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Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Casket of Colour

I've been editing/proofing a tonne of different things for different people these last couple of weeks, and during one particularly long document I got to nail painting.

It needs to be said - this is how it's done.
Boom.  Klassy Nails.

We also decided the dogs' toys needed a good clean, and despite much protestation at my taking all of the toys away from the dogs, it was definitely going to happen.  So every room, every corner of the garden and every (known) favourite hiding place was scoured and the lot dumped in the machine with liberal lashings of cleaning products.
Turns out - our dogs are bloody spoilt.  That's a big washing basket, and it is very nearly full.

I trialled making some gluten free Easter cupcakes; my aim was eggs-in-a-nest, but we ran out of icing sugar, so I had to use the left over macaron berry icing to stick the eggs in.  End result - kind of poo...ish.
I blame the coconut.  And the lack of my proper icing bags (have been using the trusty fall-back of cut-corner glad bags).  Still - funny.  Aren't the wee speckled eggs cute?!  They're actually raisins, covered in chocolate and then candy-coated.  Cute!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Clutch of Care Packages

Last week I sent some lovin' to various people around the..southern hemisphere, for various reasons; and it was fun.

Fun things and weird things and eating things and comfort things and awesome!  So much awesome!

I ransacked my Nans' stock of tissue paper (and no where near made a dent in it) and a bit of my Mum's wrapping paper stock, and of course some gorgeous floral writing stationary.
That box was the biggest/most epic and going to an old friend busting her way through the final Dark Months of her PhD in Aussie.  The rule is one wee package for every fail/commiseration/celebration/inspiration/world-hating event.  I didn't even fit in all the win I wanted to, but I was scraping the barrel of boxes-for-postage as it was. (no peaking at the left side photo!).  I'm hoping it will lessen the misery, at least a tiny bit.

As such (reusing old boxes) I went the brown paper packages tied up with string rout for sending.  Have I said before how much I love wrapping and giving presents?! (yeah ok - every Christmas).
The lady in the post shop was delighted and was very careful putting the postage stickers on straight, it was very cute.

In delightful happenstance (its my favourite word for the week) a package arrived for me, from another old friend, over the weekend.

Easter win, perhaps the best mug ever (ok, at least top 10; I'm not sure if you can top drinking out of Santa's scalped head) and home-made chutney.  What a Domestic Goddess, is The Bustling Metropolis One.

Love!

This week is full of win.  And it's Easter on Friday - which means an influx of family.  Its going to be a crazy weekend.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Shoe

Last week, my lovely mother took me shopping in Tauranga in the hope that, should I ever get a job - I would have a couple of things to wear to start.  Firstly, of course, we stopped for Devonshire tea, with which my pot came out with the best tea cozy ever:
Isn't it gorgeous?!

And then - we did find: the most beautiful pair of shoes ever.

I tried on the 41 and it was too tight (as I knew it would be) so the lovely lady got on the computer to see if anyone in the country still had a 42; the computer then told her that she had one out the back, and that at first look for 'the biggest size' she must have missed it.

Oh happy day.

So these, dear lovlies, are my beautiful shoes:
Good shoe, good dog.

In the middle of that night, one of the dogs got a bit...bored. (Not.  My.  Dog.).  I had only taken them out of the box to try on again (how can you resist?) and to show Dad.  I then went to bed.

Big Mistake.

Dad was up first and found it on the lawn: I was so angry I gave myself an asthma attack.  I don't think Mum has spoken to her dog since (the little bugger never dares touch her shoes).

I figure that's about right for my luck, but the end of the story is something you wouldn't believe.

We thought we'd try the in-house cobbler for a repair job, first, and Mum dropped them in, in Tauranga, on the way up north for the weekend.  She got a phone call from the store owner this morning - she is going to replace the pair for free, and courier them over.

Never again shall I be anything other than happy for my Mother's penchant for beautiful (expensive) shoes and her subsequent (epic) store history.

I am completely blown away.  My luck tends towards the hilarious, rather than the happy.  Midnight laundry floods, roaming goats and chewed shoes.  What sublime happenstance.
In. Dog.  Box.

Monday, March 25, 2013

A Goat

Oh yeah.  My life, baby.  My.  Life.

