12/31/14 (21:58)
  • can't make this crap up.



    12/24/14 (19:17)

  • so the big news is that we have another kid on the way. probably a girl says one of the technicians at kaiser. i'll be surrounded by girls! should be fun. this is why we went decided to get a new car and to get the bigger truck. we knew were going to have four in the family some time soon and the fiesta wasn't cutting it in the back seat. and the only way to get 4 in a truck is to have a super cab or crew cab so there you go.
  • business hasn't been great lately. a big part of that is that i'm not hustling as much as i used to. still struggling to find a niche and rhythm. still don't have the truck organization up and running because i've been waiting on the drawer pans for a few weeks now. ugh.
  • it'll be nice when the kids are a bit older so christmas will mean something again. definitely isn't how it used to be.
  • glad that the interview will be released after all. pretty pathetic initial response to just cancel it. fucking north korea. i'd drop the bomb on them if i were in charge so i guess it's good i'm not in charge. you can subject your people to awful conditions and threaten war with everyone, but when you start threatening comedy then i draw the line.



    12/14/14 (10:04)

  • got enough time today to put up three pieces of door casing in the laundry room. then i ran out of trim so i had to stop. not much time these days. work and zoe prevent me/us from doing much around the house or watching movies. treading water is more like it. gotta figure out a way to get zoe to entertain herself more. she's good in short spurts, but she mostly wants to hang out with us and has grown accustomed to going out and doing things. better that she's active than a couch potato, but a lot of the time i would prefer to just sit around since work has me driving all over town and generally pretty active.
  • she's also been kinda whiny the past few days. maybe sick, but doesn't seem to be presenting in any way. it's especially true after she comes back from day care two days a week. i guess it could be her making the adjustment from being around a bunch of kids and toys to just hanging with mom and dad.
  • so the storm of the century was just a heavy rain. some flooding which was expected, but overall most of the rest of the country is laughing at us for closing schools and acting like little pansies. it's amazing how pathetic we are when it comes to some things. of course in some areas there was a legitimate concern. i have a customer who runs a house boat dock and that can be a problem with heavy winds and rain. some people live in landslide areas and should be aware of the danger of a heavy rain. but on the whole it was just a storm. the wind really wasn't very bad in the majority of the east bay and the rain was really heavy for only a couple hours.
  • of course because schools closed then some parents had to stay home from work to watch the kids so it really reduced the traffic. i drove around plenty on thursday and friday and didn't run into any traffic. it was as empty as a sunday morning. so, in that way, i'm quite thankful for the overreaction. it cleared all the scared drivers off the roads and made my commutes a lot easier.



    12/10/14 (15:50)

  • bought a used prius on thanksgiving. not sure if i said that already. we went from having a yellow truck and green fiesta to a white prius and gray f150. our total mpg is probably better now by about 10 because the prius is really great. the f150 gets about 12, which is awful, but the ranger got about 16 fully loaded with tools. the fiesta got in the low 30s and the prius gets in the high 40s. they're two ends of the spectrum, but make total sense for what we do.
  • big storm coming. the media is playing like it's going to drown us all. they are recommending we stay home from work. schools are closing all over the place. not one drop has fallen yet and this is what's happening. lots of fraidy cats round these parts. this is the good thing about good ol boys. they may be more likely to say some racist and sexist shit. they may be more likely to have sex with their cousin. but they're also more likely to drag your sorry ass out of a ditch when an inch of rain makes you drive your smart car off the road. and let's be honest, the only thing you know how to do/have the tools for is calling AAA. this is why i'm a big believer in the strength of diversity.



    12/6/14 (16:40)

  • not loving work lately. got a couple jobs that have been annoying and dragging out a bit. should be interesting to see where this all goes in 5 years.
  • oregon owned arizona which was pretty predictable. to beat oregon twice in a season is a pretty tall order. oregon should be able to deal with tcu or fsu without too much trouble. osu is hurt and can only sneak in with a big win or a loss from above them. alabama is the real test.
  • getting lots of rain lately which is good for the state. ultimately, though, people need to do more to take this into their own hands. there was an article about a family that has 15k gallons of storage and it all filled up with these rains. that's what more people need to do. of course that only applies to people with means, but if those people do it then it helps everyone. ag needs to be on board as well. issue isn't going away anytime soon. we have about 1k gallons of storage but it's only used for a plants. we don't have the capacity to use it for flushing toilets or anything, and that would really help.



    12/1/14 (17:39)

  • really hope fsu loses next week. they are really not deserving of the playoff. on the other hand you can't leave them out because of their record and the fact that they won last year.
  • took a few days off for thanksgiving. still did some work of course, but it was bookkeeping and a little job for a neighbor. we were going to go to the asu/az game, but cancelled at the last minute. zoe was sick early in the week and 26 hours in the car with her sounded awful. she ended up being quite the joy these last few days, though, so maybe we could have gone after all. great to hang out with her and teach her stuff. she's learning a lot and is a real little kid now. you can actually interact with her to some extent and she understands a lot more than i would have thought. my approach is to have a high standard and, for the most part, she's met the challenge. she gets me my shoes and socks in the morning. she understands the concept of thanking a person and asking please. she understands cleaning up after herself. she notices a surprising amount of things out in the world as well as in books. she's a real wonderful kid and i'm happy that she's reaching the point where it's a two way relationship.



    11/23/14 (18:41)

  • business is a bit slower right now, but i'm still booked like 3 weeks out. hopefully i get some free time this winter to catch up on things around the house.
  • our health coverage isn't very good and costs quite a bit every time we use it. i also get something from kaiser at least every week. a bill, a notice, something else i don't bother to read. annoying. guess i already mentioned that. well, it's still annoying.



