20 Years Later, I Finally Completed My Book

It’s been so long since I last touched base about my book that I wouldn’t blame anyone for forgetting that I had written one in the first place. Well, long story short, writing is the easy part, editing is the hard part. Shocker.

I presented my Mom with the finalized manuscript on Mother’s day. She told me that when I was nine I informed her that I would write a book some day. It took me the better part of twenty years, Ma – sorry about the wait.

All my life I have been surrounded by the most kind, creative, and talented people imaginable. I hope this book brings them a fraction of the joy they have brought me.

Click here to find the book on Amazon. Currently, the book is only available on Kindle. The reason? Kindle allows authors to self-publish with an insanely convenient platform. Also, digital publishing allowed me to offer the book for only $0.99.  Want me to make printed copies? Want the book available in other digital formats? Let me know in the comments area.

 

 

 

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3M Vs Frog Tape(Delicate Surface) – Home Imbrewvement #1

I’m Back! I decided to take this past week off for a little R and R, and I could think of no better way to kick off a new year on the site than with a series I’ve wanted to start since for some time. I call it, Home Imbrewvement. The function of the series is to pair the trials and tribulations of home improvement projects with the alcoholic beverage necessary to forget the parts of the project that didn’t go so well. Example: a glass of whiskey does wonders to calm the nerves after forgetting to shut off the electricity before installing a new light fixture. You get the idea.

The fixture in question. I may have received a mild shock or two, but look how well it matches the cabinets! File that last under things I never thought I would some day say.

The fixture in question. I may have received a mild shock or two, but look how well it matches the cabinets! File that last under things I never thought I would some day say.

For most first time home owners, myself included, one of the seemingly easy projects to take on is painting. For those who have painted their homes, I need not detail how wrongly the word easy is used in relation to paint. For those who have not, I’d hate to spoil the surprise. However, any pro, amateur, or casual painter will agree that a good paint job is all in the preparation. This means that painters tape will be among the first things you’ll consider before painting. The omnipresent and classic 3M sprung into my minds eye without ever having put brush to paint, this is how heroically they have endured in the market. Confident in the ability of a time tested product, I used their tape to paint my basement earlier in the year. The tape performed remarkably, but, the shortcomings of the previous home-owners were thrown into sharp relief. Imagine, if you will, that the persons who used to live in your home didn’t do a job well. Though thus thought is shure to drop your jaw, it became more than a real horror in our home (future blogs I assure you). Remember how I said a good paint job is all in the prep? They clearly chose not to prepare well, as evidenced by the photo below.

Not sanding the trim before painting = this mess.

Not sanding the trim before painting = this mess.

And so, the tape did its job, but it also revealed a job that had not been done. Now suspicious that the trim had not been sanded upstairs I took to the store to find a delicate surface tape in the hope of avoiding the same issue. It was then I noticed FrogTape. Previously against the idea of using any other brand of tape, my curiosity had me asking opinions. As I found none conclusive, I decided to test them against one another. After all, why the hell not? Now, they both tout an “edge lock” or special sealant that one is to believe is some sort of magical barrier that will never allow paint to bleed. They also both sport enlarged width acting as a better barrier when painting. Following is my photo data.

One hell of  a clean line. Seems Frog Tape works as well as they claim.

One hell of a clean line. Seems Frog Tape works as well as they claim.

3M tape also performs admirably.

3M tape also performs admirably.

Ahh, here we notice some bleed from under the 3M.

Ahh, here we notice some bleed from under the 3M.

Never the two shall meet... Or I forced them to.

Never the two shall meet… Or I forced them to.

An after photo of the trim. The discerning eye would see that the Frog Tape side seems to have out performed the 3M, if only marginally.

An after photo of the trim. The discerning eye would see that the Frog Tape side seems to have out performed the 3M, if only marginally.

My conclusion on the tape is this – FrogTape is well worth your time and consideration. 3M tape still performs as well as you would believe, but its normal adhesive is very tacky, and its delicate surface leaves something to be desired. However, a truly good prep job should result in a wonderful paint job regardless of the tape used.

My conclusion about painting in the winter is this – DON’T. Cold temps don’t bode well for paint drying, dust gets all over, and into, everything. Ventilation and air flow is poor, and the added dry time of each coat will leave you feeling ill accomplished compared to warmer weather painting.

