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Wed Dec 12, 2012, 05:18 PM

Off-topic from normal 'pets' fare, but.. (dial-up warning)

I thought I'd share some pictures from my ongoing reef tank and fish room build, in case there are other reef keepers hiding at DU.

First, the plan:

When we moved our new (to us) house, we decided that an extra bedroom adjacent to the space I use for my office would make a great fish room. A 'fish room' is a place to store all the support equipment, filtration, testing supplies, spare parts, etc that a big tank requires. The plan was to cut a hole in a non-load-bearing wall seven feet wide and eighty inches tall, and place the tank in the opening. When finished, the tank would look like it was floating in the wall from the outside, with custom looking cabinetry above and below.

Here's what the exterior of the tank and room will look like:



And here's what that space looked like before we started:


I figured the tank would be 84" long, 24" tall, and 32" deep. There'll be a set of panels on the top that either come off or lift up for front access, and the bottom panels will likely be doors, so that I have access to the filtration from both front and back.

In the fish room itself, I plan to have two 65g barrels plumbed inline for doing painless water changes (alternate which one is mixing v which one is inline), a 100g refugium for growing sea grasses, and about eight feet of counter space for qt tank / testing / microscopy / etc with cabinets above.

Here's bird's eye view of what the space behind the tank will look like:


If you're wondering about those things on the counter, in addition to the normal testing that one does with a reef tank (calcium, alkalinity, nitrates, magnesium), I like to investigate things under my microscopes and take pictures and video. If you've ever looked at a drop of pond water as part of a biology class, that's nothing compared to what you can see in a marine environment.





For the walls of the room, we're going to have some fun. This build is going to take a long time since we're doing all the work ourselves, so we have time to play. My wife and I are getting a lot of joy out of decorating the room with stencils. Here are some shots of things we plan to do with stencils..









So those are the plans. Here's where we are in real life.

We took down the closet that formerly occupied one corner of the room:



We scraped down the popcorn ceiling texture and smoothed out the knockdown texture on the walls:





We moved and added outlets that will now be above the counters:



We cut the hole in the wall and test fit the stand for the tank:



We painted the walls a nice blue and sand textured paint:



I installed and painted the cabinets on the right side, and put in a countertop:



We started stenciling the walls:

















I installed a computer monitor and cables inside the wall, with USB ports on the counter (the monitor folds up out of the way):



We trimmed out the opening and put the tank (280 gallons) in place:





And that's where we are today!

In the future, I need to install the left counters and countertop, install the sink and plumbing, water change barrels and refugium, and start getting the tank actually going (not to mention a lot more stenciling to be done.)

We'll be using all tank raised and/or captive bred fish, and aquacultured or locally propagated corals. Lighting will be via high efficiency LED lights.

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Reply Off-topic from normal 'pets' fare, but.. (dial-up warning) (Original post)
X_Digger Dec 2012 OP
meti57b Dec 2012 #1
X_Digger Dec 2012 #6
The Velveteen Ocelot Dec 2012 #2
X_Digger Dec 2012 #7
grntuscarora Dec 2012 #3
nadine_mn Dec 2012 #4
charlie and algernon Dec 2012 #5
X_Digger Dec 2012 #8
ceile Dec 2012 #9
wildeyed Dec 2012 #10
TorchTheWitch Dec 2012 #11
X_Digger Dec 2012 #12
livetohike Dec 2012 #13
Adsos Letter Dec 2012 #14
X_Digger Dec 2012 #15
X_Digger Dec 2012 #16
RavensChick Dec 2012 #17
X_Digger Dec 2012 #18
Angry Dragon Dec 2012 #19
X_Digger Dec 2012 #20
X_Digger Dec 2012 #21
X_Digger Jan 2013 #22
X_Digger Jan 2013 #23
jgcalifornia Jun 2013 #39
X_Digger Jun 2013 #40
X_Digger Mar 2013 #24
Walk away Mar 2013 #25
X_Digger Mar 2013 #26
X_Digger Mar 2013 #27
progressoid Mar 2013 #28
X_Digger Mar 2013 #29
X_Digger Mar 2013 #30
X_Digger Mar 2013 #31
IrishAyes Mar 2013 #32
X_Digger Mar 2013 #33
IrishAyes Mar 2013 #34
IrishAyes Mar 2013 #35
X_Digger Mar 2013 #36
X_Digger Apr 2013 #37
IrishAyes Apr 2013 #38
X_Digger Jun 2013 #41
IrishAyes Jun 2013 #42
X_Digger Jun 2013 #43
IrishAyes Jun 2013 #44
CitizenLeft Jul 2013 #45
X_Digger Jul 2013 #46
CitizenLeft Jul 2013 #47
X_Digger Jul 2013 #48

