3-31-10 (18:54)
  • day off today. got much of the sheathing up in the garage. should be done after a few more hours of work. we also took two truckloads of dirt out of the backyard and to terry's house. terry is our garbage collector and he saw the truck full of dirt and asked if we were getting rid of it. we said yes and he asked if we wanted to take it to his house. that worked out well for us because the other guy i wanted to give it to gave me a wrong number so all i had was his address and i didn't want to just dump it in front of his house. we still have 2-3 truckloads of dirt left, but we got a good area cleared now so that's nice.
  • yesterday was another run day for me. this was the second time i've run in probably 10 years and it went pretty well. ran about 2 miles and then rested by walking for about 3 minutes. then ran another mile at a pretty good clip. definitely felt like the old track/cross-country days. it's amazing how quickly it comes back to you. the smell and the feel never leave you. need to continue to work on my base for at least a couple months before training can get more interesting.

  • 3-29-10 (19:37)

  • been exceptionally busy the last week or so.
  • decided on a whim to go to la on tuesday so i left after work and then returned here on friday. while i was there i picked up a couch, some wood, and some wine boxes from my grandma and dad. the wood and boxes are for garage projects. couch is now in the living room, sold our little black one.
  • also went to two nice hardware stores - anawalt lumber and koontz hardware. both great in their own way.
  • also went to the apple pan which is a well-known burger joint on pico. still holding it down after like 90 years, still selling good quality burgers on paper plates. had some apple pie afterwards too. good place. of course i also went to rocco's in topanga which is my favorite restaurant anywhere. also went to pinkberry finally. good if you like tarty frozen yogurt, i don't. one is going to open on telegraph soon i think. all berkeley needs is another freaking frozen yogurt place. jeesh. also went to a place called millions of milkshakes. good but not amazing. soft serve ice cream is inferior, but still tasty. best soft serve i've ever had was the maple soft serve dipped in maple sugar that we had in vermont at morse maple farm.
  • march madness has been good this time around. good upsets and some solid games. the xavier/ksu game was memorable. 2ot and lots of big shots made.
  • today they hauled away the last of the garage debris so they're done with their part. i need to sheath the interior with plywood then i can finish the electrical. rough electrical is done so that's good. i definitely enjoy electrical more than any other phase of construction. framing is fun and feels like you're getting a lot done, but electrical is even better. plumbing can be good when it goes well, but it usually doesn't go great for me.
  • also need to rip off roof, put on new roofing, cut out bad part of the slab, pour new slab, and then start installing all the interior stuff (shelving, workbenches, etc.). it would be great to have a week off to work on these things, but that's not happening any time soon.
  • saturday i worked on the garage.
  • sunday i woke up on the early side and ran a couple miles with meryl. first time in many years that i've done any running and it went fairly well. calves are a bit sore today. i'm training for a run that her family is doing and they invited me. it's a 52 mile relay, but i'll only be doing like 6-8 miles of that because i only have 5 months to train.
  • went to the alumni house to install toilets. installed three new toilets, fourth toilet won't fit because of some questionable plumbing. also had the fantasy baseball draft and some basketball games going on that day.
  • internet isn't working very well lately. not sure if it's the browser or the internet provider or the wiring. lame.
  • rated about 6,000 songs in my library so far. 27,000+ to go. hope to be done by this time next year.
  • memory is total shit the last couple years. really need to find a solution to this or i'm going to be a pathetic old man who can't remember to clean the spit off my chin.
  • got about 8 artichokes growing on our artichoke plant. i honestly didn't think it would produce anything because it just seemed out of control (5 feet tall and about 8 feet wide). when lettuce bolts it stops producing good stuff, but i guess having a big plant isn't a bad thing with artichokes. it seemingly happened overnight. meryl noticed it yesterday and it was a nice surprise. we may have some homegrown artichoke in a week or two. we hope to plant tomato and other plants in the next week.
  • allergy medicine seems to have done the trick. i use the fluticasone nasal spray and it works great so far.

