Here we are already, ten days has passed in the home project. It's actually going pretty well yet, and we're still ahead of schedule. Of course they're predicting monstrous rain storms again tomorrow night, so hopefully I won't be back out cleaning up the streets after another 2" rain...
Pat spent this weekend digging the foundations and setting up forms for them. I had to leave town Saturday morning, and I had some concerns as the boards he had set up Friday night were too high and not quite in the right place. He came back on Saturday and concurred, so he spent all day Saturday making them right.
I got back in town Sunday to find everything in it's right place. The elevations were right on and he had caught his mistake in the length of the garage as well.
I'm used to checking the work of contractors, I do it all the time at 3M, it's about 50% of my job there. I've been making a real effort to only go out there after he's gone though and double check all his measurements, nobody likes to have someone looking over their shoulder all day just looking for mistakes. So far, he's been far above average in terms of not making mistakes, so I've been pretty happy.
Yesterday he cleared out part of what will be the new driveway. Clearing that out really helped visualize what it's going to be like, you now have a straight line of site into the work area from the road.
He cleared that out so that the cement truck would have somewhere to park when pouring the foundations. I think the plan is to get the inspector out as soon as he's available (which should be today or tomorrow), then pour the foundations as soon as they're approved. Once those set, he can get the forms in for the walls and pour them next. It's going to start looking like a structure soon!
With the bulk of the driveway dirt cleared, I was also able to shot some elevations to see where we're at. We actually have more slope left on the driveway than I thought. we should have about 15" of elevation from the street up to the floor of the new garage, which is great, I was concerned that the slope would be near zero and we might have some drainage issues.
On to more pressing issues, bikes. Despite how busy I've been, I'm still making progress in the shop. I finished up three repairs this week, and I've been re-arranging things down there to make room for when we have to cut the new entry door into the basement.
I did a dropout repair on a Klein road bike this week, the owner had an extreme case of bad luck, and an extreme case of poor customer service from Klein and her dealer. Her chain started coming apart without her knowledge, the side plate was separating from the pin. It wasn't enough to break the link (yet), but unfortunately it was enough to catch on the rear derailleur as she was standing up pedaling. It bent the derailleur and the derailleur hanger on the frame pretty bad. Klein still uses that awful, pile-of-crap rearward facing dropout that Gary developed in order to make rear wheel changes much more difficult. As a bonus to this already horrible dropout design, the hanger is extra weak as it has to angle backwards and add length to get the derailleur in the proper position with respect to the axle.
Seriously I would have hoped that when Trek bought Klein that they would have enough common sense to take Gary Klein out back and beat some sense into him. Maybe his bikes are flashy and look neat, but these dropouts are junk, plain and simple.
I'm getting off-track here, OK, back to the repair. So this customer went to Klein and asked if they would warranty it, which they would not. I do agree that this isn't really a manufacturing defect, it was bad luck (with the help of some really bad dropout design), but I would have expect them to offer some kind of help. The best they would do is offer her a replacement frame for $950, which is like $25 off retail for these things. Not exactly helpful.
Her dealer wouldn't touch it either. That part I really don't understand. They simply told her it was unfix able because it was aluminum. end of story. Well, I'm not one to go through the streets touting the repair-ability of aluminum, but this was just a little bit of tweaking on a dropout. The hanger was bent about 10 degrees, and the threads were stripped out of the hanger. The frame was considered junk at this point, so what is there to lose by at least trying to fix it for the customer? I don't know. I spent about 20 minutes and got her a new derailleur and chain and the thing works as good as new. Will it last forever? probably not, but I bet it will last 5-10 years, which is probably longer than the typical life of a frame like this anyways. And I only had to charge about an hour's labor and a few replacement parts.
Her dealer could have had a lifetime customer I bet if they had even made an effort, instead they have someone who will never go back there. That seems to really be the trend around here with bike shops, they don't actually fix anything anymore. All they want to do is sell new parts, bike have become disposable to them (along with your income). It really amazes me how many people come to me with things that would have been repaired in a bike shop 15 years ago, but today customers can't find any bike shop that will touch them. Apparently service is a thing of the past in bicycle retailing, it's all about sales now. I must not see the big picture or something....