Response to X_Digger (Original post)

Wed Dec 12, 2012, 06:10 PM

1. Really nice!!....

Please post pics of the fishos when they move into their new home.

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Response to meti57b (Reply #1)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 09:36 AM

6. Will do!

It's a slow process to set up a reef tank the right way. Establishing the biological filtration, adding photosynthetic corals and algae to deal with waste products, a crew of snails and crabs to serve as janitorial service..

Usually fish are the last thing to be added, since they represent the most unbalanced biological load.

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Response to X_Digger (Original post)

Wed Dec 12, 2012, 09:05 PM

2. WOW! That is so cool!

I was thinking of getting a small aquarium (in part, to amuse my cats), but your setup is just amazing. Wish I had enough room for something like that.

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Response to The Velveteen Ocelot (Reply #2)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 09:37 AM

7. Thanks! I started with a 20 gallon tank years ago..

If you have a local marine aquarium club, you can get started pretty cheaply.

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Response to X_Digger (Original post)

Wed Dec 12, 2012, 10:20 PM

3. That is so cool!

I've only ever had a small freshwater tank for goldfish---and I was only marginally successful at that. Your project is awesome!

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Response to X_Digger (Original post)

Wed Dec 12, 2012, 11:56 PM

4. Very cool

I'm impressed!

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Response to X_Digger (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 09:32 AM

5. So I assume that you'll invite us all over once you have it completed, right?

I'll bring beer and snacks!

I love that you'll have that support room to take care of the tank and to do testing and experimenting. Are you a biologist?

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Response to charlie and algernon (Reply #5)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 09:42 AM

8. Absolutely.. the local marine aquarium club does 'tank tours'

Where we go from one person's house to the next, looking at their tanks, seeing how they solved common problems.

I'm not a biologist, but I've volunteered at a couple of different public aquariums over the years. I've been in the hobby going on twenty years.

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Response to X_Digger (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 03:41 PM

9. Now that's dedication!

Can't wait to see the completed system!

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Response to X_Digger (Original post)

Thu Dec 13, 2012, 08:11 PM

10. fascinating!

Good luck with it. Keep us updated on your progress.

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Response to X_Digger (Original post)

Sat Dec 15, 2012, 01:22 AM

11. This is so awesome!

What a lot of work! I wouldn't even know where to start trying to do something like this. You just HAVE to keep posting more photos as things progress. I can't wait to see it when it's finished.


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Response to TorchTheWitch (Reply #11)

Sat Dec 15, 2012, 01:25 AM

12. Thanks, will do!

This weekend should see more stencils go up, but probably nothing *big* until next weekend (payday). Hehe.

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Response to X_Digger (Original post)

Sat Dec 15, 2012, 06:43 PM

13. Wow! Thanks for sharing this

Can't wait to see the tank in operation and all of the fish that will call it home .

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Response to X_Digger (Original post)

Sat Dec 15, 2012, 11:22 PM

14. Nice job!

Looks like a lot of work, but worth it.

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Response to X_Digger (Original post)

Sat Dec 15, 2012, 11:46 PM

15. Small update..

Not a lot going on this weekend. Added the sea horses, another layer of sea grasses, and the sand dollar..



And around the corner, I parked the weedy / leafy sea dragon..


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Response to X_Digger (Original post)

Wed Dec 26, 2012, 12:55 AM

16. Another small update..

I got the plumbing ran to where the sink will be, then installed and painted the left cabinets.



Today I got the countertop in place. I'll install the sink and faucet in a couple of weeks.



Tomorrow, I'll paint and mount the wall cabinets.

