2012 News Archives

This page contains the news updates from 2012, in order to keep the Welcome page from getting too big as I continue to add updates to the renovation project and web site on that page.

click to enlarge
Finishing the decks was the major accomplishment of 2012 (1 photo).

2012 Projects
The House: 2012 started with a major upgrade to the home network, personal computer, and replacement of the servers since those were all getting rather old and slow. When the weather warmed in the Spring our attention turned to finishing the exterior projects of the engawa & tsukimi-dai  decks in the back yard. We also got a new grill and enjoyed a lot of time on the new decks throughout the Summer and early Fall, while I took some time to sew a full set of custom furniture covers for our new deck furniture. I started work on finishing the bathroom late in the year, and that, along with playing with some vintage bench vises, pretty much took care of the rest of 2012.
The Site: The KesterHouse site didn't get a lot of updates, since we were mostly spending time relaxing with friends on the new decks. I did manage a few updates highlighting the finishing of the decks, the new grill, and the vintage vises, all listed below.

2008 News Archives.
2009 News Archives.
2010 News Archives.
2011 News Archives.
2013 News Archives.
2014 News Archives.
2015 News Archives.
2016 News Archives.
2017 News Archives.
2018-21 News Archives.
2022 News Archives.

Old News Updates

The House: It seems any significant renovation progress just keeps getting pushed back due to health or weather issues of late. The foot is better so I can walk, but the weather turned cold quickly (or perhaps not, but being laid up in doors meant I couldn't do any Winter prep work outside, and now it's all frozen). Then at some point along they way between attending friends Christmas parties and meeting lots of folks at Church, I managed to catch pneumonia. Symptoms started to show on Christmas day, and it was confirmed with a doctor visit a couple days later. It seems to be clearing up now thanks to some antibiotics, so that's good. I guess the good news is that after 30 years of smoking, this has finally gotten me to stop (it's been over a week now). It's not going great, but I've kept my temper for the most part, so that's something. I was thinking I'd need to stop in a month anyway (I'll turn 50 at the end of January), but I was hoping to sort of taper myself off over a few weeks. Anyway - lots of time on my hands since I can't move much before I run out of breath, which means it's an excellent time to update the site!
The Site: Other than standard garden maintenance duties and a little extra time on the vehicles this Fall, all the project work effort had been put into finishing the Engawa & Tsukimi-dai. With those projects completed (mostly), I've added a number of sections to the Engawa page, starting with Screw Hole Plugs Installation, then followed that with a new section about Staining the Decks, and a few paragraphs about the new Grill & Outdoor Furnishings. All that brings the Engawa page to the current state of affairs, with just a couple projects to finish in the Finishing Touches section. I've also updated the search index and Project Timeline page as usual, to finish the updates for 2012. Happy New Year everyone!

The House: Well, there's not much I can say to justify going this long with no website update, other than I'm sorry it's taken me so long to get back at it. We finished the decks late in the Summer and enjoyed doing lots of entertaining in the garden throughout the Fall. I also decided to finally do some long avoided work on the cars to get them all ready for Winter, and before I knew it, Thanksgiving was upon us. On Turkey Day I managed to dump a pot of boiling water on my foot, which resulted in two weeks of sitting with my foot elevated while things healed - sure glad I put all those grab bars and a seat in the shower. Now that I can sort of get a shoe on and walk again, I need to try and get outside to start some leaf clean-up before the snow comes.
I managed to break my tiny old bench vise a few weeks ago while doing some automotive work, which meant a trip to the storage locker to dig up something from my old car shop as a replacement. What I brought home and cleaned up to use turned out to be a very interesting old hunk of iron. That's what finally got me back to updating the site, since I want to show off that thing of beauty...
The Site: While I've been taking plenty of project pictures over the last few months as work progressed, today's update is just for the new vise stuff. I'm attempting to not make myself update the entire site at once, so this will have to do for now. To that end, I created a new section regarding Shop Tools & Equipment over on the Et cetera page, since I have a lot of vintage shop stuff sitting in storage I'd like to eventually share information about with the world. Because I snapped off my old vise, the new section regarding Bench Vises seemed like a good place to start. To keep it simple (and because I'm not adding anything new about the actual renovation projects), this update does not include the usual search index and timeline refreshes.