Its been a weird couple of weeks.  Apparently someone on the spit was given a kid for Chrissie...

Ok, background - this is Ohope, a wee settlement on a spit of sand blocking Ohiwa Harbour:

And this is the kind of 'kid' I mean:

Right, so - urban legend has it that someone was given a kid for Chrissie and they abandoned it when they either a) left Ohope after the Chrissie hols, or b) stopped chasing it down every time it escaped and told no one about it.

Not too smart.

Anyway - so there has been a, now very large, goat roaming around the spit, feasting on peoples flower gardens and leaving mysterious piles of scat on dead lawns and decking, alike.  (dead lawns due to drought, not the scat).  Many a phone call were answered hearing "I think I saw a goat!  A GOAT! On your lawn!".

The horror.

I thought it was cute, and when Mum pronounced it male, named him Billy Elliot.  (Ooooh, The Wit!).  So we put out a bucket of water and I gave him bread (ok; and a carrot and maybe a hotcross bun with marg and jam...) in the hope that if he was indeed half tame, eventually we could catch the little bugger.  Apparently Animal Control had tried once, got 'em cornered whence he started throwing himself against the plate glass doors, and they had to let him go.

Eventually the residents converged with two ute's worth of Animal Control people and he made the mistake of fleeing into a (very high) fenced-in yard.  Bye bye Billy.

Here's the kicker - Billy Elliot was a girl.  I shall never again trust my Mothers goat sexing ability.

We saw Belly Elliot advertised in the paper last week, up for sale.  The parents did not take kindly to my suggestion that we buy her back.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Job Interview Questions of Doom

I like being prepared for things, it's just who I am.  Illustrated by my hate of travelling with backpacks, instead of suitcases.  A backpack implies drifting, packing up at a moments notice and moving on.  A suitcase to me signifies planned events, knowledge of moving-on date, calm organisation.  Try organising your things in a pack, I dare you.

Anyway;  (random segue, travel is totally on my mind) The job interview typically contains Questions Of Doom, to weed the losers from the winners, as I'm sure everyone knows by now.  My preparation for job interviews includes significant research via both internet and brain-picking of friends who have 'gone before'.  I've had a couple of peeps ask what questions I've had, in turn, and thought I'd pop that shiz in a handy dandy list for future reference.

My own prep-list was quite a bit longer, and I physically wrote in answers to everything.  Thus if you actually get asked on the day, you don't have that moment of panic - oh my god what do I say where do I start.  But I have cut out the job-specific questions here, and more than likely you are prepared to answer that sort of thing already.

It's probably worth noting too, that no matter how much preparation you do, they are still highly likely to throw you a curve ball; I know when I am in the position to be interviewing people in the future - I will be trying my darnedest for the sneaky curve balls.  And, most likely - I've missed out some crackers.  Feel free to hit me up with some sticky QOD lurking in your past, if you like.

In no particular order.

1. Tell us about a time you've had to deal with conflict and how you felt with it?

If you hate dealing with conflict, that is ok too - just know responsible strategies for dealing - like delegation, or having a mediator to handle the sticky stuff.

2. How would your best friend describe you?

This one is my most dreaded (and experienced).  I've never asked any friends to describe me!  But incidentally - I'm good with words, so email me, my lovelies, and I'll describe you, no sweat.  At least you'll be prepared!

3. What do you think will be challenging to you in this position?

4. Tell us your plan, what would you do in the first three months? First year?

Don't stress too much here, you are obviously allowed, and expected, to earmark time in there for learning/settling in.  Its always good to start a new thing with a goal in mind though, and no one wants a lay-about straight off the mark.  Things like becoming fully confident and competent with company rules, processes and regulations, developing trust and reliance within the team etc are all important too.

5. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?  10 years?

As for question 4, I don't honestly think anyone expects you to have your life planned out in significant detail.  I figure this question is basically asking: "do you plan on quitting this job any time soon, if we give it to you?"

6. What has been your most disappointing experience?

7. What are your strengths?


8. What's your biggest weakness?  

The Veined One tells me Stephen Fry suggests you avoid the cliché answer of 'perfectionist'.  I'd suggest being honest, and avoiding the deliberate humble-brag.  If you have to be sneaky or lie to get a job, I doubt you're the kind of person who would care to read this list anyway.  Or my ramblings, for that matter.  Trust in your mad skillz, yo!  And everyone is allowed weaknesses, you just have to know how to work around them.