Isn't that always the case... we-sadly-live in a disposable society where nearly everything is made to be bought at some Walmart price point, used for a minute or two (three, if you're lucky) and then placed next to the other shit at the curb for pick up to the landfill. That's the exact reason why building something by hand has become such an "underground" non-mainstream craft. On top of that... you have the general public assumption that handmade, custom or whatever is expensive because they've been brainwashed into all the cheap shit they've been buying, using and discarding for so long. They cannot possibly get past the "PRICE!!". BTW, Klein bikes have got to be one of the most amazing marketing deals EVER... all looks and not much else. Kinda like C-Dale's, except C-Dale sorta got their shit together-to a degree-over the years. Gary Klein is huckster... a huckster laughing all the way to the bank (especially now that Trek bought him out). Klein might have offered that poor girl $950 for a new frame... but the actual breakdown is more like $910 for the slick paint job and $40 for the frame. Their slogan should be... "Klein-Proof that turds can be polished" -Me
Clearly, Mr. Brown, you're just not "getting" that dropout. It is #8 on the top-ten list of what makes Klein bikes superior to other bikes. Why do I even try with you - you still make frames out of - bah! - steel. At least, I hope you do, because I WANT MY NEW BIKE! :)
Well it happened again last night, another incredibly showing of rain. I just don't get it, the weather has become an all-or-nothing proposition around here this summer. It's either bone dry or just pouring rain.
We got about 1.5" of rain last night, starting at about 12:30 am. I mean really what are the odds of two rainfall events like that within the not-quite two week period since we opened this huge hole in our front yard? Actually the huge hole is slightly less huge this morning, mother nature took the liberty of doing some of our back filling work for us.
I took this picture this morning, fortunately it's all sand so it dries out really fast. However at 1am this morning when I was up looking, the entire middle of our new garage was under water. It was pretty much a complete lake. You can see water inside the forms for the walls that Pat set yesterday, not to mention just how much sand filled in around the footings. Yes, that's a 5-gallon bucket, and yes it was sitting on top of the grade before the rain.
Unfortunately it also back filled around the forms, so Pat will end up having to dig those out. It was really remarkable just how quickly everything eroded in the deepest trench.
The good news is that Pat had gotten the footings all poured yesterday, and the concrete for those was set-up before the rain came. Hopefully they're fine and he's only out a little bit of digging time.
He certainly moved fast, the inspector came yesterday morning to check the footing forms, he approved them, and Pat had them poured before I got home. This guy really moves. In addition to pouring the concrete, he went and picked up all the forms, unloaded those and got them halfway set-up for the walls. I was kind of surprised how labor intensive the forms are to set-up. They all bolt together with about 20,000 bolts, then need to be removed in sections once the concrete is poured. I'm starting to see why those leave-in-place insulating forms have become so popular these days, they certainly would save a bit of labor.
There didn't appear to be much sand that flowed out into the street this time, that's good. I did notice that the remaining sand in the street from last time had flowed into a nice pile, looks like I'll have to get out there with the wheel barrel again. All in all, things don't look as bad this time considering how bad the storm was. No downed trees, didn't lose power, and no major damage to anything.
On the plus side, these big storms are caused by a cold air mass passing through the sweltering hot air we had, so that means cooler temps. Hooray! Might even be able to turn off the a/c now and open the house back up.
Looking good! Look at it this way... all the gremlins are getting worked out right now with the weather & construction so after the work is finished up you'll be good to go for many years of eventless living. At the very minimum you'll probably not see flames shooting out of manhole covers and storm drains. Every storm has its rainbow. ;-] -Me
Ok, I know it's been a few days since I posted anything, but tough. I've been busy.
Things are looking really good on the house. Pat's been hard at work all week, and the concrete forms are all up and he's nearly ready to pour. Actually he's right outside my window as I type this putting the finishing touches on the forms. If this were radio you'd hear the pounding of nails, and the explosion of the concrete anchor gun. Too bad for you, you're probably hearing peaceful silence as you read these words on a screen....
