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First off, my sincerest condolences to those affected in Japan by the myriad of disasters currently afflicting them. The chances of an earthquake here are so small as to be of little concern. Here the disaster would be tornadoes. In the past couple of days I’ve been reflecting on how fortunate my life is in the context of the disaster in Japan. Even if a tornado did come through and wipe out the entire town, my job is twenty minutes away; it would still be there. Alternative housing would not be a problem. Food, water, etc. would be just a credit card charge away. Even if my car blew away with the house, there’s always a rental company. The poor folks in northeast Japan have none of this; it’s heartbreaking to witness their plight and to know that I am all but helpless to assist.

I hope something goes right for all of them very soon.

Now that I have that off my chest, time for an update on the house (finally). I bought an oak mantel off Craigslist this past fall. It’s been in the basement in pieces and partially stripped (as purchased) ever since. Since the weather has taken a turn for the better, I’ve started the task of stripping off the five or six coats of paint from the rest of the pieces. Luckily, all of the glue joints were loose so it will be ten times easier to get the paint off because I can deal with each piece separately.