  • 3-19-10 (17:48)

  • work started on installing the header today. first they stripped some of the shoring that was keeping the pressure off the new foundation, but now the foundation is carrying most of the load. they took off the garage doors and started to install the header. now that most of the shoring is off the walls we can get started on nailing up the electrical boxes and sistering the 2x4s to the 2x3 studs. i'm hoping everything on their end will be done by the end of next week.
  • we still haven't gotten rid of all the dirt that is in the backyard so it's quite a mess, we'll see how that pans out. we might end up having to haul it away on our own, but that's going to take several trips because the truck can only handle about 1,000 lbs at a time and we have probably 6 loads worth of work. we'll see how that goes. maybe if we stretch it out over the course of the next couple weeks it won't be so bad. will need to find a place that handles dirt on the cheap.
  • march madness has been good so far. watched a decent amount of the evening games yesterday. washington pulled out a victory. i had marquette winning that one. as usual my bracket doesn't look very good. i don't take enough risks on the lower seeds so i tend to be in the middle of the pack.
  • i honestly don't know how i'd vote on the healthcare bill if i were in congress. it feels to me like the biggest reason to vote for it at this point is to stick it to the republicans and that's a shitty reason to vote for something so big. over time the bill has gotten less and less to my liking (never even discussed single payer, dropped public option a few months ago, seems to cover fewer and fewer people each time, there seems to be more provisions for the votes of individual congressmen, etc.). it's just a mess and it's difficult to keep up with what the bill actually is anymore. then there's the fact that the dems are going to use reconciliation or deem and pass. the whole thing is just out of control. i had hoped that obama would help change some of these rules so they don't get used against him and the dems after they lose the majority in 2010 or 2012, instead they're just getting as much as they can while they're in power. unfortunately they seem to be getting the worst of both worlds: compromising on the bill by taking out key provisions like the public option and leaving many things off the table because of backroom meetings with big pharma, but also using questionable tactics like deem and pass or reconciliation. unless someone is willing to put their foot down while they are in power this is just going to continually get worse and worse and devolve into continuous tit for tat b.s. the system is corrupted. the people gave the dems a chance and this is what they came up with? it's pathetic, but i'd almost vote for it just because i don't want to see the republicans win. them winning this battle could almost be as bad as us going down this spiral of tit for tat lawmaking. i'm almost to the point where i say we should scrap the whole thing and start over. not the healthcare bill, the constitution.
  • busy as usual these days.
  • it has annoyed me for many years how media outlets will write a headline like this: "tiger woods has sex with little girls, says source." they lead with the claim and then cite the source. to me it should read: "source says tiger woods has sex with little girls." it's not always bad stuff that they put this way, but when it's not a fact it seems to me that they should emphasize the source first and then the accusation or whatever it is, not vise versa.

  • 3-15-10 (16:28)

  • concrete pour went pretty well. it was messy because the pump doesn't have a shutoff at the spout, rather you have to press a button and that turns off the pump remotely. seems to me as though it would be better to have a valve at the spout, i know that's how some places do it. they're finishing it up right now. there wasn't enough to fully fill in the trench, but most of it is filled in so that works for me.
  • the actual pour is fairly stressful because there are overage charges if you spend too much time pumping. they only give you 4 minutes per yard of concrete so you have to get it all out as quickly as possible. then they clean up and you trowel the edges and clean-up. once they leave the stress is gone because you don't have the noise of the pump and the truck and you're off the clock at that point.

  • 3-15-10 (14:11)

  • forms are done and ready for concrete. truck should be here in the next two hours, though they haven't called yet to tell me they are on their way. hopefully it goes well and we have enough leftover to fill in the trench from the electrical dig. we'll see. it'll take about 4-5 days before they can take the supports off the building and let it fully rest on the new foundation.
  • haven't done much today. mostly waiting for the concrete and wasting time. haven't been overly productive while the garage has been getting work done on it. without having clean access to my tools and having them out where i can work without having to worry about dust issues, it's been difficult. trying to get things ready so that the garage can move quickly once they are done with their end of the work.
  • latest issue with the garage is uncertainty about how to address the slab floor. our plan for right now is to cut off the back third where it's really badly cracked and re-pour that ourselves. the rest we will either leave as-is or grind down in areas and then put an epoxy over it to mask the many imperfections. a whole new slab would probably be $1000 assuming we subbed out the finishing and hauling away of concrete.
  • the healthcare thing seems inevitable at this point. not sure what kind of beast we're going to end up with, but it seems as though something will happen. republicans seem to be wearing down and obama really needs it to pass at this point. i hate having to wait so long before we can really judge the impact of these things. we don't fully know the impact of clinton and bush yet, much less obama. it's like a story that takes years to unfold, but by the time the questions have been answered i've already forgotten all the key elements of the question i had in the first place. same goes for the nfl and nba drafts, though the results happen a bit faster and are more clearly defined.