    11/18/14 (19:50)

  • things at the alumni house continue their downward spiral. the boss fired two people on the top management team and now there's an investigation from the campus about how he used funds or something. in the last year 6 people have been laid off and at least 3 other positions haven't been refilled after people quit because they've had enough of the place. so, that's the salaries of at least 9 people in a place that has about 50 staff members on site (many others at the lair of the bear). yet they are still losing money. they just cut benefits and are now charging the employees more. they're also not matching 403b contributions anymore. oh, and no raises this year. it's all pretty unfortunate and also very predictable. from day one i didn't like the guy and talked about funds he took forever to repay. but when you get to a certain level people tend to just look the other way. the only reason the investigation is happening is because one (or both) of the disgruntled/fired managers let the campus know that things weren't right. of course they only did this after they were fired so it's just vengence, not morality, at work here. it's actually kinda cool to see an organization be run so poorly from the inside. usually i hear about these things after the fact in documentaries, but to see it happen up close is different. seeing tower records implode was somewhat similar, but that had a lot more going on. macroeconomic things were happening in the marketplace, the franchise was absolutely huge, and i wasn't nearly as close to the inside so it happened at a greater distance. the fix is easy enough. a new board will be in place next year. they should fire the executive director and hire an ex senior manager who left and is currently unemployed (she took her family out of the country for a year). she has the capacity and experience to run the place and please the board. barring that, they should hire my ex-boss. she has no experience at that level and would be lost in some ways, but she'd solve the two biggest two problems (money and morale) pretty quickly - she's as stingy as they come and literally everyone likes her. she's basically the opposite of the two faced fancy pants loser who's running the place now.
  • college football playoffs are coming up soon and things are interesting. i really don't think fsu is as good as their record, but they deserve to be in. alabama deserves to be in. oregon deserves to be in. the 4th spot is up for debate to me. tcu maybe. miss st. maybe. osu maybe. i hate to say it, but i'd probably give it to miss st. they lost one game to alabama at alabama and were within a td. most of their wins were legit wins instead of scraping by. at LSU was close, but they won. at home against AR was within a td, but all their other wins were convincing.
  • stanford is trash this year and cal is improved.
  • while i was at the utah game there was a guy with a sign that read "byu fan. i need a drink." at that point they had lost like 4 in a row so i guess that was the point. a few people passed him a flask as he walked up the stairs. it was funny and unexpected in salt lake city.
  • i can't begin to tell you how much paperwork i've gotten from kaiser since i joined covered california. if anything important is in there... oh well.



    11/11/14 (08:15)

  • went to utah a couple weekends ago with my dad for our annual usc game. usc lost again (we've seen them lose at stanford, asu, az, and now utah). we've see them win at cal and colorado. it was a great game, though. probably the best of the bunch so far. stanford was also a great game.
  • the people in utah are really stereotypically nice people. we wore our usc stuff and one guy at halftime asked me if the people were treating me well and i said yes. he then asked if i wanted his bratwurst and i said thanks but no thanks. i think he was completely sincere in his offer and it's maybe the nicest a stranger has ever been to me. another guy put his hand on my shoulder and asked if i was from california. i said yes and that we had just come from LA. he said thanks for making the trip up. after the game a college-aged guy was celebrating and giving high fives and yelling "go utah" and all that. he was walking towards us and he saw us and said (quite sincerely) "i'm sorry for your guys' loss."
  • salt lake city itself is a nice place. i've been there three times now and it's always clean and nice. not the most lively city, but there's more food and culture options than you might expect. the red iguana has some great mexican food, for example.
  • it's funny because people talk about "culture" and it's usually a microaggression (i'm going to co-opt that phrase and use it against them here) against white people. a place like SLC is said to not have any culture which really just means that it's overly white and white people don't have culture. basically it's a very narrow-minded, though perfectly acceptable, way of putting down white culture. i'm not going to say that oklahoma city or salt lake city are great fun places that i'd love to live, but this is different from saying that they lack culture. it's just a culture that is high in religion and low in minorities. there are probably fewer hip-hop shows in town (though biz markie and blackalicious will be making separate appearances in the next month or so), but i did see advertisements for punk and metal shows. there will also be plenty of religious musical acts coming through town. the diversity of religious musicians coming through town is probably higher in a place like SLC than it is in most cities its size. but the people who say a place lacks culture are usually the same people who don't like religion or religious music. personally i can't stand christian music, but it's still representative of some culture.
  • took a four day weekend with the family these last few days. it was nice to relax for the first time in a while. usually if i have half a day off or something i just spend it getting ready for the rest of the week or organizing/cleaning up the garage/truck. so, it's time off, but i still count it as work.
  • we redeemed our gift certificate for a stay at sea ranch and spent time up there for about two days. zoe loved the hot tub and beach and we ate out for all our meals so i loved that. it was nice to get away and because of the free room rental it was pretty cheap.
  • yesterday zoe was with gramma so meryl and i watched a movie (our third since zoe was born, i think) and went bowling at a new place in oakland.
  • today is our last day off and we'll probably do a little prepping for the week, but hopefully something fun as well.
  • the elections were a little worse for the dems than i thought. the democrats really should just pack it up and quit. they have some solid things to sell as accomplishments and yet they still found a way to lose big. u6 is almost back to pre-recession numbers, housing seems to have recovered, the dow is high (which is mostly for rich people, but also the average guy's 401k), health insurance has been extended to many, etc. there's also a downside to many of these good things, but that's more subtle so they still should have sold themselves on these accomplishments. the downsides: more people who have been affected by obamacare are saying they have a negative view of it. housing and the dow are mostly recovered for the well off. u6 is still too high.
  • the problem the dems have is that they haven't been able to really make government work they way they think it can. part of that blame goes to the republicans for gumming up the works, but most of it lands on the dems and the government itself. from really minor things like the ebola response and secret service failures to bigger things like the obamacare rollout and the VA debacle. they continue to prove that they can't get the things that are already in place to work properly. so, the public thinks "if you can't drive the car you've had for 6 years, then why would i give you a bigger, more powerful one?" and it's a legitimate question.
  • so, the republicans taking over all of congress is a repudiation of the democrats and their inability to get anything done. but i also think there's the usual anti-incumbent ("throw the bums out") effect happening as well, and that probably accounts for a seat here or there.rf



    11/1/14 (11:23)

  • i don't slow down much anymore. stopping to smell the roses is kind of gone these days. i don't think i was ever great at it, but i definitely used to have more down time than i do now. most of the time i'm trying to rush through whatever i'm doing so i can get done with the next thing. i think that's a major downside to doing what i do and being who i am. those things together almost necessitate that i end up like this.
  • there was a radiolab episode about a guy who would talk really slowly - like one sentence in a minute. in his mind, though, he was talking normally. maybe that's how i am when it comes to getting things done. it happens to me all the time where i'm waiting in line at a store and the checker is moving, in my mind, extremely slowly and i'm just tapping my feet. or i'm with a group and we all say let's go out to eat and we settle on a place (slowly) and then just stand around for five minutes thinking about walking out the door. to me, it should be a quick conversation about who wants what type of food, a decision should be made and then everyone starts walking out the door. this is never the case. maybe it's just the autistic part of my brain that takes things literally. like when someone says "let's go" five times before they actually leave. i'm standing around thinking "i thought 'let's go' meant let's actually walk out the door now."

