Go, TJ! It’s your birthday!

Erm, I mean: On this, the 262nd anniversary of the birthday of Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom, and founder of the University of Virginia

…what? That’s how he wanted to be remembered.

…anyway, on April 13, think for a minute about the man and his contributions to mankind, and these words of his, some of which I cited in 2003 and which seem even more relevant today:

  • “If there be one principle more deeply rooted than any other in the mind of every American, it is that we should have nothing to do with conquest.” (To William Short, 1791)
  • “The government of a nation may be usurped by the forcible intrusion of an individual into the throne. But to conquer its will, so as to rest the right on that, the only legitimate basis, requires long acquiescence and cessation of all opposition.” (From Monticello, 1825)
  • “The most successful war seldom pays for its losses.” (To Edmond Randolph, 1785)
  • “Education is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.” (to William C. Jarvis, 1820)
  • “Believing that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their Legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof’, thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.” (from R. to A. Danbury Baptists, 1802)

And check out this year’s Jefferson Muzzles awards, given by the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression to “draw national attention to abridgements of free speech and press” and chosen from “an alarmingly large group of candidates.” Recipients this year, unsurprisingly, include the FCC, both political parties, various high school officials, the departments of State and Homeland Security, and the Virginia House of Delegates (for the “droopy draws” bill).

Return of Houseblog: finishing old projects

During the days this week while not teaching SAT classes, I’ve finally been doing some much needed work around the house. Two projects have been particularly stalled, and now seemed the perfect time to address them: patching small holes in the kitchen ceiling that we left after an ice dam adventure in January, and re-finishing the doorway from which I removed the trim so we could install our refrigerator.

—Ice dam? I see I didn’t write about this one… Here’s how ice dams form, and we had one after the first big snowfall in January that dripped water down through the kitchen ceiling as everything else melted. Since we caught the problem and drilled small holes to drain the accumulated water before the plaster crumbled and fell, all I had to do was to patch the holes with spackle and paint. I’ve got the holes patched, but at Lisa’s request moved on to the other project, since it’s a lot easier to do without dogs in the house.

As you’ll recall, our narrow 1941 doors were too small to permit a big refrigerator to move into the house, so I somewhat precipitously got out crowbar and reciprocating saw and removed the door molding from one of the kitchen entrances. And it stayed that way for some time, as visitors to our house can attest, while Lisa and I tried to decide what to do with the doorway. We didn’t want to reinstall all the trim, since we didn’t plan to hang a door there again. We talked about building an arch, like the doorway into the living room that faces the kitchen doorway. At the end we decided to go easy on ourselves and mud the exposed framing, then sand and paint and reinstall just the baseboard trim.

So I spent a few hours yesterday mudding one side and the top of the doorjamb. Or at least most of it. The surface left after the molding was removed was less even than I thought, requiring a lot of compound to fill in the holes and make everything level. One side has a half-inch gap between the kitchen wall and the wood framing of the door, so I need to go pick up something—probably blueboard or something like it—to patch the surface and raise it so I don’t consume another tub of the compound in the process.

For the record, I’m using a slow drying patching/joint compound to do the work. It’s hard to work, but I think it will dry much harder than the quick-paint stuff I used to patch the wall around the radiator cover. That stuff was scary—it was like shaving cream. Pictures will be posted once the mudding is done.

Oh yeah—the Houseblog section is now a part of the webring at Houseblogs.net, the group houseblogging site run by Jeanne and Aaron from HouseInProgress. Check out the web ring link, on the front page of my site in the site navigation, and visit some of the other great sites.

So apparently it snowed last night

Mercifully, it didn’t stick. I didn’t notice it though—after I returned from teaching the night’s SAT prep course, I decided to go see a movie.

(It seems like I do a lot of stuff for the first time during “batching” weeks. I haven’t been out to see a movie in a theatre by myself since I squirmed out of a showing of About a Boy the day I left Boston in 2002 to move to Seattle.)

I had meant to visit our town cinema, the Arlington Capitol Theatre, for about eight months, ever since moving here. Last night I learned two things—even on weeknights they have a good choice of movies in the 9:45 – 10:05 PM time slot, and one theatre pretty much looks like another once you get into the seats. I did like the entrance and lobby, though; very evocative (as was the mosaic tiled floor on the bathroom level in the basement!).

And the movie? I think A Very Long Engagement just entered the rank of my favorite films. Definitely a movie to make you want to go to the movies again.