9. What do you consider your greatest achievement in life?

10. What motivates you?

11. What do you think about team work? Are you a team player?

The significance of this question changes with the role - will you actually be working in a team, or will you need to be fine with spending long hours isolated and self-motivated?

12. How would you handle a tough boss/client whom you think is being unreasonable?

13. Can you give me an example of your multi-tasking ability?

14. Can you handle pressure at work? How do you deal with it?

15. Do you prefer working independently or do you require constant supervision?

16. What do you expect to gain from this job?

17. How would my previous experience be an asset to the company?
-----------
Some of the questions are obviously hinting towards the answer wanted, like number 15.  And you're a smart thing, so I'm sure you know to try and make your answers relevant.  If your greatest achievement in life is to grow 5cm long big toe hair, then firstly - big ups, that's amazing!, second - perhaps pretend your second greatest is first, just for the interview.

Always, always have some questions prepared to ask them at the end (prior, company research!).  And try your hardest, even if the Skype connection keeps dying.

And remember that you will still most likely make a fool of yourself over one question, at least.  But the odds are you will notice it more than they, and a bit of nerves is expected.  And finally - I doubt anyone by now has worked out how to tell what the interviewers thought of you, so go do something random (like bake Kermit macarons) to distract yourself, it is now out of your hands.

On Repeat

Oh god, get out of my brain!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

My Quilt is Quilted!

Picked it up on Tuesday after SPCA, turns out our worries about the ruching on the crazy side were needless, it's looking amazing.
The pattern is a leaf vine (I didn't want extra flower shapes girling it up, and we exhausted the koru-theme on BigSib's epic kiwi-quilt).

The quilting is actually done in bright green thread, and is fabulous.  It's amazing how invisible it can be on the floral side.

Now it only needs binding, the pretty bright, but deep, blue fabric for which The Mother Dearest picked up in Tauranga the day-of-the-flood.

I...just can't wait for it to be finished.  I am feeling, dare I say it, quite proud.

This has been a project, a very long time coming (2-3 years), and requiring some epic number of hours, and patience.

Hang tight for a final instalment in this quilt-journey, once I give TMD enough puppy-dog-eyes to have her bind it.

Win!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Macarons Baby, Yeah

So I jumped on that wagon.  I have, up till now, been pretty much too terrified to even try, due to the wonderful NSHP's epic efforts back in 2010.

But then Bridget had a go, and made it look less scary.

So, because that's how I roll (Pfft, who follows instruction manuals?!) - I jumped in and tweaked as I went.  My first batch were pink, and had caramel centres.  And, I think, had the best feet out of all my efforts so far.
The first couple of rows of this batch were under mixed, and looked like meringue (even the fails are freaking delicious) and I did not draw circles on the underside of my baking paper, so the shapes were all over the place.  And of course, my piping was sloppy - I was expecting it to pipe like royal icing since that's what I am used to dealing with.

Second batch were blue, with a coffee flavoured centre.  This batch I had better, even baking, and less losses (most of the first batch were macawrong (fist-bump, Ms Humble): toasted brown, shattered, hollow etc etc.  This batch was better, but still not great - they had concave bottoms, which meant an excess of delicious coffee flavoured icing.  However, for this cookie - less is more.  The last photo has ruined colour due to the window in the background.  My bad.

The third batch (all this is spread over 2 weeks, mind) was green, with a fabulous raspberry jelly icing.
Better bottoms, better even-heat on top, and smaller circles.

The piping of the batter was interrupted by the builder, and the batter was a bit loose. They also needed longer drying time, to avoid those cracked tops.  But - I think I have my oven position sorted now - one tray at a time, bottom of the oven, door cracked open, not too cool an oven.  Will try with a double-tray sitch next time, to get better feet, too.  And bench-tapping, for bubbles.  You can see the difference baking makes to the colour in this batch.

I have decided there is too much egg in my egg:almond ratio as well, which should help with my lack of height, and slight over-spreading.

I'll be trying again once this lot is eaten.