  • 3-13-10 (18:01)

  • once in a while i'll check the old updates. here's one from 3/30/09:
  • "yesterday jon came over and helped with the garage project. problem: garage has three cross beams/joists running from opposing top plates, all three have fallen off the top plate on one side or the other. south wall is about 4 inches out of plumb. north wall about 2 inches out of plumb. south wall is partially off the foundation. solution: i rigged up a 4x4 in the middle of the garage and 2 2x8s on the south wall. using two come-alongs we pulled on the wall. doing this we were able to get the bottom of the south wall back on the foundation. replaced part of the mudsill and attached it to the foundation and rest of the south wall. we were unable to get the top of the wall any significant amount closer to the north wall. after jon left i extended the cross beams by sistering a 2x4 to them. this sistered 2x4 now rests on the top plate on all three beams. they're attached to the top plates using hurricane ties. overall it was a mixed results type of day. i really would have liked to get the south wall within 2 inches of plumb, but that was not to be. even if i had adopted the word for word plan of the engineer i don't think that the come alongs would have had enough power to move the wall. the wall itself isn't the problem, it's more that in trying to move it we were trying to move the entire roof and west wall that became a problem. the good news is that the band-aid that we applied should make the structure a little more stout. it's now at least partially attached to the foundation and the cross beams are holding the roof together a lot more than they were when they were dangling in the middle of the garage. ultimately this project is probably going to require a professional to lift the building, replace the slab foundation, and straighten it. no idea how much that would cost or if there is an easier way to get: 1) the building straight 2) a new foundation (which is badly cracked and not at all flat/level)."
  • looks like it'll be a year later that that problem finally gets solved and yes it took a professional and yest they had to lift the building. funny to see how expectations change and how my idea of a productive day has changed. learned a lot in that time too.
  • really looking forward to them being done with the structure so we can move onto the roof and electrical. pretty much settled on the shop lights i want. meryl and i will figure out the layout this weekend. that'll include the tools and storage as well as the electrical outlets.

  • 3-13-10 (14:36)

  • four cop cars and a helicopter showed up at the end of the block last week. arrested some guy on the front lawn of a house on the end of the block and seemed to be all. not sure about the story, but they had him on his stomach and all that so it would appear he didn't want to go.
  • garage is making progress, but it's been a little slow. doing the rebar and setting the mudsill took longer than i thought. they will form up and pour concrete on monday. taking that day off instead of wednesday so i can be around.
  • on thursday i finished the electrical rough-in. hurt my back that day so that sucked. when meryl came home she helped me feed the wire into the conduit. went fairly well. after they pour the foundation they'll replace the header and set the beam. then we should be ready to go on the roof and electrical.
  • today i filled in the electrical trench with dirt and hopefully we have enough leftover concrete after the foundation to pour some in the trench. it doesn't need to look great or anything, but i'd rather have the top two inches filled with concrete than with just dirt or left open. in a year we'll probably redo the entire driveway, though, so it's not like we're looking for perfection at this point.
  • also drove in the ground rod for the garage subpanel. even with the rotohammer that took a while and i ended up resorting to the sledgehammer to get the last few inches down.
  • trying to take it somewhat easy this weekend because my back wasn't feeling so great after thursday. i think that it didn't heal 100% after i hurt it a while back.