This one is the view from the back. As you can see, all the forms are up and braced. It's starting to look like a garage, and based on me going down in there last night to double check dimensions, it's starting to feel like a garage inside of it! This is big excitement when you've been looking at a pile of dirt and just a big hole in your front yard for a few weeks.
And here's the view from the front. He's got the header for the garage door in place, as well as the framing for the sides of the opening. If the garage door opening looks a little low to you, it should. The concrete won't be coming up to the top of the form on that opening, it'll be about a foot below the top edge.
Pat, being who he is, is always thinking ahead. He went ahead and put electric boxes in the forms for me for outside lights, so they'll be in-bedded in there and fully recessed. He just run an empty conduit out so I can run the wiring later.
So the plan is to pour the walls tomorrow, which is very exciting, however I'll be flying to NJ tomorrow. Dammit, I have to miss the best part. He's bringing in two concrete pumper trucks to place the concrete in the forms, which I'm sure will be impressive to see in our little yard. I'm also sure all the neighbors will be out watching. I'll be missing it all. Just my luck. At least I'll be back to see all the framing, that's probably more important anyways, so I can make sure all the windows and doors are placed properly.
In shop news, I got some lug carving done this weekend. I'm working on the next nature-inspired frame, for a different customer. It's looking good so far, I don't have any pictures right now, I should soon.
I picked up a little tool to try out on them that seemed to work pretty good for certain spots. It's called a body saw, anyone who works in auto body will know what I'm talking about. It's a little air-powered jig saw for cutting thin metal. It gets in reasonable small spots for roughing out lugs cutouts. It has a pretty limited utility in my shop, but for the specific things I use it for, it's great. I'm actually thinking about trying to modify one to take a jewelers saw, which might be really neat, but I suspect it moves too fast for the really thin blades of a jeweler's saw.
Alright, it's time to call it a night and get off this computer, I should have company coming over soon.
Ok, this time it's honestly been a really, really long time since I've updated this. I was out of town all of last week, and to be honest, at this point I'm just trying to recover from that.
I had what was without a doubt the worst week at our New Jersey plant that I've ever had. And those of you that know how bad some of those trips have been know that means business....
I'm not going to bore you with all the details (trust me they're really boring) but suffice it to say I spent the entire week doing other people's work, putting out big fires and didn't really get to any of my own work. I ended the week being re-assigned three projects from other engineers because they had botched things up so bad... It's amazing how being competent at your job is such a rare skill these days, and equally amazing is how it's rewarded with more work and no more pay. Workin' for the man sucks sometimes.
By Wednesday evening, I had already put in 46 hours at the plant for the week and I had eaten a grand total of 1 meal. I'm not one to skip out on food and sleep, but it was seemingly endless, every time I would turn around there was somebody asking for something new. I simply couldn't escape, even for 20 minutes to grab a sandwich.
To be honest, I was amazed at how good I felt and how much energy I was able to maintain. Things worked as long as I didn't stop. If I sat down for more than about 4 minutes I would start to fall asleep.
I did get an incredible amount accomplished, but I'm now paying the price. I slept for 11 hours Friday night, then another 10 last night. I feel like I'm a week down on meals (which I am), so I'm always hungry. I'm trying to keep things pretty low-key today, I just seem to have run out of ambition. It's all I can do to sit here typing.
I did do a little work in the shop today, but ambition levels waned quickly. Moved a few things out to make room for the new doorway that will soon be cut in there. I spent some time figuring out how I want to run my drain lines out from the new bathroom, still haven't really figured that one out, but I have some good ideas.
Yesterday we made a really big run to Menards. Picked up our new garage door after watching the two most incompetent, half witted high-school boys try to figure out where the hell it was while they simultaneously discussed where to go for lunch. Most of the time the lunch discussion took priority. What should I expect, it is Menards after all. We "saved big money", which tends to not go hand in hand with received good service. We also bought a big chunk of the electrical for the new area and bought the pex tubing for the radiant heat floors. All 1750 ft. of pex tubing! man that adds up fast, it sure doesn't seem like you should need that much for a little addition, but we're putting it in the garage too. It'll be a pile of work placing all that in the new floors, but that's a few days out yet.