  • zoe is pretty good at following directions these days. i ask her to get my socks after i take a shower and she gets a smile on her face and opens the drawer and gets me socks. then she says "more" and i ask her to get me my shoes and she (usually) goes and gets them. then she says "more." she loves being helpful. this is part of what makes it so annoying when she doesn't listen to me at all. i tell her not to throw the rocks onto the driveway and she does it anyway. i tell her not to eat berries that have fallen from the neighbor's tree and she does that every time she's out there. okay, so maybe instructions to not do things aren't well-received so then i ask her to take the rocks she's thrown on the driveway and put them back on the gravel walkway. she does it once and i praise her and then she takes a handful of rocks from the walkway and throws them onto the driveway. she's going to do what she wants, i guess; she must be our kid.

    10/30/14 (19:25)

  • more work than time.
  • been watching true detective lately and liking it. almost done.
  • almost caught up with walking dead which is too bad. they could have 10 shows of the walking dead and i'd watch them all. love that kind of stuff.

  • 10/22/14 (19:06)
  • neighbor's house was broken into today. a few months ago the house behind us was broken into. probably just a matter of time before we get hit. hopefully we're gone by then.
  • utah this weekend. lots of driving.
  • zoe's first day of daycare was today. it was sad leaving her, but we pulled the band-aid off and left her. she did well and having a bunch of bigger kids around will probably be good for her. the extra time for meryl will mean she can get more stuff done and that'll be good. two days a week and about $7k a year isn't too bad. guess i'll have to work more!
  • achilles tendons have been uh killing me lately (that one was for johnny). not sure if it is the new boots or just general wear and tear.



    10/21/14 (19:12)

  • been about an average amount of busy lately.
  • i wish more people talked about the fact that kaepernick doesn't have any touch on his throws. it's fastballs or nothing. if he tries to float a pass it's inaccurate, but he normally doesn't even try. to me, this is a major deficiency in his game.
  • slowly but surely making progress on meryl's dad's new house. doing a bunch of lighting. mostly replacing square recessed cans so far which has meant a lot of drywall patching and then installing new cans. lots and lots of electrical which is something i like doing.
  • i don't really see the point in voting for lt. governor. it should be like vp and president. i also don't know how much sense it makes to vote for treasurer or attorney general. most people don't know much about what these people do and know even less about the people running for these posts. let the governor choose them with the consent of the legislature. basically it should be the same as the cabinet for the federal level. the top executive gets to choose their people.
  • it occurs to me that these reforms along with my thoughts on the referendum system hold a common theme - getting rid of some of the democratic power on the state level. i'm okay with that. people are busy and dumb and shouldn't be bothered with some of this stuff.
  • that said, i also think there should be some sort of system of more immediate feedback for elected officials. we have twitter and we can call our representatives, but when it comes to voting (the only feedback that really matters)  it's a one time thing and we're supposed to weigh all the different things those people have done during their term. with the short memories that people have it basically means that we're voting on people based upon what they've done in the last year or, in some cases, what scandal or major issue is being talked about that month. i wish there was a better way of giving that feedback between elections.

  • 10/10/14 (19:13)

  • booked a month out at a time right now. a big part of that is that i'm working one or two days a week for meryl's parents who have a new house. i'm doing a bunch of electrical and other things for that so it takes a chunk of my time. i'm also trying not to work saturdays so that has been slowing me down. working a bit tomorrow, though. next week going to utah with my dad to see usc play.
  • paternal grandma died two weeks ago. went to funeral this monday in fresno. crazy aunt was there so i didn't want to go but then i was a pallbearer so i kinda had to. it was the right thing to do. it was a catholic funeral and burial so there was a lot of talking and ritual. i think that's part of the reason my grandma loved usc football so much. every school has its rituals, but usc's are somewhat unique in their formality and precision. i think being a catholic and a usc fan sort of went together in that way for her.
  • we didn't have lunch afterwards with the rest of the family. dad, sarah, meryl and i went to nene's favorite place instead and had lunch by ourselves. learned about myself a bit by seeing my dad deal with this.
  • the ebola crisis is a bit overblown. transmission rate even among people living together is fairly low. untreated death rate in africa is about 50%, but much lower when you get treatment and catch it early. overall i think this will kill a few thousand people and then fizzle out. it's a dry run for an h1n1 type virus that is much more deadly. h1n1 affected a lot more people and killed more people, but at a lower rate. when we get something that is the worst of both those worlds then we have to worry. all that said, the fact that we have to rely on the federal government and people to slow or stop these pandemics means i'm overall pessimistic about things.
  • i think the referendum system in california needs to go. i held on to the belief that the people have the right to hang themselves so you should give them the rope and see what happens. freedom and direct democracy and all that, but the truth is that we're just too dumb to deal with it and dumb laws get written poorly and passed along by people in front of safeway who don't really know what they're signing and then voted on by people who can't be bothered to understand the consequences of these laws. if it's a simple yes or no like "should gays be allowed to be married as opposite sex couples are?" then i think there's room in the system for that. much more complex than that and it's just a clusterfuck. let the legislators do what they're supposed to be good at (writing laws) and then hold them accountable for their votes. that's difficult enough as it is; no need to add legislate to the list of things the general public needs to do.

  • zoe's such a cool kid. it's great to see her develop.