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Response to X_Digger (Original post)

Fri Dec 28, 2012, 10:18 PM

17. Amazing!

That is some serious DIY!! I love the detail with the cabinets, the stencils, and the paint color is stunning! Please let us know when it's finished! Great job!

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Response to RavensChick (Reply #17)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 12:21 AM

18. Thanks.. we tried at least 30 different sample colors at Lowe's.

The area where the hole was cut was covered with different splashes of paint.

Here's just some of the samples we tried for different things..



We looked at it in sunlight at different times of the day, then tried incandescent lighting, compact florescents, and even LED lights like what will be over the tank.

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Response to X_Digger (Original post)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 11:06 AM

19. Nice job .......... I was wondering if you have to beef up the joists under the tank

I would think a lot of weight .............. just wondering

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Response to Angry Dragon (Reply #19)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 01:46 PM

20. If this weren't in the basement, or on a slab, then yes.

If you have a pier and beam construction house, you have to consider the weight- at 8lbs per gallon of water, plus the 400lb tank, plus 100 lb stand, plus rock, plus sump, plus... it's definitely a concern.

Luckily we have a poured slab in our basement.

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Response to X_Digger (Original post)

Sun Dec 30, 2012, 09:48 PM

21. Another small update..

Got the left upper cabinets done..



And we added some stencils..



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Response to X_Digger (Original post)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 06:05 PM

22. Another small update..

My wife's been stenciling a few fish on the walls..





And I did these..





And I ordered the ceiling light from http://www.bigshipsalvage.com -



And this was just too cool to pass up.

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Response to X_Digger (Original post)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 10:26 PM

23. Another small update..

Got a few more things done.. the build is going slow to let funds recharge..

More stencils..











And the light installed..





As well, we got some tatouage done..













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Response to X_Digger (Reply #23)

Sun Jun 30, 2013, 12:48 PM

39. re:

hi.
did you outline and paint these stencils? or were they the peel off ones?
Ive been looking for some marine life stencils to paint outside on an exterior wall by our pool. Your s look great!

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Response to jgcalifornia (Reply #39)

Sun Jun 30, 2013, 01:14 PM

40. Painted stencils but also some tatouage

All the complex ones were multi-layer stencils- one layer per color.

e.g. This one was two layers



But this one was three



Here's a few links to the catalogs of places we got ours.

http://www.dresslerstencils.com/category_s/174.htm
http://www.stenciledinteriors.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=0001&Category_Code=fish
http://www.stencilkingdom.com/catalogue/seacoral/catalogue_body_seacoral.htm

The last few pictures above (the shells) are tatouage, which are peel and rub transfer.

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Response to X_Digger (Original post)

Mon Mar 11, 2013, 12:22 AM

24. Eensy weensy update..

Life and health issues kind of got in the way of this project, so it's been in a holding pattern for a while.

In the meantime, I put the cameras back online, and there's something in the empty tank for everyone to play with:

http://rowelab.com/fish/camera -- once the image comes up, click on 'spin the fish'

And while I'm twiddling my thumbs I set up the microscopes to check out some local critters..



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Response to X_Digger (Original post)

Mon Mar 11, 2013, 12:41 AM

25. This is fantastic! The updates as well!

One of my clients has two huge tanks that have been going for years. He has a guy come in once a week for maintenance and keeping them healthy is a big job. The cool thing is that both these tanks are completely alive! Watching them is like having a beautiful dream.

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Response to Walk away (Reply #25)

Mon Mar 11, 2013, 01:57 PM

26. Agreed. There is sooo much life in a reef tank.

Even life that's not immediately apparent.

The rockwork in a tank is called 'live rock' because of the beneficial life that it supports. Small worms, crustaceans, sponges, shrimp, tunicates, micro-brittle stars, snails.. it's not uncommon to find a reef-keeper sitting in front of their tank with a jeweler's loupe looking at something very small.

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Response to X_Digger (Original post)

Fri Mar 15, 2013, 11:00 PM

27. Another small update..

I got the sink installed and plumbed.



Then I cleaned up my RO/DI unit and got it installed. (Reverse Osmosis / Deionization- results in almost pure water.)

I ran the supply line and waste line in the wall, rather than cutting a hole in the countertop.