  • 3-10-10 (17:53)

  • haven't been shot at this week or anything so that's nice.
  • guys couldn't work today because they had another job to button up. should be here tomorrow though to form up the foundation. i'm hoping that will only take a day and that we can pour on friday. that would give it a couple days to cure and then hopefully they could take off the forms on monday. we're also going to have them put up the beam and header because they work well and have reasonable rates. it'll also allow me time to work on the electrical and get ready to have the roofing underway. if all goes well we could start the roofing next weekend, but that depends upon a lot of things - the weather, the schedule for the guys doing the structure, the availability of the roofing from home depot, and the schedule for the guy whose help i plan on getting for the roof. i'm also hoping that the roofing only takes three days. one for tear off, one for prep and tar paper and one for roofing and finishing touches. haven't quite decided what we're doing about the downspouts (or lack thereof) and the shed (which we'd have to build or buy for our gardening stuff).
  • tomorrow's goals are to help them do everything they need to do to get the forms set and also to get the electrical conduit roughed it and ready for the pour. pretty sure i have everything i need.
  • hope to make a trip down to la at some point as well.
  • updated movies and pictures pages.

  • 3-9-10 (17:32)

  • dug out the foundation for the garage today. meryl was here for about an hour to help then her stepbrother came by for a few hours and we also hired rafael (who did our art room stucco patch) to help. it went well. took about 4 hours which was about 2 hours less than i thought it was going to take. about 3 yards of dirt we took out from under the garage. at this point the garage is completely lifted off the ground, it's pretty cool. took today and tomorrow off. hopefully we'll run the electrical conduit tomorrow which will go through the foundation and up and into the interior of the garage. that would be even better than the original plan which was to run an LB in through the exterior of the wall. this is cleaner and has less of a chance of leaking. if we get the forms up and the conduit in tomorrow i'll be happy. that would mean the concrete would go in on thursday which would be great.
  • the updated pictures page should be online by the end of the night.

  • 3-7-10 (17:06)

  • haven't had much time lately. did my aa picks real quick.
  • garage is lifted, but they still have some work to do before it'll be time to dig out the foundation. hope to do that on tuesday if i can get the time off.
  • mostly worked in the back this weekend. finishing up the drainage and whatnot.

  • 3-3-10 (07:47)

  • first garage guy is here today, others will arrive shortly. seems nice, hope they get a lot done today in spite of the rain issues.
  • the drainage that we installed on the side of the house seems to be keeping that area relatively mud free so that's a good thing.

  • 3-1-10 (18:04)