New favourite biscuit!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Ickle Brother, Bees & the Motherland

The last w/e of the BigSib's visit was spent in the glorious Hawkes Bay with the Mother, Father, Nana, BigSib+Fiancé, Ickle Brother and his gf, and of course - me.

Some background - I and BigSib were born in the HB and moved back there when I was finishing my primary schooling.  I was a day girl at the illustrious Iona College and attended for a full 7 years culminating in dux (Hah! You thought I wouldn't bring that up?!) and the parents moving away a year or two after I moved down to Dunedin for University.

Mum & Dad drove the truck, and BigSib+ Fiancé, The Nana and I took The Nana's car.  For some unfathamable reason I ended up doing all the driving, which was fine - but we chanced upon Taupo at the same time as the Iron Man contestants were cycling down the main road.  Not.  Cool.

Well, cool for them (big ups, you crazy devils), but absolutely sucky for the drivers.  There wasn't really any place for a detour, so we had a tense and dangerous trip from the coffee shop to the Napier-Taupo road.

And since its been brought up (how convenient)  the coffee shop has some very kitschy lights shades; that's a big hunk of pumice with a bulb chillin' in the middle. Ooo....kay...

The Ickle Brother is a bee keeper, and has started amassing his own bee army.  Soon after we arrived, he showed us the hives he keeps in his back yard and filled BigSib with a plethora of bee knowledge and bee hebejebies (I call chicken!).  I was filled with a surprising nostalgia for the old lab (which has had its webpage updated, finally!  Lovely.  Ok - nostalgia gone :P).

Hah.

Moving on.  The Ickle Brother's gf works at Arataki, also - in the amazing information centre/shop, and is a fount of knowledge about a mass of products.  The full taste-testing station is neat, and I reaffirmed my knowledge that Thyme Honey is my favourite.  BigSib left with a full 2kgs of Manuka to take back to London with the both of them, the allowance limit.

The building remains the typical HB artdeco monolith that it has always been, and you are greeted with a brilliant giant bee model as you come in.

The info centre has several live bee colonies and a couple of labelled queens.  Its pretty cool.

So apart from the bee extravaganza, we visited old haunts in Havelock North, did a drive-by of the old school, wandered around the shops in Napier and marvelled at the new mega-"malls" (and subsequent empty shop-fronts mid-town) in Hastings.  We swam, and we went up Te Mata Peak.
The BigSib's Fiancé, BigSib, me (middle child syndrome fo' life yo), and the Ickle Brother.  (18 months between girls, 5 years between me and the baby).

It was crazy seeing how much things have changed, I hadn't been back in close to a decade (I think I popped back to visit my teachers a couple years out...), but for certain - Jackson's Bakery in Havelock Nth is still the best I have ever seen.  Blue Cheese and Steak Pies?!  Win.

We came home with a boot full of golden queen peaches and omega plums.  Its not often we get all the kids together these days.

Video win

Have been sorting out my Reader sitch  this morning, since Google has decided to abandon me.  Am giving Feedly a go, but am open to suggestion, should anyone have any.

Amongst my sweet new categories and beautiful organisation, these two videos of win popped up:

Full of sneaky topical jabs:
And shear awesome:
Came for the Leviosaaaaaaa, stayed for the giggles.  Very well stitched together.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Water water everywhere

And not a drop to drink.

Ok, first - Nooooooooooooooooooooooo!  Google how could you do this to me?!

Second - Ooo! Feedly is pretty!

Bandwagon heyhooooo!

Ok, so today has been pretty epic.  A water pipe burst in the ceiling at about 3am, and created a new swimming pool in the laundry; leaking under the wall into my room, and all the carpet surrounding, and gushing out through the light fixture over the washing machine.

I had a Skype job interview today (really appreciated the full 3.5 hours of sleep I did get last night) so Mum arranged for the builder and plumber to come after, and I just shut the door against the constant dripping (despite the water being off at the mains) and pretended there was no risk for my being electrocuted.

Good times.

The builder ripped off the ceiling and the plumber replaced the original black piping, which had split - and all the rest, just in case.  'Cause knowing our luck we'll dry out the wood and the next section of old pipe will go.  I'm thinking they should have done it when they refurbished the upstairs bath... Naughty plumber.