As for construction, things are moving along nicely. I came back to town to find the concrete all finished and the forms removed. Pat started on the framing yesterday and he's got a good chunk done. The floor on the new space is all up and they're currently working on framing in walls. Here's a couple of pics, starting with the view from the front yard.
As you can see he's got all the floor trusses in place and the flooring down.
Here's how our new garage is looking. It really feels like a garage now with a roof on it. It's hard to tell from the picture, but it's really deep, should easily fit two cars end to end. I will actually start wiring down there pretty soon, as I'll be pretty out of their way down there.
And here's the back walls going up. What you're looking at here is the wall of the new bathroom (hence the little window). Actually in the amount of time it's taken me to write this, Pat has finished up the rest of the north wall as well. I suspect we may have most of the walls up this afternoon yet, if not, I'm sure by tomorrow.
That just means it's getting to be time for me to do some work. I've got to start electrical and plumbing soon, as soon as I won't be in their way. That way they can get the inspection done and be able to install the insulation. Looks like next week/weekend will be busy!
Alright I'm losing motivation to even type this. Time to go.
Looking good! Man, I can not function without food - I get stupid, tired, and grumpy. My wife and kids are the exact same way (actually the wife is the worst). Things get pretty ugly at home if lunch is late...
I'm doublin' up on entries today. Didn't' have time to write anything yesterday, it was one of those days...
We'll go back to Monday first. Here's the scene:
In his usual display of super-human speed Pat finished up all the walls and sheathing Monday. All the rough openings for the windows are in place and it's starting to look like a house!
I started doing some preliminary wiring stuff in the garage, as I can work down there and not be in his way. Hung boxes for the lights, and did some measuring of what I'll need for conduit and wall boxes.
Tuesday showed even more progress, even faster (how does he do it). By the time I got home from work, all but one of the roof trusses were up. I asked Matt (Pat's brother) how early they started and he said about 1 o'clock. I got home about 3. That's fast. They started putting on the roof sheathing after that, Pat wanted to get the roof up as soon as possible as rain was forecast later on. He said he hasn't had a job yet where the interior floor didn't get wet, and he was hoping to make this the first. I continued on with my electrical down below.
I knew I'd need a hammer drill to make my life easier mounting electrical boxes on the concrete walls down here, but I didn't have one. I checked with my Dad, and realized I completely forgot he had my grandfather's old Milwaukee electric hammer. That thing makes ordinary hammer drills run home crying to their mommies, yes, it's that cool. It's basically a small electric jackhammer with different attachments, including round hole bits. I'd used it before, but I forgot how easy it makes punching holes in concrete. I had the boxes up in no time.
I decided to just drop conduit's down the wall vertically where ever I needed a wall box, then run the wiring feeding them in the ceiling trusses above. It takes less conduit and less work, but looks a little odd. I really didn't want horizontal conduits running all over the walls though, as they can make hanging things on the wall troublesome.
About 7 I had run out of a couple of items and I knew I needed some plumbing stuff, so a shopping run was in order. Pat kept going on the roof, trying to beat the rain.
On the way to the store, the sky's opened up in yet another crazy heavy rainfall. Honestly we don't usually get this kind of rain here, but I am doing a house addition, so all the rules go out the window. By the time we got out of the store the rain had let up, but not until we got .75" of wet stuff. We went home, unsure if Pat would be soaked. We got there to find them madly putting up the last section of roof, so much for this being his first time with a dry floor on new construction...
I helped them with the last of the roof sections, then got out some lights so they could finish up the work. Here's how it looks this morning:
Pretty well framed in, he's got a little trimming to do on the roof, but not much. I'm going to try and beat him home today, so I can get up in the attic of the existing house and cut my access panel a bit bigger before he roofs over it.
Here's the view inside looking towards the street:
It's really starting to look and feel like a house now. The big windows off the front are going to be great. I was a bit unsure when we bought them, but now seeing the rough openings, I'm glad we went big.
Here's the view looking towards the back of the lot. You can see the remains of the wall between this room and the kitchen, and the area that will be out laundry/bath. Pretty exciting eh?