  • would have liked to see more of the health care reform meeting on cspan, but only watched the stuff covered by the daily show. at one point mccain talks about a b.s. amendment that would have excluded floridians from some provisions of the bill because it was politically expedient and would have gained some votes. he mentioned this fully expecting excuses and push back from obama. instead obama replied "i think you make a valid point." mccain's first response was reflexive in that he started to argue with obama about the point, but after a few seconds he realized that obama had conceded the point and he stopped and just shut up. he was so geared up for a confrontation that he didn't even hear obama's reply. this is a microcosm for the entire approach by the republicans on this issue. got a good amount done around the house over the weekend. saturday i cleaned up the rest of the garage. took all the shelves off the wall as well as the work benches that lined the north wall. now the walls are completely empty.
  • after the garage i tackled some of the flooding problems we've had. i bought a pump the other day and rigged it up to pump out all the water from the trench we dug the other day. i also pumped out the water which had gathered underneath the house on the west side crawl space. it was an annoying job because i was muddy the entire time. i also took out meryl's afci breaker and replaced it with a normal breaker because her afci trips with her computer and the iron and other things. it can be very annoying. customer service is something i appreciate more and more as i get older. as i try to fix, rather than replace, things i'm finding that customer service is a valuable component of a company's product. i've been having trouble with cutler-hammer afci breakers tripping when i plug in certain devices so i called them up today and the tech is sending me a device that should cut down the noise on the line and hopefully solve the problem. this was free of charge and he also asked that i call him back because he was interested in finding out how it worked for me. this shows that he's interested in improving the quality of the product and his customer service. i can appreciate both of those things.
  • yesterday we decided, somewhat on a whim, to solve the drainage issues we've been having on the north side of the house. the problems are: the neighbor has a cement driveway and all the water from her side drains to our side, there are three downspouts on the north side that dump the roof runoff onto the north side strip, and of course there's the usual amount of rain that it would normally get as well. all this accumulates on the side of the house and sits there until it can work its way down and (eventually) that ends up in a low spot under the west side of the house. so we drew up a plan to run perforated pipe on the north side of the house and have it drain to the backyard. we went to home depot, bought the pipe, 9 cubic feet of gravel, and hired a laborer named george (or jorge; he called himself george, but when i asked he said jorge or george was fine). he helped a bunch and did a great job of digging the trench along the side of the house. while he did that meryl and i relocated the birds of paradise because that's where our dry well was going to be located. after relocating the birds of paradise we got started on digging the dry wells. we didn't actually buy a drywell system, instead we bought two garbage cans and drilled holes in them. it should be strong enough (they're located in an area that doesn't really get foot traffic), it's cheaper, and it's better than filling the holes with gravel because it allows for more space for water. i hope it works. meryl made two more trips to HD for a total of 1 cubic yard of gravel. it was a lot of work shoveling the dirt from the side of the house to the back of the house and then shoveling the gravel from the truck to the back of the house to the side of the house (using buckets because the wheelbarrow couldn't back there once the trench had been dug. jorge helped a bunch, it would have been hellish without him. meryl is finishing up some of the final touches on the trench today and it should all be done on wednesday.
  • when digging the trench we came across a rusted metal pipe about 1.5" in diameter. we determined that it had to be either water or gas supply, but it was on a side of the building that didn't make much sense for either. it was right next to the fireplace so i guess that it was a gas line, but the fireplace doesn't look like it ever had gas piped in or a valve to control gas. i called 811 to see what they could do, but they require 2 days notice and make a point to say that you're supposed to call before you dig. i knew you were supposed to call before you dig, but i really had no idea that there would be anything there and we were digging by hand so it's not like we were likely to do damage to anything. the guy on the phone said that the law requires you to call before you dig anywhere on your property. i asked "even 6 inches?" he said "anymore than 1cm down and you're required to call." "even for planting a flower?" "yes." so my first thought was that's fucking silly and my second thought was why the hell does the law specify 1 cm? are we in freaking france or something? for crying out loud, if you're going to be a fascist and make me call you to plant a daisy, at least use the standard system of measurement. earlier today meryl heard a noise while at home. turns that a couple of idiots were driving after each other shooting at one another. i swear, this stuff gets better everyday. idiots stopping in the middle of the highway, people pissing on the side of the street, people stealing my bike and breaking into my truck for $4 in change, people getting arrested in front of whole foods market with guns drawn, and now a shooting right in front of our house. awesome.
  • while we were doing this we also watched/listened to the hockey game. we watched the first period while we ate lunch. then we listened to the second period and first half of the third period while we worked. then we stopped and watched the second half of the third period and overtime. exciting game. i'm happy about the way we performed. i'm not as crushed by our defeat as a canadian would have been so i guess it's okay that we lost. would have been nice to win, but they wanted it more so i'm okay with it. we showed them that we deserve respect by beating them once and then taking them to OT the second time.
  • overall the canadians had a very respectable showing in the olympics so they should be happy about that. we also did very well including some really unexpected medals in the nordic events. curling was a blast to watch as usual. winter isn't as good as summer, but the olympics are always great. now it's time for march madness.
  • continuing the thoughts that began here, today there was a shooting on our block. apparently a couple guys were chasing each other in their cars and then shooting at one another. cops were on our block picking up shell casings when meryl came outside. that's always a good sign. also forgot to mention in that same vein that in the last month two houses on our street have been broken into and robbed during the day. we'll see how much better this can get. i guess the next step is for us to get robbed and/or shot at so hopefully this is just a fluke, but, to recap the last couple weeks i have witnessed or lived/worked near the following: two separate instances of psychos getting out of their vehicles in the middle of a highway, two robberies, one armed stand-off with police, one minor riot, one construction disaster that could have killed anyone underneath.