    9/30/14 (07:41)

  • paternal grandma died on thursday. funeral is next monday. we've become very good at extending life and not very good at making death graceful. we went down there a couple weeks ago and my aunt screamed at us to leave because she didn't know that, along with me and my dad, sarah, meryl and zoe would be coming. basically it was an overly dramatic and idiotic scene. that was the last time any of us saw my grandma so that's unfortunate, but really it's only one memory that i have of her and not the most important. i mostly wanted zoe and her to be together one last time and for her to know that we were thinking of her, so mission accomplished in that way. as for my nutty aunt, that and the funeral may be the last time i see her. oh well.



    9/23/14 (20:16)

  • this is kinda great.



    9/16/14 (19:08)

  • big project this week for meryl's dad/stepmom. doing a bunch of demo. two bathrooms, main living space floor and three fireplace surrounds. did the first day by myself to scout everything out. today we got two laborers and the first bathroom is just about done. tomorrow i'll get four laborers and hopefully finish the bathrooms and make headway on the other stuff. lots to do.
  • haven't had time to get the truck transitioned into my fulltime vehicle yet. that's been kind of a pain because stuff is split between the two. it'll be nice once the new one is all set. will probably get the system one toolbox late next week. system one is a good ladder/lumber rack system. so far i just have the lumber rack, but i'm also getting one of the toolboxes and some little accessories. it should provide easy and secure access to my most commonly used stuff while the drawer system that i build will be for the specialized tasks. so, i have a couple boxes for electrical and plumbing. i have a cleaning and patching box. a painting box. i'll carry my track saw with me from now on. it'll also house things like my extension cords and level and less commonly used tools, but tools that i like to have because they can save me in unexpected circumstances - oscillating tool, grinder, right angle drill, etc.
  • played a couple hours of ultimate frisbee the other day as part of luke's "manstorm," which is the male answer to bridal shower. it was a fun time. the day before i had an 11 hour day putting in baseboards and then patching, caulking and painting them. that's a difficult job because it requires a lot of crouching and bending over and it was on the third floor so i had a couple of flights of stairs to climb after making my cuts. the ultimate frisbee also made me sore, but it proved to me that my job keeps me in better shape than i thought. i'm not in very good aerobic condition, but i wasn't gasping for air the whole time and the sunday didn't feel much worse than saturday after i had done the trim work.
  • we took on a group of 18 year olds and beat them which was kinda cool. we're all in our early to mid-30s and it was good to hear that i'm not the only one who doesn't feel 20 anymore. teaching the young kids a few things on the field was like something out of a midlife crisis movie, only we're about 10 years away from it being at all significant.
  • i don't know much about the scotland vote to split, but i've heard that it's very close and looking like they might actually split. this is all according to polls, though, and when it comes to these things i think people talk a little bigger than they actually vote. if i had to bet on it, i'd bet that the split won't happen. a lot of uncertainty and, from the outside, it doesn't seem like they stand to benefit all that much.
  • hillary is flirting with the presidential run in iowa right now. it's kinda hilarious how they test the waters and drum up support in iowa and new hampshire while playing coy with the press. "i'm looking at the issue right now and can't say whether i'll run or not....i can say that i'm worried about where the country is going and hopeful that someone can lead us to the next level of greatness." or some such nonsense. for anyone who pays attention it's quite obvious what is going on in these situations, but they feel the need to not jump into the race too soon for fear that they'll peak too early or something. weird dynamic.
  • re: the ray rice thing. okay, he's a piece of shit and that's obvious. i love how everyone piles on these guys in these really obviously shitty situations as if they're super progressive. donald sterling or ray rice or name your scandal and the ensuing outrage. the problem with some of these situations is it's not as cut and dried or black and white as the media and mainstream twits will have you think. i've seen the video and i have common sense, her are the facts as i see them: ray rice has probably done something violent (other than football) in the past and his fiancee (now wife) probably knew about it before she got in that elevator with him. at the time maybe she liked the fact that he was a bad ass. maybe she didn't and she talked with him about it (going out on a limb: this is less likely). either way it didn't affect her choice to get engaged with him. she gets in the elevator with him and they aren't happy with each other. she hits him. he hits her harder. people call him a misogynist, call for him to be fired, etc. she marries him. he gets fired.
  • if you just look at the popular coverage and tweets on this issue it's obvious that he's 100% to blame and that he hates women. the pendulum, in my opinion, has swung too far here. when a woman hits a man is it because she hates men? does solange hate men because she hit jay-z like 50 times in an elevator? the difference is that she's not as strong as ray rice so she didn't knock jay-z out. oh, and she's a woman. why isn't janay at least an itsy bitsy bit to blame for this? she got with the guy, she hit the guy, she married the guy (after she got knocked out by him). why hasn't anyone i've ever talked with about this mentioned the fact that it looks like she hits him first?
  • i don't shed any tears for him losing his job. good riddance. but i also think it's horse shit how outraged the country is when this stuff happens and they never seem to realize that sometimes two stupid people deserve (and choose) each other. zimmerman stalks trayvon martin and martin doesn't calmly ask him if he needs anything, instead he confronts him and they get in a fight and zimmerman acts like a little bitch by shooting him. janay probably knows that ray rice can be violent and decides to get engaged to the guy. then she hits him thinking she can get away with that because women are allowed to hit men (i wonder if hannah storm's daughter asked why solange wasn't in jail after assaulting jay-z) and then she gets knocked out and then she marries the guy (going out on a limb again: probably for the money). it's a fucked up world and fucked up people are attracted to each other. sometimes they get what they ask for.
  • while i'm talking about horse shit. i think it's horse shit that almost every time we talk about race and racism in this country we're really just talking about black people; sometimes hispanics. but not native americans and certainly not asians. it really annoys the hell out of me.
  • meryl dropped off some lunch for us at work today and brought zoe. the guys were upstairs making lots of noise and zoe didn't like it much so i took her downstairs and held her in my arms. she rested her head on my shoulder while i rocked her and then she hummed "thank you" and my heart melted just a little. it's literally the sweetest thing ever. she's such a well-mannered kid sometimes. she signs "please" and she hums "thank you" a lote. oftentimes she does it unprovoked, too, which is awesome. if she gets a little rock in her shoe or something and you take it out she'll hum "thank you" and it's quite sweet. other times she'll point at something she wants and grunt and then eat it or whatever; i guess she's still a kid.