I'm hoping pat will finish up the roof sheathing and carpentry tonight maybe, then I'll have more room to wire up here. This room should go pretty quick as it's pretty straightforward residential stuff. It's the plumbing in the bath that will take a while. I bought all the drain piping last night, we have 5 drains in that room, all of which need to be tied together and ran back to the main drain line of the house. That may take me longer than the electrical. We'll see.
Not much shop talk today. I had Jon Barron (of velostuf fame) over last night to look at buying a bunch of old parts I had scrounged over the years. I need space more than I need old bikes and parts, so we're doing a barter. He hadn't seen my shop before, and I think he was fairly impressed. It was fun to talk bikes with him, that guy is really a walking encyclopedia of old bike knowledge. It worked well, he walked out with a car-load of parts and tools, and I'm going to get some framebuilding stuff and cash from him. Perfect.
well, time to go.
I've just been so busy the last 4-5 days that I haven't even had time to sit down and write out any entries for here. So we have some catching up to do.
We're going to start out with the important things, riding bikes. I haven't been able to do much of that lately, so I was really looking forward to this past Saturday's event: The First Annual Twin Cities Amazing Race.
This fine event was put on by a couple of friends, and lemme just start off by saying what an incredible job they did of organizing this race. It was no small task, as the race was a take-off of the TV show, there were 12 stations along the course and each station had a clue for each team to get you to your next station. The stations were arranged in roughly a loop around Minneapolis. Transportation was only via bicycle, foot, or public transit, and teams were either 3 or 4 people.
So the gist of it was, we all started at the same place, Bohemian flats in downtown Minneapolis, from there, each team was given a clue which led them to one of the 12 stations along the loop, from there we all followed the same loop, but had no idea of where any other team was since we didn't know where each team started. We had to make it through the loop until we hit all twelve stations, then our final clue would lead us to the secret finish location.
My team got sent to the farthest north station first which was the Boom Island light house. Once we got there, we had to do one hell of a hard unscramble-the-words type clue, which translates to a description of the next station. You definitely needed to have some knowledge of Minneapolis to decipher the clues, we certainly needed the combined knowledge of all three of us to get through this race. I wish i had the time and space to write out all the clues here, as they were so creative, they deserve to be read by more people, but alas I'm always short on time.
So here was the path, from the Boom Island Light House, we went to the U of M art museum, then down River Road to a monument at the intersection of River Road and Summit. From there, it was down to Hidden Falls park, then over to Minnehaha falls for some orienteering (which we really botched up, cost us about an hour). Then it was on the light rail down to the Mall of America, then back up to Nokomis Beach. Then along the parkway to the big bronze bunny, then up to the peace gardens. At the peace gardens were we simply given a little hand drawn map showing the lakes in Minneapolis and a red dotted line from the canoe rental place on Calhoun to an island in the middle of Lake of the Isles. Being who we are, we rode all the way up to Isles, to see if we could swim out to the island, saving the time it would take to rent a boat and paddle. Bad idea, no good route, icky water, and boats everywhere. So we rode back to Calhoun, rented a two man kayak, and Dean and I high-tailed it over to the island. I think it actually took us less time to do that paddle than we wasted trying to find a way to swim it! From Calhoun, we rode up to the bridge connecting Loring Park to the Sculpture garden, which led us to the finish down at Pepito's (due to a mistake in our clue however, it told us to go to "letito's", fortunately we knew better). We rolled into Pepito's about 6 hours after we started, and were the first team in, however within two minutes two other teams rolled in. I'd say that's pretty amazing, to have three teams finish a 6 hour race within 2 minutes of each other!
It was one heck of a good time, and I'm already looking forward to next year. A huge thanks you to Amy and Kristen for putting in so much time making it happen.
Alright, on to the house. My boss told me to stay home at the end of last week, since I had done so much work in NJ the week prior. I'm not one to argue when told not to come to work, so I got in some time at home. Thursday I spent way too much time and money getting 4 more permits from the city. I had to get the electrical, plumbing, warm-air, and mechanical permits. I'm doing all of that work myself, so I also have to fill out affidavits for every permit stating I would not hire out that work. Lots of paperwork, and a check for $400 later, I had 4 permits.
