8-30-09 (22:29)
  • being off for four days in a row is nice and allows me to be more productive.
  • the countertops went in on thursday. really like the stone, but not in love with the fabrication and installation. we used "best granite" based in hayward and wouldn't recommend them. they did an okay job, but some of the details weren't great. oh well. after the countertops went in i worked on getting the sink hooked up. that turned out to be a hassle. had to take a few trips to home depot to get the right stuff for both the faucet supply and sink drain. faucet supply ended up working out, but the drain was very slow.
  • it was really hot (96) on friday so i tried to work on little projects inside the house even though the deck was the next big thing on the list. meryl and i installed the upper cabinets in the kitchen so the cabinets are officially complete. there's still some trim to install at the base, but i consider that part of the trim work more than the cabinet work. meryl got a final coat of paint on the front of the front door so it looks nice.
  • got some draino on saturday and found that the drain didn't drain at all. ran a snake down the drain and it stopped about 4 feet in. wasn't sure if it was a clog or just a bend in the pipe that i was hitting. thought about hiring a plumber with a snake /fiber optic camera, but knew that i'd be looking at at least $125 to do that. so on friday i worked on the problem an hour or two. finally i decided to go up on the roof to see if i could clear out the vent pipe. ran into a clog about 15 feet down and then again at about 18 feet and then it was clear for the 25 feet of snake that i had available. went back to the trap and hooked it back up. turned on the water for about 5 minutes and it worked just fine. surprising how much of an effect the vent being clogged had on the drain. not sure what was in there, but there aren't any trees above the roof so it was more likely a rat or squirrel or something like that.
  • yesterday was another hot day (93). i got a couple piers in for the deck supports, but abandoned that project in favor of installing the doorbell and doing some caulking around the front of the house. also did some cleaning up around the house. started trimmming the kitchen window.
  • today was a good productive day. we got the major structure on the deck built. still need to put in the landing at the bottom of the stairs as well as the building the stringers. after that it'll be time to lay the decking. hope to have that done in time for the party on sunday. building the stairs is going to be the most challenging part since i've never done that before. looking forward to pouring the landing.
  • big news of the last few days is that with the cabinets in and the sink working, the kitchen it completely functional. we've done three loads in the dishwasher so all the stuff that was in the attic is now clean and most of it now has a place in the cabinets. we cooked tacos tonight as our first official meal. pretty exciting stuff.

  • 8-24-09 (23:01)

  • with the help of our neighbor we got the laundry cabinet up on the wall. unfortunately when i did the sheetrock on the ceiling i didn't notice how far out of level the ceiling was so now the cabinet is level-ish and there is a gap between it and the ceiling on the left side, but it's even with the ceiling on the right side. would have taken about 15 minutes to fix if i had noticed this when doing the sheetrock. very frustrating.
  • also frustrating is the dryer vent situation. i wish i had known about an in wall vent box before i did the rough in. instead of using that i'll have to buy an adjustable elbow which will do the job, but isn't as perfect. a similar situation arose with the water supply line for the frig. they have an in wall valve that i didn't know about when i did the rough in for that. had i known then the frig would be able to be closer to the wall than it will end up being. so far there have been a half dozen or so rookie mistakes that have annoyed me. not bad overall, but frustrating when you find out the solution about a week too late to do anything about it.

  • 8-23-09 (21:51)

  • finished priming and painting the laundry room today. meryl helped paint after work and we busted it out. looks good and i'm glad that's done. that room still needs trim (already purchased) and flooring (not picked out yet), but those things can definitely wait.
  • next project is the back deck. kitchen is basically on hold until the countertops come in (friday).
  • i wonder what bolt could run in the 400m. he'd be top five in the world within a couple months of training.

  • 8-23-09 (11:23)

  • sarah came over yesterday and helped me texture the walls in the laundry room. that was helpful. today i'm hoping to sand, clean, and prime the walls. maybe get some paint on it tonight when meryl is home.
  • just dodged a bullet. i was working on my dad's fantasy football draft and heard a hissing sound coming from the kitchen. walked over there and saw the newly hooked up frig water line spraying water at the back of the frig. luckily it was still pulled out so i could turn off the water at the location, rather than having to go to the main. if i were running an errand at home depot or if i were in the back or in the laundry room with the radio on, i might not have heard it. if it had been spraying for 15 minutes instead of 15 seconds there's a chance we would have ruined the freshly laid flooring. got lucky. i had planned on replacing the line today, actually because the old line, which i reused, gave the water a bad taste. no more reusing old water lines for me.

