Insulation Prep Work

Before we bought the house, the REALTOR called Nicor and found out what the gas bill was for the prior year. $99 a month. $1200 bucks to heat the house for the year – it was basically vacant but heated for a year before we moved in. A quick peek up the attic access showed that the insulation was basically missing.

My Attic
My Attic

The fix is to insulate the attic of course. Not as simple as it sounds…

The insulation is a mess!
The insulation is a mess!

The bathroom fan vented into the attic. Well, into a rafter in the attic, really.

The bathroom fan vented into the rafter.
The bathroom fan vented into the rafter. I added some ducting to vent it elsewhere.
The bathroom now vents out towards the gable end attic vent.
The bathroom now vents out towards the gable end attic vent.

There was some jacked up electrical up there and a recessed lite I needed to shield from the insulation.

Wireing Mess
Wireing Mess

While I was WAY in the back finishing up the bathroom vent, I just about fell into a hole in my attic. No, not fell and made a hole in my ceiling, I found a hole in my attic. I know, I thought the same thing, who keeps a hole in their attic? Well, I have one. The front entry is lower then the rest of the house, so the attic drops down at that point.

Hole in the attic
A man-trap in my attic? No, just a lower section of ceiling on the main floor.

It's a big hole in my attic
It's a big hole in my attic
I insulated the exterior walls and the 'floor' to keep heat in the house.
I insulated the exterior walls and the 'floor' to keep heat in the house.
I cut a few pieces of scrap wood.
I cut a few pieces of scrap wood.
And made a floor for my attic to cover the hole. I will blow insulation over the top of this.
And made a floor for my attic to cover the hole. I will blow insulation over the top of this.

The next step is to actually blow in the insulation. That is NOT going to be fun in this short attic.

Bayesian Presentation Followup

Last night I gave my Bayesian presentation for the Fox Valley Computer Professionals.

One of the attendees does what’s called sketchnote taking. This is basically doodling notes. He sent me a picture of his notes afterwards, and I immediately thought “That is flipping COOL!” My second thought was “was I THAT boring?” My third thought was, “I wish my presentation was as good as this guy’s notes!”

See for yourself!

Bayesian Filters Sketchnote (click to enlarge)

How cool is that? He’s got the high points of the presentation right there. Anybody that was there will instantly remember just looking at these notes. They will also get a good chuckle out of the subtle wit that is embedded in the imagery.

Image used by permission by John Uhri, who draws at and codes at

The starting of new shelves for the Kitchen Pantry

We recently moved the Fridge from where it was when we bought the house. This left a wonderful area for a pantry.

A friend picked up a bunch of scrap wood from freecycle, and dropped it off in my garage knowing I am always looking for good junk. Part of my new found lumber loot, is a bunch of tongue and groove car siding. I decided to use this to make the pantry shelves.

I did up a plan in Sketchup and showed the wife as she sometimes doesn’t understand my vague handwavings and usage of generic terms.

[NOTE insert image here]

Everything so far is being cut on my table saw. It’s really a pain in the neck too, as my garage is so full of junk that I don’t have the proper space I need. I have other saws, a jigsaw, a circular saw, but I can’t cut a straight line with them like I can on the table saw. There’s a radial arm saw in a shed at my folks for me, I just gotta go up and get it.

I started with uprights so I have a good, strong support for my shelves. The shelves across the back will be 2 pieces deep, and I will have a 1 piece deep shelf on the left side eventually. That explains the funky wooden corner. I can run shelves both ways. I pinned the uprights to the walls with some finish nails, but those are just to keep everything from sliding around, the shelves wedged in is what will really hold everything together.

The start of the shelves in the pantry.

The shelves will have a raised nosing for added strength and so stuff doesn’t want to fall off. Not much of a nosing, maybe an eighth of an inch or so. I cut the outside of the uprights at a 45, so the nosing will be cut to match. It will be quite a pain in the butt to finish out the shelves, but I think it will be worth it in the end. The side shelves will also be cut with a tongue on the one end to interface with the back shelves. Not easy to describe, but when I get it done at some future date, a photo will clear up what I mean.

The shelf bracket is cut to match the 45 of the upright as it's taller then the shelf nosing will be.

The back of the back shelves will need to be cut on the left corner so they slide all the way back to the wall. Another pain to cut – probably will happen with both the table saw and a jig saw.

The roughed in shelf. It still needs to be cut in the back left and nosed.

I’ve got the back shelves up, and put a bunch of stuff on them just to get a feel for it. They are all going to come down and get re-hung at a different height once I figure out what exactly goes where. It’s a matter of re-arranging the rest of the kitchen around the holes we opened up and deciding what’s really going to go into the pantry. Items will be measured, remeasured, and then heights padded because somebody is going to make that ONE box that’s an inch taller than all the rest.

Stuff on my shelves! I doubt the kitchen appliances will stay  there.

All in all, I am quite pleased with the progress so far. I’ve scrapped a few big ideas I had, and am tweaking others to make the space work.

I am quite pleased with how well the car siding fits in with our cabinets.

I am trying to decide if I want to leave the pantry open or close it. If I closed it up, I would probably use a bi-fold door that opens to the left. I potentially have 5 cabinet doors that I can free up and use as the face of the bi-fold, but they are of 2 different sizes, so I don’t think that will work very well.

Bayesian Presentation for Fox Valley Computer Professionals

I frequently give presentations on topics related to web development and related technologies. Tomorrow, I am going to be doing a presentation on Bayesian Statistical Inferencing for the Fox Valley Computer Professionals. This is the second time I am giving this presentation, as I gave it about a year ago for the local PHP Meetup group. I’ve revised the presentation with some of the things I have since learned as well as for the new PHP library b8 which I use as an example implementation.

I’ve used this library at work for over a year now for SPAM filtering several email accounts as I process them using PHP. It’s worked quite well for the most part.

Below is the Google Docs Presentation I will be giving tomorrow.

Beer Bread

I’ve been meaning to make beer bread for a while. Today, today was the day. I was munchy, looking through the fridge, and found some beer way in back. Now, I don’t much like beer for drinking, but I do like cooking with it.

Beer Bread Recipe

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tbls sugar
  • 1 tbls baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 bottle beer

Bake 3:50 for about an hour.

A bottle of beer is about 22oz, but I only had cans. So I used 1 full can, and most of a second can. I added the second can until it was about a thick pancake batter consistency. It was still a bit lumpy like a pancake batter should be. It might have been a bit too much beer, as I had to bake it for about an hour and a quarter before a knife came out mostly clean.

Beer bread in the oven

I am also still getting used to my gas oven. I’ve got a bed baking stone on the bottom rack. I’ve had good luck with this in my old oven and won’t bake without them any more.

Beer bread fresh from the oven

The extra baking time gave it a really nice golden crust.

Cut it thick and eat it like it was cookies

I am not sure if it is the recipe or the silicone pan I used but the crust was almost leathery on the outside and very moist and dense on the inside. Almost a carrot cake or boston baked bread type consistency

I thought the bread was only OK. My wife LOVED it. She loved how it smelled.

I’d make it again, if only for my wife.