I spent most of the rest of Thursday gathering supplies and funding a new Yacht purchase for the owners of Menard's and Home Depot. I did string a little wire up that afternoon, but I changed plan Friday and had to re-do all of it....
Friday I had great assistance. Both my Dad and Brother came over to help me out, and let me tell you, there were one heck of a huge help. My Dad spent his years growing up wiring houses as his Dad was an electrician. And Brian knows the electrical code quite well as he just took the MN state electricians test, and he's a licensed PE in electrical engineering. Needless to say, they know all the stuff I don't even understand about electricity. If you can't weld it, glue it, machine it, or put a wrench on it, I need to defer to those more knowledgeable than myself. Electrical is definitely one of those areas.
With their guidance, we decided to just put in a new breaker box out in the garage, then run our circuits from there. So covered a second monthly payment on the new Yacht for Mr. Home Depot and bought a bunch more supplies. eventually we did get it all in:
Here's the reason we needed another box, the existing one is just plain full:
That took the better part of Friday, as we had to run hard conduit all the way across the house, then pull #6 wire through it all. But I did get a bit more of the garage wiring in place. I had about half of it done before this, now I'd say it's about 80% done.
Sunday my Dad and I hit it again. This time we did all the outlets upstairs, laid out the interior wall plans, mounted the light cans upstairs and finished off most of the garage wiring. We also mounted the bathroom fan, and ran the wires for both the washer and dryer circuits in the new laundry room. We got quite a bit done, I think I should be able to finish it up this week, then get the first inspection. here's how the main room is looking:
Pat has also been moving along. He's got the roof half shingled, and he's been working on making all the cedar soffit. Probably the single best thing he got to do this weekend was back fill part of the foundation, so I could use the front door again Sunday!
I can't tell you how nice it is to not have to walk all the way around the house on each trip I need to make between the addition and the basement.
Otherwise the structure looks about the same, most of the work is going on with the roof and inside. The neighbors certainly were out in force walking by yesterday. That seems to be the hot thing to do one weekends in our neighborhood! I think they're almost as anxious as we are to see it finished, well probably not quite, but you get the idea.
Ok, I'm losing track of the days and I'm too lazy to go back and count. I did make two attempts to update the blog last week, but I lost the entries both times, got frustrated and gave up. So here I am a week later finally updating things.
It's been a tough week since I last wrote here. I've been going non-stop with the house. Pat took 5 days off to do some family stuff, so that gave me some time to hit it hard on the interior stuff, that's all I've done the last week. So let's take a magical journey back into the last week and see how much fun I've been having!
Last week Wednesday, Pat had a late night at work, so he didn't get to my house till about 8 pm. That was a little disappointing for me since he was going to frame up the interior walls for me before he left so that I could wire them. I knew he wouldn't have time to frame them that night and I also knew there was rain in the forecast. So I opted to have him install the windows instead. I figured I could frame the interior walls if need be, but installing windows that big wouldn't be fun alone and I wanted a dry space to work in. So by late Wednesday night, we had windows installed, and man do they look good. The space actually looks like a house now, not just an OSB box.
The neighbors also really like seeing it with windows, we've gotten quite a few comments on how nice the windows look. They're nice big windows, the two facing the street are 5' tall x 50" wide, and the two on the south side are 6' tall, 30" wide. We got lucky and scored them at Cannon Recovery for about half price (still new in the factory boxes). I love that place. It's hit and miss on inventory, but if you are doing new construction and have flexibility on sizes, you're bound to find a good deal on really high-end products.
From the inside, here's how the west wall looks:
Thursday came and I hit it hard, I mean really hard. Between the time I got home from work (3:30) and the time band practice started (7pm) I managed to get almost all of the interior walls framed up. Actually I ran out of studs at 7, so I didn't quite finish, but I had to quit. I got a couple blisters on my hand from the hammer, as Pat forgot to leave me his framing nail gun (dammit).
So there's our new closet, hallway and bathroom framed up. I still needed to add a couple more header boards, but that would wait for Friday when I could get to the store.