  • 8-20-09 (23:41)

  • my entire life i've been interested in track and field and during that time the 100m dash has always been the most glorified event. the record has always moved down given a few years of waiting, but it's moved down by a few hundredths each time. with bolt, though, we have a new paradigm. this guy is either a freak of nature who is now genuinely the second best sprinter in world history having the best single year in recorded history, or he's a huge doper who is also quite talented. i'm hoping it's the former. he is shattering records like no one has done before. today he ran 19.19 in the 200m which is just crazy fast. to give perspective, the world record before bolt was 19.32 by michael johnson. the record before that was something like 19.66. when johnson ran that time in atlanta in the gold shoes it was amazing and most people who follow track assumed it wouldn't be touched for at least 20 years. ato boldon thought it wouldn't be touched in his lifetime. bolt comes along and barely breaks it in beijing with a 19.30. today he smashes that by more than a tenth. he was in lane 5 which is perfect for him. usually you get lane 4 when you have the best time, but lane 5 is perfect because he doesn't run the curve as tightly as true 200m runners. what he is doing is the equivalent of chamberlin scoring 100 in a game or dimaggio hitting in 56 straight. it's absurdly good and you should enjoy it because that kind of athletic greatness is more rare than the kobe bryants and tom bradys that we hold up today.

  • 8-17-09 (20:19)

  • seeing my aunt's family in action was pretty cool. they make a good argument for home-schooling, so long as you do it right. i think a couple of the biggest worries when it comes to home-schooling are the social implications and the gaps in knowledge that may come from being taught by only two parents. there is probably a network of parents, though, that help teach different subjects so that helps with both of those concerns. it's not as if it's a new idea, this is how people learned what they needed to learn for hundreds of years; modern education as we know it is a relatively new construct, so that's important to note. the biggest hurdle of the whole idea is modernity itself which requires different skills than life in the past: the ability to sit at your desk for hours on end, for example. as well as all the hoops that we're supposed to jump through to get into college which is a prerequisite for most high level jobs. that said, i have no doubt that my cousins are going to find a niche that works for them. the other half of that hurdle of modernity is the fact that we aren't subsistence farmers anymore - we need cash to live. so if you're not independently wealthy or you don't have one earner who can provide for the entire family, the home-schooling option goes out the door. it's a luxury for most.
  • this is a busy week. the weekend was busy and we're going away this weekend again. i also have my first day back at school and a cousin's birthday and of course the house and work. speaking of work, tomorrow i'll be going to a co-worker's house to check out some projects she needs done. she is going to have an addition built and i was going to give her some ideas on that as well.

  • 8-16-09 (15:07)

  • usain bolt ran today what he should have run in bejing (if he hadn't coasted to the end). the guy is already in the top 5 sprinters of all-time if you ask me. carl lewis is clearly number one because of his dominance over the course of 16 years, but bolt is obviously the fastest man ever and has smashed the 100m twice and broken the 200m record of michael johnson, which i thought wasn't going to happen for another 20 years. amazing talent. johnson i wouldn't consider a sprinter since his best race was actually the 400m and he never ran anything less than 200m. gay looked great in the race and ran a pr (9.71, just .02 off the previous world record and the 3rd best time in history), but was overshadowed by bolt's great start. bolt had a perfect start and led wire to wire. this is rare for him because of his size. it takes him a while to get up to speed, but once he gets going he toasts everyone else. bolt still needs to work on his turn in the 200m because he could even shave a couple hundredths off that time. it's gotta be rough for gay, he's a great sprinter and possibly the second best in the world, but few remember second best. goosebump stuff here.
  • speaking of which, i didn't remark on the great work of lance armstrong. his third place showing in the tour this summer cements him as the greatest biker of all-time (miguel indurain is the second best tour-de-france rider ever). he's ten years older than the other top competitors and has now been on the winning team 8 times. it's just crazy how good that guy is. if he had won this one i would have been ready to place him in the top three athletes ever. we'll see how he does next year with his own team.
  • went to fresno this weekend with meryl and sarah. it was my grandma's 80th birthday and fun was had by all. it was the first time i've seen a lot of that family in many years. we all convened at stacy's house which was the perfect venue because it's a good size and it has a lot of entertainment. from the usual stuff like a pool and ps3 to the unusual like a trampoline inside the living room, a zip line between two trees in the front yard and the chickens on the side of the house. fun stuff. i should visit more often.
  • didn't get any work done on the house. started today off with a dump run. working on finishing mud in the laundry room. finished the range hood vent. will likely have the stove and frig in later tonight. yay.

  • 8-12-09 (21:48)

  • got most of the base cabinets in today. there's only one left to do, but we have to get the dishwasher in first; at least that would be best. also put on some of the hardware.
  • we'll be ready for the counter top guys probably by the end of the day tomorrow. not sure if we'll wait to do the uppers, or if we'll just go ahead and get it done. it may or may not help the installers to have space to angle the countertops in.
  • also got some mud work done in the laundry room. that should be done by friday night.
  • still need to finalize the venting connection for the range hood. there are all sorts of loose ends that need finishing up all around the house. that said, i do feel like we've made a lot of progress and are looking to make a lot more in the next few weeks. we've brought a lot more light to the house, the front door area is a lot better looking (stucco, new front light, foyer light), the laundry room is drywalled and moving along, base cabinets are almost done, etc. in the next few weeks we can reasonably expect to have done: doorbell up and running, appliances in, countertops installed, cabinets finished, functional sink and dishwasher, cleared out breakfast nook, cleared out living room, back deck, fully functional laundry room. all this is good.