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Response to X_Digger (Original post)

Tue Mar 19, 2013, 02:22 AM

28. Holey Moley.

That's more that a past time!

Outstanding.


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Response to progressoid (Reply #28)

Tue Mar 19, 2013, 11:54 AM

29. Thanks! Yeah, it's my passion as well. n/t

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Response to X_Digger (Original post)

Tue Mar 19, 2013, 11:56 AM

30. Mad scientist laboratory is done..

Or that's what my wife calls it..



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Response to X_Digger (Original post)

Mon Mar 25, 2013, 12:38 AM

31. Minor update..

We got the knobs installed on the cabinets..





And today I installed some LED rope lighting above the cabinets.

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Response to X_Digger (Original post)

Mon Mar 25, 2013, 11:17 AM

32. Feel free to stray (?) a little off-topic (?) anytime!

Would you and your wife like to do my house next???

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Response to IrishAyes (Reply #32)

Mon Mar 25, 2013, 11:42 AM

33. Hehe! Only if you don't mind it taking six months per room. :) n/t

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Response to X_Digger (Reply #33)

Mon Mar 25, 2013, 06:33 PM

34. That's okay

I got nothing but time. And I mean it!

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Response to X_Digger (Original post)

Tue Mar 26, 2013, 06:53 PM

35. Popular Page!

I showed it to some friends, and we're all agreed that whatever your present profession might be, you could always fall back on home design for a living if the need or wish ever came about.

But you know what blesses me the most? Seeing a couple happily tackle such a herculean task together. Bodes well for your mutual future.

I've had my nose buried in Architectural Digest and home design books and magazines almost since I could read. For retirement I chose a tiny town in the affordable MidWest although I knew the culture shock would be tough. I wanted a place as far north as I could afford, and upper elevation to guard against flood. The town seems to enjoy some protection from tornadoes, probably due to surrounding topography. Tornadoes bear straight down on us and then typically veer off just before barreling through. So far!

But I wouldn't have moved here at all, really, except for winning a hundred-year-old Vic with 'good bones' at auction for $16,500. Those two qualities were about all it had going for it, but I love antiques and challenges. The first 7 years it gobbled up at least another $50K in the first round of complete rehab, and I estimate around $20K more over the years until it's finished. But it will be worth the effort and expense when done. If the housing market's doing well when I die, the charity I've willed it to should see a tidy bequest since I stick to cash and the Amish.

Only after living here several years did I learn one of the main reasons to preserve the place, though. Because I'm blessed with a complete paper trail on the property, I knew the house itself was built around a log cabin erected in 1847. But now I know that original structure was a slave cabin. The grandest house in town is now a museum, and when I took the tour early on, the docent was railing about what happened during an early Civil War battle here.

"That damnYankee captain rode his horse right through the house! The doctor who owned the place was forced into more modest quarters nearby, and those horrible soldiers made this house their headquarters. But when they left, the first thing the doctor did was to have the oak floors refinished, and you can't even see the horses' hoofmarks anymore. Right there where you're standing!"

I looked down at the floor and suffered a sudden, severe coughing fit to cover what was really hysterical laughter. Must've done a good job, because the lady took it in such a sympathetic way that she hurried to bring me water. Since I still hadn't been upstairs yet and didn't want to get kicked out, I couldn't tell her how lucky the slave-holding 'good doctor' had been not to have the place burned down when our blessed damnYankee soldiers were through with it.

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Response to IrishAyes (Reply #35)

Tue Mar 26, 2013, 07:09 PM

36. We *almost* purchased an 1899 victorian in Clenurne instead of this house.

http://www.ebby.com/property/11252650/

We were worried that there would be no good place for the tank without having to shore up the structure of the house before getting started.

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Response to X_Digger (Original post)

Mon Apr 22, 2013, 11:10 PM

37. First 'life' is in the fish room..

.. but it's not what you'd think..

About five weeks ago, I collected some sand, water, and a bit of algae from a tank at a local store, just to mess around with the microscope.



Here are some of the things I found..

amphipod


Baby collonista snails


various nematodes


Even some copepods


Well, I left the sample cup on the back of the counter, in the room light, and I've kept adding a pipette full of RO/DI..