Friday I was glad we had windows, really, really glad. I took Friday off work so that I could focus on the house. I got to start my focusing right away as I woke up Friday morning about 6am to rain, hard rain. I went immediately out to the addition to see a large pool of standing water in front of our front door. The roof wasn't quite finished and I had water leaking in the ceiling of the kitchen again, so back up in the attic I went with buckets. Once I had buckets under all the drips there, I went outside. The pool in front of the door I just mentioned: I had to step in it to get out the door. I went up to my knees in water, which means it was about 24" deep! I went to work immediately trying to dig a drainage channel for the water as I didn't really want it all pooled up against the foundation. I finally got most of it drained, but it took a lot of dirt with it. This picture is pretty typical, you can see the line on the foundation where the dirt was back filled up to. The other side of the house is actually even worse.
I don't know how much rain we actually got, but the radio said about 2" in about an hour. That really reeked havoc on things. The driveway is about 12" higher than it was before as most of the sand ran in there. It buried one side of Pat's bobcat. Believe it or not, it's now been 5 days since this rain, and the driveway is still not dried out.
Here's how my back yard looked:
Pretty much a complete lake, and if you're wondering those are the new garage door panels sitting there half submerged. We really got the water that day. (side note, don't adjust the color settings on your monitor, that green house in the background is really that ugly!)
Trying to clean up after the rain really slowed me down. I spent the whole weekend wiring and plumbing the space, which meant about 100 trips per day between the new living room and the new garage (the plumbing and electrical are partially in the floor of the new space which can only be accessed in the ceiling of the garage). Every trip down, I had to trudge through about 6" of mud to get to the garage. You can imagine how much sand is inside our house these days. I didn't take any pictures of the wiring or plumbing yet as it's just not that photogenic. I think I'm just about ready for the electrical inspection this week, and I hope to be able to inspect the plumbing this week as well. I have all the PVC drain and vent lines in and part of the copper. The copper goes much faster for me though as I can almost sweat copper pipe in my sleep after how much brazing I do.
Pat did show up last night for a visit, after being gone for 5 days. He was pretty amazed at how much I had finished. I don't think he was expecting to see any framing, much less plumbing. I think I'm one of the few people who works at roughly the same pace he does.
well, that's all I feel like writing for now. I should have some more updates this week as inspections occur.
Ok, I may not have posted to this thing for a week, but I'm making up for it today. You're getting the full-on Bob Brown rant in addition to the usual house update material today.
So if any of you have tried to call my home or the business you may have noticed that you'll just be getting a busy signal right now, or if it does ring, you can't hear the other end. Well, I still have some repair work to do on the phone line to the house, it got cut during some grading, and I've just been so busy I haven't had time to deal with it. Besides, I have my cell phone, so I could still make calls. Well, I should say I had my cell phone until it became possesed by satan this weekend.
Yup, call me on there and you got about 30% odds of me being able to pick it up. The damn things just shuts off at random, it seems to shut off about 75% of the time when you close the cover, about 50% of the time when I answer a call, and 100% of the time when it's really inconvienent.
It's hard to complain about it though, I've had the same phone for 4 years now which as I understand it from the high-schoolers working at Best-Buy may be the world record. Appearantly they'er designed for about 1-2 years of service, I guess they just assume you'll either lose it by then, or have to get the new model with 26 million color display, ability to photocopy and fax, and built-in surgical impants in your ear and mouth for truly hands-free use.
It served me well, took lots of abuse and was simple and easy to use. I can see from the latest offerings they've taken care of getting anything like that again.
So I have a 2 year agreement with Verizon subject to an early termination fee of $1,000,000 (or something like that). All I need is a new phone, how hard could that be? right? So I go to my local verizon dealer and what luck, I qualify for the phone upgrade plan since I've had my phone more than two years (again, they seemed shocked someone would own a phone more than 2 years). So I peruse the offerings of phones there with the ridiculously low prices posted on big signs (which are actually only the price with a new 2 year contract, the real price is in tiny print at the bottom of the tag). The one I want is $59, or so they want you to think, it's actually $159 even with my big time upgrade bonus pricing (really makes me feel important that they reward my good customer status with pricing that's $100 higher than joe-smoe walking in off the street).
