Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Spleen, Spline, Splenda, So What the Heck's the Difference?

The spleen is an organ located in the upper far left part of the abdomen, to the left of the stomach. Which sounds redundant to me, but maybe it isn't considering what I don't know about interior anatomy.  Which is probably different than interior decorating, unless you were considering painting your spleen.

Hmmh, what color I wonder?

The spleen varies in size and shape between people, but it’s commonly fist-shaped, purple, and about four inches long.  Because the spleen is protected by the rib cage, you can’t easily feel it unless it’s abnormally enlarged.  And that doesn't happen unless it's been punctured by something, which is usually a rib.  Then you can usually feel it.

A lot.

The spleen plays multiple supporting roles in the body.  It acts as a filter for blood as part of the immune system, old red blood cells are recycled there, and platelets and white blood cells are stored there. The spleen also helps fight certain kinds of bacteria that cause pneumonia and meningitis.   Which all sounds pretty splendid to me.

I would like to thank WebMD for that concise description of the spleen, without the additives of course.

Near as I can tell, it's kind of like the appendix.  You do better with it but still live without it.  Not like the liver.  Or brain, heart or big toes.  Can't live without those.

And the nasty bothers, if they do go south they need attention straight away.  Otherwise one turns ashen gray, or can't dance.   

Splenda on the other hand, is a zero calorie sweetener.  Splenda is a trade name for sucralose, a synthetic compound stumbled upon in 1976 by scientists in Britain seeking a new pesticide formulation.  Does that tell you anything?

It is true that the Splenda molecule is comprised of sucrose (sugar) — except that three of the hydroxyl groups in the molecule have been replaced by three chlorine atoms.

What does this mean?  I have no idea.  But it does mean this: No diet drinks for me!

It sounds to me like that little chemical additive will not only not add calories to your diet, but it should also keep most insects out of your intestines.  Or spleen for that matter.  And it sounds like you could use it in your swimming pool, you know, if you wanted to keep the water sweet and algae free at the same time.

For a spectacular write up on the subject, you can check out this site:

That brings us to the main subject of this post, spline.  So what the heck is spline?

Well, if you've ever replaced any screen in a window or door, spline is the round, thin rubbery whatzit that goes in the frame groove and helps straighten the screen as well as attach it to the frame.

Another one of my hundreds of burning projects around here has been screen replacement.  Most of the screens here probably haven't been replaced since they built the house.  Half the damn screens had holes big enough for a Tarantula to fly through.

As if that's what we need, large, flying spiders.  We already have a big enough problem with all those dang flying monkeys.

Fortunately Tarantulas have not yet adapted to flight, but moths the size of Canada have been able to come in and swallow a half dozen cashmere sweaters.  After the last sweater disappeared, I figured it was time to take on the screen project.

This old farmhouse was built in the late 1970's and sits facing almost directly West.  We get lovely sunsets now that I have cleared the view, but that view comes with a price.  On summer afternoons the sun has direct access to the entire front of the house.  It gets hot.

On the positive side, there is good tree coverage on the East and South sides, with the sun not even hitting the structure until late morning.  But after that, Sahara on.

We have two majestic oaks in front, and they do provide a fair amount of afternoon shade to the house, depending on the time of year.  Nevertheless, we made a few great improvements to minimize the sun's heat and impact on these hot summer afternoons.  I mean, a few weeks ago we had a 6-7 day triple digit heat wave.  Who on earth thought that was a good idea?

Speaking of heat, I spent too much time working outside one morning during that wave.  I ended up inside writing with an ice pack on the back of my neck and shoulder.  It helped immensely at cooling me down.  If you're ever stuck outside and have to deal with the heat, here's a great cooling tip I learned many moons ago in my volunteer firefighter days:

Wrap up some ice in a bandana, shirt or whatever and tie it around your neck with the ice on the back of the neck.  Cool that carotid.  You'll be amazed at the difference that can make.  If you're out on a fire line in the middle of no where and don't have convenient access to an ice machine, water works too.

Our second year here we added awnings on the two-second story west facing windows.  Now the sun does not have direct access to either window, and I think we've dropped the internal temperature of those rooms by at least 5 degrees.  Which is good, because I'm sitting behind the 2nd story window on the right most hot summer afternoons.  The awnings also add another aesthetic dimension to the front of the house, if you like aesthetics that is, which I believe I've already covered in my Garbage Depo post.  The two lower windows are the on the side of the garage, not necessary to awn.

Last summer we put up interior blinds in all the bedrooms.  Besides a little privacy, they add a nice sun and heat buffer as well.  And then for the final window treatment, screens.

Almost all the windows are double pane with wood frames that slide vertically.  This means I was able to cover all the glass with screen.  Only the sun room has horizontal sliders, but that's going to be a different screen application anyway.