I checked it a while later, and yep, still a lot of life in a 100ml 'micro-pico' tank.



Well, I felt sorry for the critters in this container, so...

I helped a friend move his fish store a couple weekends ago, and he gave me a pico tank and a bag of sand when I told him about my 100ml micro-pico.

So now, it's a 2.5g pico, with a tiny 10w heater and a HOB filter meant for a 10g tank. I've got a 70w equivalent spiral CF bulb over it.



I let it cycle with a pinch of food and some sand from the LFS, then a couple of weeks later, I dumped the contents of the 100ml cup in it.

I set up the microscope cameras to watch it come to life

http://rowelab.com/fish/camera/fugecam.php

In my best mad scientist voice..

IT'S... IT'S.. IT'S ALIVE!

First life spotted on the fuge cams- tiny little nematodes that look like ferrets on crack crawling on boulders.


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Response to X_Digger (Original post)

Tue Apr 23, 2013, 09:39 PM

38. Looks fantastic!

I'm not a reef keeper, lacking the funds/time/expertise, but I AM pea-green jealous!

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Response to X_Digger (Original post)

Sun Jun 30, 2013, 01:32 PM

41. Overdue update...

Life, work, etc have put this project on pause for a while, but things are moving.. albeit slowly.

I've been keeping an eye on the life to be seen through the USB microscopes, and it's quite diverse.

This is a munid isopod


Harpactid copepod


Photosynthetic flatworm


A sample of cyanobacteria


Ostracod




30 seconds of life in the tank- how many different things can you find? (Watch full screen, 480p)

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Response to X_Digger (Original post)

Sun Jun 30, 2013, 02:43 PM

42. Every time I see your setup

I get sooo jealous.

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Response to IrishAyes (Reply #42)

Sun Jun 30, 2013, 02:52 PM

43. D'aww! Start small!

If there's a local marine aquarium club near you, it's a great place to get started.

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Response to X_Digger (Reply #43)

Sun Jun 30, 2013, 07:04 PM

44. Fortunately I traveled widely before retiring

Because my retirement had to be in a remote corner of the wildly xenophobic MidWest, where believe me, the kids leave skid marks as soon as they're old enough to escape because there's nothing here. It has certain redeeming qualities, but a marine aquarium (or club) isn't among them. Neither's a welcome mat for anyone not from the local gene pool - but once again, I think I'm starting to grow on a few people as long as they can resist political assault.

Incidentally, when we lived in SoCal, my son made a Marine World commercial. Everywhere I've lived since, I've hung a small whale toy from the ceiling of the main bathroom over the tub. Fond memories.

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Response to X_Digger (Original post)

Mon Jul 29, 2013, 07:40 PM

45. this is awsome beyond words!

...and SO much freakin' fun to do! Ugh, I envy your energy! I have ambitious redecorating plans for my old house, all on a budget, but all I do is plan - I'm going to have to muster up some energy to actually DO it, though, and right now I'm procrastinating.

But your fish tank, once it's finished and filled - please come back and show us! I used to have a 30 gallon, 20 gallon, and 2 10s back before I had dogs, when I was much younger. I loved fish, and still do. One day I intend to get a nice 50 gallon and start all over. But 280 gallons? Fabulous!

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Response to CitizenLeft (Reply #45)

Mon Jul 29, 2013, 08:53 PM

46. Well, one of the things that put this project on temporary hold..

is this.. http://www.democraticunderground.com/11582055

We had too many plans, not enough time / energy to do them all.

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Response to X_Digger (Reply #46)

Tue Jul 30, 2013, 09:35 PM

47. you are fabulous!

I love the headboard! And I spy a Van Gogh landscape on your wall; I have "Starry Night" hanging in my living room.

I know what you mean about not having enough time. I started so many projects when we first moved into our house that it wore me out. Eighteen years later, I still have a "library" I haven't finished. Too ambitious!

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Response to CitizenLeft (Reply #47)

Tue Jul 30, 2013, 11:24 PM

48. For the bedroom projects, I was the muscle, the wife was the brains.

As long as I have a flat place to sleep and a night stand, I'm good.

I find that breaking down ambitious project into sub-projects really keeps things moving.

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