    9/6/14 (09:22)

  • levi's is the most expensive stadium in the country. makes sense - expensive area, expensive and new stadium. the amount of stuff they buy in that article is kind of crazy - four hot dogs, four drinks, two programs, etc. no family needs two beers and four soft drinks and two programs - learn to share you weirdoes. anyway, the point is taken that a middle class family is effectively priced out of going to a niners game. i don't see myself going to a niners game any time soon. too far, too expensive, too harbaughy.
  • zoe is having a good time exploring the backyard these days. she's been picking tomatoes and playing with rocks and all that. there was a dead rat that i guess a neighborhood cat left for us, but other than that the backyard is a fairly safe place. i think it's awesome that at 15 months old she's very comfortable being outside on her own and exploring new things. can't wait until she's older and can learn about tools. wish we had gotten that elvessa house so she could explore an entire acre of space along with much more space that made up the easement. blah.



    9/2/14 (15:37)
    this guy serves the worst stadium food i've had and he's a dog abuser? just string him up already and do the world a service.

    8/24/14 (08:07)

  • minor earthquake last night. 6.0 apparently, but didn't do much here. we woke up, but went right back to sleep because it felt like maybe a 4.0.
  • bought a truck yesterday. was pretty nervous about it because even though it was used, it was a lot of money to spend. 2006 f-150 supercab, long bed. 35k miles on it for half the cost of a new truck. hope to get 10 years out of it. right now my two biggest frustrations with the business are scheduling and not having what i need when i need it. a bigger truck should go a long way toward having enough room to have 90% of the tools i could need on an average job. along with plenty of room for materials and trash/recycling generated by the job. it also has plenty of locking space up front for my compressor or whatever tools may not fit into my drawer system which i'll have to design and build. also plenty of room for the family. it's a pretty stripped down truck - no power anything and the radio is only am/fm, but those things are fixed pretty cheaply. i can install a new radio for under $150 and can get power doors and an alarm for about $500.
  • going to try to learn to relax more.
  • worked at the alumni house this last week. the plan is to be there once a month for a day to take care of their maintenance. not as much as i was doing before of course, but as much of the regular stuff that crops up as i can get done in a day. get free parking too so that makes it worth the lower rate i get than i would otherwise. plus, it's an easy day for me where i don't have to think about anything before i get there. those are the best days - just show up and do my thing. most of my jobs these days require more forethought than that, though.



    8/17/14 (19:57)

  • today we went to see the first niners football game at their new stadium. zoe stayed with meryl's dad. overall i have to say it wasn't worth $1.3 billion. it's a new place, the paint looks good. the solar panels are cool and it's great that it is structurally sound in eq country. all that said, the money is outrageous. the parking situation is pathetic. the food sucks. what they charge for everything is outlandish. and i don't even like the niners that much these days so i can be more objective about the whole thing. i went to candlestick once and honestly i don't remember the experience being any worse than this. for two people with tickets and parking and food the cost is about $240 according to one article i read. for that same experience in candlestick the price would have been under $90. is it worth $1.3 billion to increase the price by $150? maybe it is if you're getting closer to the rich kids in silicon valley who are willing to pay $14 for a drink.
  • also, there are a couple sections that are off-limits to regular ticket holders, which i find pretty insulting. we actually snuck into one of these sections and found that the food selections are better, there's conditioned indoor space, etc. it's a pretty elitist setup. with regards to the parking, we didn't find anything under $40 so we parked 2 miles away and walked. i've been to dozens of stadiums and parks around the country and this is never a real problem. they make it more difficult at this stadium than anywhere else i've been. the whole thing felt like a giant elitist money grab which perfectly coincided with the reemergence of the niners as an NFL powerhouse. well played rich guys, well played.



    8/10/14 (11:11)

  • recent pew polling suggests that the younger generations are less democratic than in the past. many of them are moving toward libertarianism. this makes sense because:
  • 1) the federal government since 9/11 has been essentially inept or evil. i have a crappy memory, but this includes everything from multiple scandals to iraq/afghanistan to the VA troubles to the failed roll out of obamacare and its multiple lawsuits to immigration woes (no matter what side you're on) to failing infrastructure to failed regulation of the financial sector and everything in between. basically the country has done very poorly in federal government for at least the last 13 years. beyond that i honestly can't think of any major federal programs that have been major successes in the last 50 or so years. civil rights laws and such have been good progress, but those are laws, not government programs. i'm probably (hopefully) forgetting something, but of all things that the federal government puts its weight, authority and resources behind, the batting average over the last 50 years has been extraordinarily low. maybe there are some major successes, but i can't think of them. even the one thing that both parties agree on (anti-terrorism and military spending) in the last 15 years has been a failure. the shoe bomber, the times square plot, etc. were thwarted by individual citizens. the boston bombing wasn't stopped. iraq is in total disarray. afghanistan has had some success with empowering women and we killed bin laden. i'd call that mixed results.
  • 2) you tube and the internet has shown humanity to be nakedly stupid. and, everyone (including me) thinks they have enough common sense. ask someone if they think they have common sense and i'd be shocked if you find more than a few people who don't think they have it. everyone looks at people on the internet being idiots and laughs at them and i think this and a feeling of superiority, coupled with the utter failure of the federal government for this generation, leads to an ideology that tends more towards social darwinism than we should all look out for each other and the government should be the tool with which we do that.
  • i used to have faith in the federal government to get things done. it is uniquely poised to address a host of issues that the states and individuals can't, or can't easily, deal with effectively. that's less true now because the private sector is becoming quite powerful. it's also less true now because while the government can theoretically do things to solve problems, it just doesn't actually do them.
  • still unhappy about the house. was thinking yesterday that i should have just cashed in my IRA; early tax penalties be damned. that would have been another 55k and even though it would have been 30k short of the high offer, maybe it would have been good enough. i think our letter and our story added some value and since the trust was owned by two sisters, every extra dollar in the offer only means 50 cents in each of their pockets. so, 30k short would be 15k per person and maybe the sentimentality of having a family in there instead of an investor would have made that difference.
  • pretty annoying that the high offer was 85k over the second highest offer. it really feels unfair when i think about that. wtf were those people thinking by offering so much? blah.
  • the real estate market around here is bonkers right now.
  • did a bathroom facelift for a neighbor this week. new beadboard, baseboard, chair rail, vanity. drywall over one wall and plaster repair on a couple others. moved the toilet supply line and added a vent fan, light and outlet. she's going to paint and then i'll come back to finish it up with a towel rod and mount a couple cabinets. bigger job than i would normally take on, but it was for a neighbor so i could come home and pick up stuff i forgot. that helps a good deal because you don't have to set up a temporary work station to do cutting and i don't have to think ahead quite as much. also allows me to empty the truck for taking stuff to the dump, but still have plenty of tools on hand.