So I come to grips with the fact that I'm going to pay far more for this phone than it's worth (a fact I don't easily come to grips with, ask anyone who knows me). So I tell the flunky high-school kid to get me this particular phone, and he says he just needs to call into verizon to verify my status as eligable for the "upgrade price". He calls in and while on the phone the person on the other end kindly informs him that I need to "upgrade" my plan if I want the new phone. They don't offer my plan anymore and I can't get a new phone with an old plan.
What the hell difference does the phone make? none.
It's just a complete scan to force you into a higher price plan. In my case $10 more per month. Now to make it worth my while, that extra $10 does buy me more minutes, and gives me free roaming. Neither of which I have any use for. The long and short of it is it's a big scam, a money making machine. And of course I'm free to cancel my contract for a mere $175 per line....
I think I'll go to the verizon store later again and give them some more hell. Probably won't buy anything, but I want to make thier lives as miserable as they make mine.
now where's my string with a tin can on each end...
Bob- I FEEL your pain Bro! There isn't much worse than cell companies and their horseshit small-talk, backhanded, "read the fine print" offers. Okay, now that that's outta the way... listen to what we do and a way for your life to be MUCH better... i.e. happier! Forget the land line thing... let it go! Dump, your local/long distance service and throw your phones OUT! Go to Cingular and get a "Family" plan for you & Beth. While there, pick up 2 really good, solid [reliable] phones, sign up for 2 years and feel good about things again. BTW, in my opinion you cannot go wrong with Cingular as they just merged with ATT Wireless so between the 2 companies they have the most towers in the country... more towers=better coverage=fewer dropped calls/fewer moments of roaming/etc. Why? 1. Compared to landlines cell phones as a "do it all" phone are the way of the future and a real $$ saver in the end. 2. Amy and me have been landline-free for 2+ years now. 3. Why Cingular and not Verizon or some other provider? Easy... Cingular uses GSM technology [i.e. World Phone frequency]... it's a broader technology, less dependent on "where" you are in the USA [important for you, as you travel with regard to work] and... most folks [Amy and me too!] agree that the call quality is clearer and more 'clean' sounding. Verizon uses [and for some reason INSISTS on keeping old technology which will HAVE to be switched over sooner or later] CDMA... and while it's good when it's good, it's VERY dependent on location i.e. major metro areas. 4. The upsides and downsides... CDMA in the USA right now is getting hipper phones from the Euro and Asian manufacturers. As those companies see that the US providers are serious about staying with and changing over to GSM tech. we'll see the uber-cool phones over here like GSM'ers are getting in Asia and Europe. So that's a downside if you're into the Latest/Hippest in phones. The upside is... there are tons of great places to buy "unlocked" phones nowadays. What that means [if you don't know] is that after you get your new phone and contract with a GSM provider like Cingular [there are a few others in the States BUT I would seriously avoid them... for instance T-Mobile... very spotty service and lots of dropped calls] simply go to a reputable seller and buy an unlocked phone of your liking [of course making sure it uses your providers technology] and simply remove your SIM card from your existing GSM phone, plop it into your new phone[s] and you're good to go. That's the beauty of GSM tech. Also, another great thing is this... if you ever go to Europe, they don't support CDMA over there at all... BUT they do support GMS tech. so you simply buy a blank SIM card in the country you're in and plop it in your phone and you're NOT paying international rates to call even locally-say from Rome, Italy to Rome, Italy-on your phone which is interpreting those calls as long distance international on your American SIM card. A blank SIM runs generally $15-$30 dollars. It's all just so much nicer than messing with landlines and cell phones. I say consolidate! Last... for home use, grab a docking station that allows you to charge your phone while using it as a speaker phone [or with a headset] for incoming and outgoing calls. They run appx. $30. And another $45 for a good, solid Bluetooth earpiece [of course you need a Bluetooth-capable phone too so keep that in mind when shopping] for driving as well as NOT having to be connected to your phone with an earbud when you are talking on a headset, which fast becomes a PAIN. If you're down with doing all of this on the Net... a place Amy and me have had great experiences with for new contracts as well as outstanding service, discounts and pricing is "letstalk.com". For GSM unlocked phones... I'd suggest going to www.mobilecityonline.com for a great selection at great prices. Good luck Bro!