The builder then ripped out the rest of the ceiling and some of the wall gib, since it needs to dry out, supposedly 2-4 weeks, but it has dried out in today's heat remarkably already, so I don't think it'll take a full 2 weeks even.  And Dad woke up pretty quickly, so it could have been a lot worse.  Mum is cleaning and mourning her beautiful laundry as I write, "it'll never be the same!"  Unfortunately most likely true.  There are dents/cuts in the lino from either the gib cutting device or unprotected ladder legs, and the paint work is obviously up the creek.  We shall have to see - maybe the plasterers will do a beautiful job...

Today was also the day The Father was due to have a pre-cancerous naughty bit of rubbish cut out from beside his eye, so him and Mother Dearest left very early to get over to Tauranga in time for an early surgery, and left me in peace and quiet for my interview.  None of us got any sleep past 3am.  And Dad now has a sweet below-eye patch.  Heh.

There were no showers or...toilet flushing this morning.  That was...interesting.  (I have a separate bathroom, so it was fine, really).

Yay for chaos!  It never rains but it pours.  (topical humour! Drought! Burst pipe! Feeling guilt for all the water swept out that back door... Twenty days, Wellington - Twenty.  Days.).

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Easter Craft: Pinterest semi-FAIL

I'm sure the world is aware by now of what Pinterest is, and most have first hand experience of how inspiring/addictive/soul-crushing it can be.  For the uninitiated, it is basically a scrapbook for cool shit you find on the net - things you want to try, inspiration, design and the obligatory cute cat photos.
Get candy into Easter eggs - put small easter eggs in a balloon, inflate, wrap string and glue, dry, pop the balloon ja you have a string egg with a chocolate egg inside!

It is fairly famous for inspiring people to try recipes and crafts found on it - and failing spectacularly.

Of course, despite the overwhelming evidence, one tends to attempt crafts thinking they cannot be so stupid as to fail.  But failing is fun.

So I wanted to try making these, egg-filled string-cage eggs for Easter decoration.  No promises as to that being the original source, I have seen the same images used in different tutes, so who freaking knows.

Basically - stretch a balloon around your filler-eggs, blow-to-size, and then...

Well.  Different methods.

First I had two wee bowls full of slightly watered down PVA and colouring, in which I soaked pieces of string.  I then pulled out the pieces of string, flicking coloured glue about the kitchen, and this is impossible to avoid - fyi; perhaps a better activity for the outdoors (and obviously one for when the parents are out of town for the w/e...heh). However - turns out you need a metric fucktonne of string to get decent coverage on one palm-sized egg, especially if you don't want the shit in the middle falling out.  So I had to use both blue and orange string batches, which, of course, combined into poo-brown and stained my hands something beautiful.
I let this poo coloured egg-of-easter-joy set overnight and popped the balloon the next day.  It was exceptionally flimsy and well...poo-coloured.  You pop the balloon and work it out from under the string.  Of course you have to work the inner-eggs out from the balloon rubber as well.  This version was so rubbish the whole lot came out, so I did it externally and pushed that shit back in after.  Like a reverse birth.

Ok, well - I found the experience hilarious.

My second attempt I diverged from instruction.  The only tutes I could be bothered finding, had the above soak-and-flick method, or alternatively a spray with plastic adhesive one.  I was doing this on a zero budget and blowing through both Mums craft and Dads woodworking PVA stocks, so I was feeling pretty happy with the PVA method.

Anyway - second attempt I mummy-wrapped those suckers (half a spool of cotton string, much?!) and dunked the lot in a barely-watered-down, colourless PVA mix.  I then hung them in the sink to dry, on an ingenious set-up of tupperware struts and bbq tongs, with a second PVA dunking awhile later.

This worked wonderfully for a couple, and failed mightily for the middle, black balloon one.

Too much glue = the bitchin' balloon ceases being a balloon and becomes a plastic liner - solidly glued to the string.

My other fail (in a final batch) involved the bloody balloon deflating overnight, causing the string egg to look like a mutant string...rock...poo...thing.

This one was actually my favourite.  How can you not love the most ugly, pathetic version of any clutch of eggs/people/animals/material goods?!  I don't think I have a specific photo, but regardless, that special egg is being sent to a favourite person for Easter fail-win-cheer.  Yay!
Weak poo-brown on top in pride of place (not due at all to its flimsy nature resulting in crushing should it be anywhere else), and shrunken rock-egg on the right.