    8/6/14 (07:14)

  • didn't get the house. totally depressed. it was our dream house in basically every way, but we didn't have enough money apparently. offered 50 over asking and it wasn't enough. kinda pathetic that i'm so depressed about it, but then again whose dream house has at least four (mold, fungus, asbestos, lead) different kinds of environmental disasters in it? i really wanted to see zoe running around in that big backyard, exploring the property and the adjoining trails and open spaces. she would be able to walk to school from there. we would have had so much space and all it needed was the type of work that we love doing. can't always get what you want.



    8/03/14 (11:20)

  • cashing in most of our life savings to make an offer on this place in the next two days. front bedroom has a collapsed floor (literally and completely). about 400 sq. feet of major fungal damage in the crawl space, surface mold on the west side of the building, asbestos pipe insulation and hvac ducting, extremely badly peeling lead paint on the exterior. in other words, it's perfect. literally the only way we'll be able to stay in the east bay (meryl's wish) and have more than a small amount of land (my wish) is to get something that's really badly damaged goods like this. feeling very nervous because all we'll have left money-wise is our IRA and keeping a new business going while working on a house with this much work that needs to be done, and a one year old, and life in general...it'll be tough. the really good news is that it has an in-law unit out back that we could fix and rent out for a little extra money to help us make our mortgage payments.
  • all the most scary stuff (to most) is also thankfully relatively cheap to fix. fungus, asbestos, lead...it just takes the proper safety precautions, time, and a willingness to be hot and cramped while dealing with it. i've been under homes for a week at a time before. i've been hot and cramped and sweaty with a respirator on. i don't love it, but it doesn't scare me. elbow grease is free. same goes for restructuring the floor. lumber is relatively cheap and building a floor usually isn't much of a challenge. when the labor is free the calculus is much different. also, we're looking at this house on a 50 year horizon (we want to live there forever), whereas most investors (probably our main competition) are looking at getting in and out as quickly as possible.

  • was thinking pretty hard about a new truck. was liking eating out whenever i felt like it. if this house happens then both those things are on hold for a long while. but i definitely want this house more than any other thing i've ever wanted before.

    7/30/14 (19:22)

  • took a look at some projects at andre iguodala's house today. i'm scheduled for working there on monday which would be my first bona fide famous client. kinda cool.



    7/27/14 (10:54)

  • i never talked about donald sterling. probably a good reason for that. he's just another idiot who happened to get caught saying dumb shit. popular culture pounced on him for a week and then boko haram or something more interesting came along. next.
  • i think a big impediment to my happiness is my unrealistic expectations. someone says they'll do something and i actually expect it to happen. i expect people to be aware of their surroundings or show up on time. i expect people to act semi-rationally. all these things are just disappointment waiting to happen. i wish i could be more of a stoic in this regard. stoics believe that you should just always expect the worst and so when things turn out okay or good then it's a nice surprise. unfortunately i've never been able to turn that part of my brain off, though i've definitely tried.



    7/22/14 (19:57)

  • one thing about working for yourself that i like is that hard work is rewarded and rewarded more immediately. my last boss was great and always thanked me when i did a good job. she was a great boss when it came to being positive and flexible, but most bosses aren't that good. when you do a good job it's just expected and there's very little positive feedback. that said, positive feedback is just talk. even a great boss like mine wasn't able to give me the raises that she would have liked. if you work in a great company that is doing well then you probably have a good boss who tells you that you're appreciated and then shows it with raises, bonuses, increased schedule flexibility, etc. when you work hard for yourself you can see the benefit pretty quickly. the harder you work (assuming you're in a decent line of work, the economy is decent, and you're running a good business) the more you make. when i was on a salary it was very easy to get into a situation where i just did enough to keep the bosses happy and get my paycheck (which never changed by much). i did some things to save the company a lot of money? i got the same paycheck. i effed up and cost the company money? same paycheck. it's actually a very bizarre situation when you think about it that way.
  • sometimes people will talk about time and money as the same thing - "time is money." they reason that if they spend 2 hours on the phone with the credit card company to get a $40 charge turned around it's a waste of their time because they make $45/hour so they theoretically just wasted $50 (2 hours working could have earned them $90, instead they got $40 = $50 difference). this line of reasoning always assumes that you have unlimited earning potential, which very few people actually have. most people can work up to 40 hours a week while at work and after that they need to get their overtime approved. or, they're on salary and so every hour they work earns them less money per hour (another bizarre situation when you think about it). but, if you work for yourself, it's actually more possible to make money the longer you choose to work. for example, i could market myself as more of a cabinet builder and could work from home all night while doing service calls all day and could earn even more money. this assumes a steady stream of customers, but that's less of a leap than the average worker who is salaried, or working hourly with a cap on the number of hours they can work, somehow making more money by working more.
  • of course the opposite is true as well. the nice thing about a salary is that you're guaranteed $40k/year or whatever. sure. however, the company is also guaranteed about 2000 hours of work from you a year. so, you're paycheck never changes much, but neither does your workload. if i feel like i have enough money then i can work less and just tell people that i'm booked for the next month and they can get in line if they want.
  • all this is to say that it's kinda cool to be closer to a situation where i can work more and make more or relax more and make less; whatever i choose.
  • hillary is such the consummate politician. everything i've heard so far about the book is that it's totally sanitized tripe. this makes sense of course since she's a politician through and through. there's not much that's worse than a politician like that. power hungry and spineless. all that said, i stand by what i said in 2008 - i'd rather see her in the white house than obama. she has more of a stomach for it, she had more experience, she could have hit the ground running whereas obama's first year was marred by missteps and cluelessness.
  • at this point i think i've given up on anyone ever reach the white house who is worth two shits. the system we have precludes the kind of leader any reasonable person would actually want in the office. it's like having a beauty contest to determine the chair of nobel prize committee. what are the attributes that are required to become president? ability to raise lots of money. look decent. good talker. media savvy. not ruffle feathers. off the top of my head those are five of the biggest under our current system. none of those are in the top ten when it comes to being a decent president. good talker might be in the top 15. it's a total farce.
  • gaza is up to its usual tricks. not sure why anyone pays attention to this nonsense anymore. and don't give me some crap about saving human lives. many more human lives are lost thanks to preventable illnesses than these shitty little wars they have every 10 years. leave them be and let them figure it out. i couldn't care less. and that's coming from someone who, according to their own bizarre laws, is jewish. it's just another damn distraction from the real business of running a country. how many millions of man hours have been wasted by american presidents and policy wonks because of this nonsense for the last 60 years? has their been a president in that time who hasn't had to spend time trying to smooth things over between them? all of the varied efforts of carter and clinton and bush and obama and everyone else have led to this moment where they're fighting again. what if all those man hours spent thinking about the issue and studying it and trying to broker peace and writing about it were spent on trying to get the VA modernized or on finding a sprinter in america who can beat usain bolt?