If you must paint in the winter, you’ll need a whole host of beer to get you through it. Nothing fancy, specific, or particular, just good old fashioned beer. Trust me, you’ll need it when you realize that not even the delicate surface tape doesn’t leave the trim paint where it ought to be.

The most important tool for the job.

The most important tool for the job.

DIY Sound Booth

Since I have decided to become a voice actor, a dedicated space in which to record my vocals has become something of a necessity. Searching for home, or portable solutions that were also less costly often led to mixed opinions and varying degrees of success. Finally, I decided to grab the bull by the horns and come up with my own design. Attempt one was meant to be something  of a temporary solution, and quite frankly, it shows. However, the PVC Cube wrapped in moving blankets and lined with gun case foam did prove effective. For proof, listen to any of the preceding audio I have posted on the blog.

Materials for V:1 Audio booth.

Materials for V:1 Audio booth.

Admittedly a bit hard to see, but the structure housed my mic, computer, and scripts for recording.

Admittedly a bit hard to see, but the structure housed my mic, computer, and scripts for recording.

V:1 of my audio booth cost roughly $30 to create, for anyone interested in the plans, please comment below. Though the structure worked, it was also stifled by a few limitations. Chief among the limitations, the fact that I was forced to sit to record. Anyone who has recorded before will know that it is a hell of a lot easier to sound natural and lively while standing. With this goal in mind, I decided to design an upgrade…

For this project you will need: 1. Any power drill. 2. Any Power Saw. 3. Staple gun, brad gun, or nail gun. 4. Wood and shelf Brackets of your choice. 5. A kick ass assistant (specifically in this case, my wife. Her patience with me is to be praised). 6. Moving blankets, or whatever sound deadening material of your choice. Pictures of the construction of the booth, our experience building it, and the fist recording from within the booth are in the video below. Please comment for greater detail, or step by step instruction.

A Big Ass Glass of Humble Pie

8 or so years ago I walked into where I now work and purchased my first home-brewing equipment and ingredient kits. Yesterday I stood in awe as 50+ teams of people simultaneously brewed batches of beer at the Calder plaza in beautiful downtown Grand Rapids. What happened in the middle is ill-important, save the detail that when fully steeped in the culture of home-brewing and brewers it is sometimes easy to forget how powerfully their passion can manifest itself. For the past 2 years, Siciliano’s Market, my place of employ, has rented the Calder plaza on the first Saturday of May for the express purpose of providing a unique approach to nationally sanctioned event known as Big Brew Day sponsored by the American Home Brewers Association. Our Idea seems simple enough, donate over 50 batches of beer to be brewed by 50 or so teams during Big Brew Day, make sure the time constraints and other mitigations of renting the plaza are met with vigor, and enjoy the company of a cacophony of driven DIYers. However, beneath the layers of seemly simplicity there lay a mine field of harrowing tasks such as, tireless phone calls to city operatives, coordinating deliveries or necessary utilities, the invention and conception of specific equipment, paperwork, the weighing and grinding of 50 batches of beer, laying schematics of team layouts, acquiring teams, battling with weather reports, paperwork, tracking down heat resistant dolly carts, finding and employing entertainment, locating a sealed means of hauling away waste material, buying fire-hose, hoping against all hope that everything goes according to plan, and PAPERWORK.

It is all worth it.

The joy for me lies not with the fact that Steve and Barb, owners of Siciliano’s, trusted me to write the recipe that would be donated for the event, not within the samples of beer poured for me by participating brewers, nor in the nail driving game brought by one of our brew clubs. For me, the joy lay in the collected efforts of all in attendance that were equally responsible for the inception and success of Big Brew Day. I stood far back from the crowd, and in so doing I felt so very small in the best way possible. This was not an event put on by the Staff of one store (thought believe you me, Barb, Steve, Sarah, Kati, myself, and the rest of the staff worked our asses off for it), this is an event that grew from the passion of a collective of individuals who cried out for an outlet of expression as much as we at Siciliano’s were eager to oblige. Yesterday, we as a community proved again that we were willing to forsake any hardships in the name of expression and creation. It’s only doubly wonderful due to the fact that we chose to make beer. For all who thanked us yesterday for hosting the event I say back to you; thank you, we honestly could not have done it without you.

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Well earned rest after a well wrought event.

Well earned rest after a well wrought event.