If I was to try this again (highly unlikely, lets be honest) I would do a single dunking in watery PVA, let dry, remove the godamn balloon and then dunk again for structural integrity.  And I would use coloured string (since no colour will stick post-pva, and fuck finding the acrylics in this massive house) and have nothing rolling about in the middle.  So it would be decorative egg only, since I think a heavy-duty Stanley knife might be required to break out the chocolate from these babies.  I also think this would be a fabulous way to make lightshades on a budget, but then I think many have thought the same before me...

Monday, March 11, 2013

Everyone's a Critic: A Good Day to Die Hard

Cheap Tuesdays apparently exist for the wee Whakatane theatre too, albeit with restrictions.  Went to see A Good Day to Die Hard with the Father, BigSib+ Fiancé.  Perhaps a few SPOILERS, but really - what is there to give away that you were not already expecting?!
A Good Day to Die Hard (2013) Poster
Firstly - yay.  I love this ridiculous shit.  Don't even get me started on their impressive clearing of the radiation at Chernobyl.  Hilarious.

You have to admit there is a fair amount of class involved in flipping the bird to a villain flying a helicopter into a building to kill you, as you jump out of it.  I was giggling at least every 10 minutes (totally had the urge to clap my hands in ridiculous glee at some points) and I think I kept the BigSib entertained since her taste in movies usually tends towards the rubbish end of the scale (RomComs.  Urgh).

The movie starts with Brucie rushing off to see why his son has made his way into jail in Russia, when it turns out he is planted by the CIA.  He basically mucks up his mission and then ends up helping the son to get the dude out of the country and finding out on the way that he is double crossing people left right and centre.

In the end, everyone dies except the father/son McClane duo, who strut off into the middle distance to go back to retirement/being a spy.  A profession of which Daddy does not approve, by the way.  Because of course blowing shit up should always be done overtly, not covertly.  I shudder to imagine the clean-up cost of the carnage they leave behind them.  But then, the world is once again saved from nuclear bombs in the hands of unscrupulous people...not associated with a recognised government....or a government with 'good' intentions...ok I don't know how to set that one up.

But - the son, fairly yum.  Saw him as the baddie in Jack Reacher and thought at the time he would make a far superior Jack than bloody Tom Cruise, if they could age him a bit; but he makes a lovely McClane son, so that's all good.  Pretty good jokes, sprinkled about.


Definitely my kind of movie.

4.5 out of 5 (where: 1=actively burning it, 2=waste of time, 3=don't regret having seen it, but... 4=good movie, recommended, 5=blewmymindwhyhaven'tyouseenityetI'vegottoseeitagaintalktoyoulater).

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Retro Temporary Kindle Cover

The BigSib invested in a Kindle when she was home, since it made no difference in price (worldwide).  She wanted to wait till she returned to the UK to get a case, however, since she claims them superior over there (very likely true), so to protect it I whipped up a wee padded case for her to use in the mean time.

Mum's sewing room is a magical cave of fabric and bits & bobs and I used some fabric left over from our childhood dress-making days, random elastic and cut-offs of quilt batting.
Is that not the most beautiful fabric you have ever seen?!

Did it in less than an hour and with no pattern (barely any plan...) so lets forgive the judging on my lazy white thread.  Mum's machine is just so much more effort to re-thread than mine...

In retrospect (Ha! retro!) there's nothing really 'temporary' about this impromptu project...but then it is only good for storing, and not at all for holding.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

BigSib & Quilt-era-end

BigSib and her fiancé were visiting last week, back in the country from London to renew visas, which were duly renewed - in case you were on tenterhooks in worry.  Pretty crazy week, and we all road tripped down to Hawkes Bay to visit the little brother and old haunts, last weekend - more on that later.

The pair of them opened the left over bits and bobs from Chrissie that were never sent over to the UK, and then the quilt.  Somehow they managed to fit it in amongst their over-packing and upon returning to Christchurch (his family), it was introduced to their schnauzer; Harry.

I think he approves.

In other quilt news, mine is in for final quilting, with the diagonals on the crazy side having caused warpage and potential 'squaring' problems, will see just how bad when it is finished.