    7/19/14 (19:40)

  • zoe did a lot of walking today. some of meryl's family was here and she got that look on her face and we cheered her on so she took several steps into my arms. then she crawled back to where she had started before and walked to me again. we all cheered and she repeated it several times. each time taking several steps and mostly doing a good job of not falling. it was awesome. it's the simple pleasures sometimes.
  • this has been a good month for us money-wise. last month we weren't getting paid very quickly so we took out less than our settled upon salary. people don't like talking about money for some reason, but i'll do it anyway. the salary we want to take out each month is $4500. i get 2/3 and meryl gets 1/3 and then we split that 50/50 to pay for common expenses. i do all the handyman work and all the invoicing for those accounts, but she does some property management for her brother through the company and handles some of the bookkeeping so that's the split. this would leave me with $36k/year which is enough to live fairly well, but it's also about 10% less than i was making in salary at the alumni house (and i was only working 4 days a week there, never more than an 8 hour day). the idea is that this $36k/year is enough, but we should make more and it'll stay in the bank in case we need a new truck for the business or some fancy tools or customers take too long to pay us, etc. so, the bank account shouldn't go below $10k. if we have $13k at the end of the month then we take out $3k and split it instead of the agreed upon salary of $4.5k/month. that's what happened last month. this month we'll have more than $14.5k, though, but instead of taking out the difference between the bank balance and the $10k cushion, we take out the max salary of $4.5k. after a while hopefully that cushion grows more and more and we can put it in savings to buy some land or upgrade the truck when that time comes or whatever. maybe we'll take a vacation some day.
  • speaking of the truck, it had a misfire problem the other day so i took it into the shop. missed my job that day which sucked. $700 later it was ready to go and i only missed one appointment. meryl had to drive me around a bit and i had to work with the tools i had on hand so it was a pain, but not awful. while going to my appointment the next day it started doing it again but i drove it anyway and got my work done. took it back that day and they found another problem and fixed it for no charge. either they felt bad that they missed that additional issue or the issue the whole time was the second thing they fixed. either way it's working now. got a new coil pack, intake manifold gasket and some other electrical part. cost of doing business i guess.
  • the other money thing i've been dealing with is what to charge people. if someone calls me out of the blue i charge $75 for the first hour and $55/hr after that. this seems right about even with the market price for a decent handyman in this area, though i don't think most of them have a first hour charge that is higher. i toyed with the idea of a 2 hour minimum, but that usually wasn't as well received and then it gets me into a situation where someone just wants their outlet fixed, i fix it in 20 minutes and then they feel compelled to find another 1.5 hours of work for me to do to get their money's worth. that usually ends up being more trouble than its worth. friends (i have about 6 of them) and family get $40/hr. people on the street get charged $45/hr. they're neighbors so that counts for something, but even better than that is that the commute is so easy. if i forget something it's no problem for me to walk home and get it. jobs for neighbors are easier so i pass that convenience onto them in the form of a discount. after that there are people who are in the middle like ex co-workers who i'm not quite sure what to charge. they're not friends or family, but i'm friendly with them so maybe i should waive the first hour charge? that's what i'm leaning towards now. money makes people weird.
  • i had a lawyer client who asked what i charged and when i told her she said something like she was in the wrong profession. she's a single mom living in a house that's 50% more than mine and she drives a lexus so i'm not quite certain what she was talking about. i've only gotten that reaction once and i just told her that i'm not billing anywhere near 40 hours a week and i talked with her about overhead and she understood, but i guess she still felt like i charged a lot. but then she had me fix and paint her front gate and front door so i guess i didn't charge too much.
  • i haven't had any really difficult clients yet either. some people are very picky about every little thing. some people want to tell you how to do your job. other people just want a problem solved and nothing more. i tend to like jobs where aesthetics are as much of a consideration. i like jobs where the customer just wants something to work safely and properly. getting things to work is easier for me than getting things to look really nice. maybe that's one reason i like electrical work. usually it's quite easy to make electrical look good because it's not my job to design and paint the light. it's relatively easy to make an outlet upright instead of crooked. but once you get into making perfectly tight miters on a piece of crown molding or something like that...less easy and more room for interpretation. what looks nice to one person is awful to another. there's no room for interpretation when it comes to an outlet working or not.
  • i'm actually one of those customers who wants to guide people when they do work for me. i don't hover and tell them how to do things, but i want to know that they're using the right materials or that they have a good reason for not using what i think are the right materials. i used to have the attitude of letting the professionals do what they do every day. the problem with that is that most people are kinda dumb and don't do a very good job - from lawyers and politicians down to fast food workers and handymen. i've seen lots of pros do shoddy work for me in the past so i no longer have the attitude that they know what they're doing and i should just trust them.
  • one good example was the bathroom tile job at the alumni house. when we met with them there were two tile guys - one boss and one installer - one general contractor who was overseeing the whole renovation and a campus capital projects supervisor who was also overseeing the whole project. then there's the customer - me and my boss. we saw the samples and talked about timeline, but they never talked with us about the possibility of using epoxy or urethane grout. we talked with them about using white grout, but the 80 or so years of experience from those four guys didn't benefit us one bit because none of them mentioned the fact that cementitious grout stains quite quickly whereas epoxy or urethane grouts don't. i talked with the installer about the need to seal the floor (i didn't know of other grout options at the time) and he said there was no need. so, the grout looked nice and clean for about a week and now it's basically black. four people in charge of making this job happen, only one of them was ever going to actually touch the tile and none of them said anything about a very basic issue with the material they had chosen or the color we picked out.



