay. It took me a couple of tries to get it right, because I didn't initially grasp that the two sides of the crack were now at different surface heights with respect to one another. That meant that just filling the crack wasn't going to make for a smooth surface. I had to build up the caulk on the lower side of the crack, and taper it down to the wall. I'm really not very good at that.

I now see why my brother likes the dry patching compound so much, besides the fact that it's always ready to go. When made according to directions, it's a lot thinner than standard patching materials. It's about the consistency of pastry cream. This means it's very easy to force down into small holes, and when you go over it with a spackling blade to clean up the excess material, the excess doesn't pull the material back out of the hole with it. It also dries very quickly, and once dry, you can smooth it with a wet sponge. All very convenient. I like it a lot more than conventional spackle.

Tonight, it's masking, followed by a coat of Killz for the patches.
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