The House: The decks are ready for a few days of crawling around and installing screw hole plugs, although that's been a little delayed while I worked on the rest of the yard and with getting the boat ready for another season on the lake. Last year the karensansui was largely ignored, so this year I rebuilt the big island, re-cut the edge near the shed and replaced the old wooden edging with more concrete bricks, then added another 30 bags of marble chips. I also finally got around to making a new rake with a heavy head with angled teeth cut from a chunk of 4 x 6, rather than little bamboo tines. The new rake made working the fresh gravel very rewarding, and we're very pleased with the results. Between family visits, the home owner taking a week off for the 4th, and time spend working on the dry gravel garden and pruning, we seem to be spending more time sitting on the deck enjoying an adult beverage than actually working on the deck. That's fine with me though - it's important to keep the home owner happy, doncha know.
The Site: I added a new section regarding Final Tsukimi-dai   Decking Installation & Trim Work to the Engawa & Tsukimi-dai  page to update that page to the current state of affairs. While doing a little poking around with my new wide screen monitor, I noticed some of the longer pages had their bottoms cut-off with that nifty new top button I added, so I tweaked the code on those to fix that issue too. I've also updated the search index and Project Timeline page as usual.

The House: I know, I know... another 3 months with no website update. Migrating from an 8 year old Windows XP computer to a new Windows 7 system takes a while. While I've been busy getting all the old and new applications installed and configured on the new system, I also managed to finish hand-planing and installing the decking on the tsukimi-dai, as well as all the trim for both decks. I still need to get all the screw hole plugs installed, then I can get busy staining the decks to finish that project for now. I also spent a fair amount of time weeding and pruning the garden, and cleaning up the pond and re-potting a few water lilies, since the pond was fairly neglected last Summer with all the deck construction going on. We even picked up a new grill a few weeks ago, so although the decks aren't finished, we're making good use of them as weather permits.
The Site: The only site change this time around was to move all the 2011 News updates off this Welcome page and over to a new 2011 News Archive page. I still need to get the Engawa & Tsukimi-dai  Decking Installation section caught up to the current state of affairs, which I'll attempt to take care of soon.

The House: Yes, I did it again... months gone by with no website update. I'd like to say it's because I've been so busy working on the house I've had no time to get at the computer, but unfortunately that hasn't been the case. House progress since the last update is that I did manage to get the decking more or less installed on the tsukimi-dai  before my brother came to visit last Thanksgiving. "Mostly installed" meaning I didn't get the boards screwed down, but I did get a couple nails tacked in to each one so my young nephew wouldn't fall through the thing because of a loose board. I also got the last of the RainCoat® applied, so the 6 month countdown to stain application started last November, instead of this Spring
I didn't get much else done between Thanksgiving and New Years, although I enjoyed the holidays with The Lovely Bride as usual, and we had a very relaxing time at home together. With the new year upon us, I turned my attention to working on finishing the Bathroom trim, door and counter installation.
Then I tweaked my back (again) which put me out of commission for a couple weeks... then a couple computers decided to have problems...then it was March. How the heck did that happen!?
The Site: I've not made too many changes for this first update since 2011: I added a few additional photos to the Hand Plane Gallery as I picked up a couple more old tools over the Winter. I also added a little Continued Engawa & Tsukimi-dai  Decking Installation section to the Engawa & Tsukimi-dai  page just to update that page to where I left off last Fall. I've also updated the search index and Project Timeline page to reflect the current status, and that's enough for now. While it's not site specific work, I have done some major upgrading to the computers in the home office... including having them all offline for a week or two while re-building everything.

The result is that we've now got a new HP N40L ProLiant MicroServer running WHS 2011 and IIS 7.5 to replace all our old Windows 2000 servers. The WHS 2011 system houses all our digital images and music on a 2TB RAID 1 logical disc. It automatically performs a nightly back-up of the client PCs and itself to an external 3TB disc. Between the RAID array and the external back-up, I'm confident we won't lose any data if there's a hardware problem or system crash. We've got another ProLiant MicroServer configured as a Windows XP box that runs an HP 4670 scanner and the HP imaging software to transfer images from the HP 945 digital camera (since that hardware won't work with Windows 7). The 10-year-old LaserJet printer was no longer functioning, so that got replaced with an HP Color LaserJet CP1525nw printer. I also upgraded the networking components with a new NetGear WNDR3800 router, a GS605AV switch, and all new Cat6 Ethernet cables - including a pair that I threaded under the house and through the walls to the wall plate behind the TV in order to get rid of the old wireless bridge/access point set-up we had. Lastly, I upgraded the uninterruptable power supplies (because my old ones all used serial cables to communicate with the servers) to USB attached APC Back-UPS Pro RS 700G units.
The N40Ls are completely silent, use less than 30w of power when running, and cost less than $300 even with the addition of more memory and a DVD. All the new gigabit networking components are streaming media to The Lovely Bride's new iPad2 (thanks Santa) and TV without the slightest stutter. The last thing to update will be my old XP box, and I've already got a new HP desktop all configured and waiting for the tax return to click the "Buy" button. I enjoy fiddling with computers, but it's been rather nice to replace all those home-built systems with something I can pretty much just take out of the box and plug in. However, after many weeks of computer geek mode, and with the weather warming outside, I'm looking forward to getting back to some carpentry and yard work.