  • 8-11-09 (18:42)

  • haven't gotten much done the last couple days. fiddled around in the laundry room. had some joint compound fall in my eye. flushed for about 10 minutes and it's better today. that sucked.
  • stucco work is done. they showed up sunday and finished. looks nice. it'll be a couple weeks before we can prime and another week after that before we can paint.

  • 8-9-09 (08:50)

  • stucco guys didn't show up yesterday to get the job finished. called, left a message, called several times throughout the day and didn't hear back. luckily we only paid a fourth of the cost so far and they've done half the work. he asked for more, but i told him i'd give him a check at the end of the day. then he said, that he'd just get the rest on saturday. so, i'm not sure what the guy is thinking, but we're ahead at this point so i guess that's a good thing.
  • started work on installing three of the base cabinets yesterday. also installed part of the range hood yesterday. still need to hook up the ducting for that to be complete. need to make a home depot run, again.
  • next weekend is my grandma's 80th b-day so i'll be going to fresno for that.
  • updated pictures.

  • 8-7-09 (17:49)

  • sad news about budd schulberg. on the waterfront is a great one. damn.
  • working in laundry room as the floor in the kitchen is still tender. i stupidly forgot to get water-based poly so the smell is bad and it takes longer to fully dry. as far as results go, the floor has probably been my biggest disappointment so far.

  • 8-6-09 (16:14)

  • sad news about john hughes. he was a great writer-director, though he fell off later in his career. much more important in my life than michael jackson.
  • put up drywall on the last wall in the laundry room.

  • 8-6-09 (09:31)

  • turns out that staining the floor is more an art than a science. it's less splotchy now, but not amazingly even. we got the first coat of poly on last night and will do another tonight.
  • stucco guys worked an 11 hour day to get everything demoed and a first coat up. will finish on saturday. good guys, hard workers. hopefully they'll be able to match the existing stucco well. that's really the test.
  • we also started working on the laundry room cabinet yesterday. sarah came over and helped with that a bit. good visit.

  • 8-5-09 (10:53)

  • stucco guys are here. that's a relief. they're making a shitload of noise, but i think it'll work out in the end.
  • looks like i'm a firefox browser now. ie was crashing and slow. firefox is ok.
  • first coat of stain is on the floor. it's a bit splotchy because of our application method. second coat i'll be doing by myself and that actually might work out to be better because i can work in a straight line.
  • trimmed some of the tomato plants and other vegetables we had growing. they're a bit out of control these days.
  • just wired up a timer switch for our front porch light. will test when the stucco guys aren't working on the front door.

  • 8-3-09 (22:50)

  • didn't get a heck of a lot done today. put putty in all the holes in the flooring and started sanding it down. hopefully will have a coat of stain on the floor tomorrow night, we'll see.
  • stucco guy says he'll be here on wednesday, so hopefully that actually happens.
  • have a deadline is a good thing, but it's raising the pressure level.
  • went to another neighborhood watch meeting today. we didn't get too much done.
  • updated pics.

  • 8-2-09 (22:33)

  • stucco guy was supposed to show up yesterday to submit a contract, he was a no show. a lot of contractors can be real lazy bums. as much as i love the trades and self-reliance, there seems to be a lack of customer service that also pervades the trades. does one have to be unreliable to others to remain free? it would certainly appear so as some of the most "free" people i know are also absent-minded and lack the kind of structure that civilized people expect.
  • anyway, i still hope that he does the work. will call him tomorrow. need him to get this done by the end of the week so we can move on with plans for the back deck, etc. we have a deadline now with this damn labor day party so things need to be constantly moving forward, quickly.
  • spent all weekend on the floor. meryl helped a few hours each day but had work and some wedding to deal with so she missed out on a lot of the "fun." finished laying down the flooring, including in the pantry area in the kitchen. that area by the electrical box and pantry took a long time. lots of hand planing to get boards to fit tight, lots of measuring and then getting up to make a cut and then remeasuring and getting back up. my back and knees aren't very happy right now. finished laying the flooring this morning and then started sanding the floor. we were cheapskates and decided not to rent a commercial sander so we used the sanders i already had, including one that i bought the other day and have had my eye on for a while. first did the whole floor with 60 grit, then vacuumed and did the whole floor with 80 grit. then vacuuming and wiped down the floor with mineral spirits. now we're putting putty in approximately 3,000 nail holes as well as gaps, cracks, and checks in and between the floor boards. then we'll sand again with 150 grit. vacuum again. mineral spirits again. precondition the entire floor. light sand to knock down the grain, then clean again, then first coat of stain. then wait a couple hours. then stain again. then wait. then polyurethane, three coats with a light buffing and 12 hour wait in between.
  • work tomorrow. ugh. this weekend went quickly.