In doing my screen research I discovered there is a solar screen which will block 70-80% of the sun's heat and glare.  It is a little pricier than regular screen, but since I had nine windows that receive blazing, obliterating, afternoon sun I wanted the benefit of everything I could throw on them.

Most of the existing screen frames were in good condition, but there were a couple arms and legs that needed a little straightening.  A couple others needed to be replaced entirely.

And, as you can see, there was paint and crap all over the original bronze colored frames.  The first step was to find a loose end of the existing spline and dig out the end with my trusty little ice pick.

I use my trusty little ice pick for a lot of things, but never for picking ice and never like Sharon Stone used hers in Basic Instinct

Once an end is free you can usually just pull it right on out.  Sometimes there are a couple sections of spline end to end, so I had to dig in there and get it started again.  After the spline is out, the screen comes away from the groove and frame quite easily.

Then it was time for frame repair.  I was actually able to straighten out a few of the bent frame legs, but a few of them were toast.  Fortunately, I bought a couple extra six foot sections of frame when I picked up the screen.

After measuring, I used a good, old fashioned miter box and hack saw to make my diagonal cuts.


Then it was off to the paint shop, which consisted of a canvas tarp on the driveway.

Then I joined the repaired arms with the little internal 90 degree thing a ma bob.  Thing.


Once the frames were painted and together, it was time to apply the screen and spline.  Two items that are essential when doing this project are these:


One is called an exacta knife, the other is called a: wood and steel screen roller, 2-wheel wood handle screen tool, screen spline roller, professional screening tool, spline roller tool, or, if you're me, a screen roller thingy.  

You must have this tool.  It ranges in price from $5 to $25.  I bought mine for $5.00.  I've replaced a lot of screens so far, and the tool looks like it'll handle a lot more.  I wouldn't spend $25 for this tool unless I was re-screening an entire city block of sky scrapers.

And, if you've ever tried to re-screen a frame with a screw driver and think you're bitchin, forget it.  For five bucks this holy roller will so simplify the process you'll easily forget why you ever thought you were bitchin for using a screw driver anyway.

So then I rolled out the screen and cut it with a couple extra inches to spare.

Once the screen was placed over the channel, it was spline time.  Speaking of which, when I first started the project I bought a bag of spline for $5, primarily to make sure I had the right size.  Yes, there are different sizes of spline just as there are different sizes of pants.  Live with it.  Just make sure you get the correct size before you start.

So anyway, the $5 bag of spline did about a frame and a half.  I found the roll below on line and paid about $20.  There's enough spline on this thing to do that entire city block, if only I had a better screen roller spline thingy. 

I started the new spline at one corner, initially getting it into the groove with my fingers.  Then I got into the groove with a little Tower of Power.  Next I deployed the roller thingy, rolling the spline into the groove, all the while holding some tension on the inside part of the screen so that the groove rolling thing wouldn't make the screen go catty wampus.  By holding tension on the inside, the screen that fed into the groove came from the outer edge. 

Once spline was all the way around, I re-rolled the entire frame, causing the screen in the middle to stretch and become taut.

After that, I cut the excess screen with the exacta blade, just running the tip along the inside edge of the frame. 

Then I did a little touch-up paint and wallah, new screens!  Besides the solar shading aspect of the screen, it has also added an unexpected aesthetic dimension to the color scheme.  There's that aesthetic word again, my middle name.

It is a little darker inside the rooms, but not extreme.  The remainder of the house gets regular screen, which I should finish by the end of the year.  Several other projects have now come front and center, as they always do.  But at least the screens with the most wear and tear have been replaced, with substantially better quality and efficiency.

Guinea Hen Update

And then there were none.  I snapped this shot of Ginnie the Guinea a couple weeks back, just to give you an idea of her prehistoric little albino head before it disappeared.

The night after I took the photo, around 1AM, she started making a commotion.  After the massacre, I am keenly aware of the sounds these birds make.  I was up immediately and switched on the perimeter flood lights.  A pesky deer that was near Chicken Fantasia Land bolted.  I thought I saw another furtive movement inside the chicken's fenced yard, so I got my .22 and went out for further investigation.

Quiet and stealthy, I heard not a sound as I approached.  I saw Ginnie in her companion cage, it appeared she was alive and well.  I didn't see or hear a varmint at all.  I went back to bed.

To my dismay, the door to Ginnie's cage was open the next morning and she was gone.  Poof.  The cage door was not latched, but because of it's wedged in nature it takes a little effort to get it open.  Well, something apparently did, and right next to a Nite Guard solar powered strobe, which is supposed to prevent this sort of attack.

Maybe it was Nick Nolte smoking that silver blue Krylon again.