    7/17/14 (07:43)

  • zoe has been doing a lot of walking around with our help lately. it's affected her sleep a bit and she's not confident enough to walk on her own much, but that should come soon enough.



    7/13/14 (10:17)

  • another reason why our trip to SF was a failure. meryl parked my truck around the corner from where we were working and when i went to pick it up i saw this:

  • i wish i had taken a picture of how the truck was parked. it was as close to the adjacent driveway as you can get without being in it in an obnoxious way. in other words, it was taking up as little space as possible. yes, it's a truck. a relatively compact truck by today's standards. yet i get this faux ticket for taking up too much space and possibly driving an ego machine. sorry if people like to have running water and electricity and things that work well and look nice in their homes. sorry if the maintenance of such a lifestyle requires a lot of tools and a lot of space to store and haul those tools and materials. this kind of thing is so stereotypically SF that i'm not sure i could write a better parody of it. it reminds me of this mr. money mustache post which is exactly the type of post i would have written if i were trying to make fun of him. i guess i'm just not committed enough for some people. i suppose i should have brought my tools on my bike. i should have biked across the bay bridge (even though the bike lane isn't complete yet) while towing my tools in an obnoxiously large trailer behind me. it's only a 20 mile bike ride each way and the hills probably wouldn't slow me down at all. there's no place to park a bike with a large trailer so i could have just blocked the sidewalk and i suppose this person would have been happier. sure, it would have taken me 6 hours just in travel and set up time and so i'd have to charge $250/hr for 2 hours of work to put up cameras to catch a thieving piece of shit that the SFPD didn't feel like arresting for trespassing or threatening my father in law with violence, but, hey, i'd be doing the earth a solid and this guy would have been happy. nevermind the fact that my ford ranger is 187.5" long and a 2013 subaru legacy is 189" long. it's a truck so it has to be an ego machine, right? your hipster subaru is 1.5" longer than my gas guzzling truck so i'm the asshole.
  • people like that need a swift kick in the nuts.



    7/12/14 (15:19)

  • been a rough week. meryl had a mini meltdown when her dad's key didn't work at her brother's property in sf so i canceled my morning appointment and went out there with her to take care of that. turns out her key didn't work either because the ex-owner of the unit had the lock changed. then he returned and the cops showed up so we thought it best to secure the condo so i canceled my afternoon appointment to setup 3 cameras and barricade the back door with a couple 2x4s. as we were finishing up with that the guy showed up with two henchmen. luckily i had googled his name earlier so i knew what he looks like. i stayed in the building as his guys came up and tried to get into the unit. meryl's dad called the cops and within minutes there were 6 cops there. he claimed that a judge had just ruled in his favor and that the unit was his, but had no paperwork to back up this claim. the cops seemed to believe us, but, in true SF fashion, allowed him to stay on the premises without any kind of documentation (meryl's dad had an electronic copy of the deed on his phone, meanwhile). i leave the details there, but suffice it to say that in pretty much any reasonable jurisdiction (i.e., not SF, berkeley or maybe a few other crazy places) this guy would have been in handcuffs within minutes of the cops arriving and vince showing them the deed. instead, they told all of us to stay away from the property until someone could get a court order and eviction notice to settle the matter. it's truly amazing how much a person can fuck with you if they have money and don't care about being reasonable.
  • my solution would be to get the court order and go through that process and then have 2-3 guard dogs on the property and leave the door unlocked. the problem solves itself at that point. this, i guess, is where i'm very much on the conservative end of the spectrum. i believe strongly in social darwinism in a case like this. the stereotypical conservative would say he can trespass at his own peril and i can stand my ground with a 12 gauge shotgun. the stereotypical liberal would say that he's a mentally ill person who needs help and we should go through the proper channels and maybe even just let him live there because he needs the condo more than i do.
  • while on the way back from dealing with the cops and all that b.s. we were in horrible SF traffic on the way back home. why anyone likes or wants to live in that fucking city is beyond me. it's a hell hole by nearly every measure. anyway, we were literally rolling at a snail's pace and the truck started to overheat. turns out i was low on coolant. i've never noticed a leak and i know i filled it up a few months ago so that's troubling. i topped it off with the drinking water i keep with me and kept going.
  • today i went to my morning appointment and the customer didn't answer the door.
  • then i was on my way to my afternoon appointment and the check engine light flashed on and off which means an engine misfire. it was running pretty rough, too. so i canceled that appointment and drove slowly to a nearby mechanic (thank you yelp). it was running fine at this point, but after the tests it looks like the coil pack needs replacing and the coolant leak was coming from the intake manifold gasket. probably $600 which isn't a huge deal, but it comes as four appointments were missed in a week for various reasons so that sorta hurts. on the other hand, we're owed like $10k in old invoices so it's not like i'm going to the poor house.
  • being on my own has been a mixed blessing so far. most of my days are 10-12 hours of work or work related activities. so, i'm working a lot more and stressed out a lot more. i'm also making more money than i've ever made, but that figure is artificially high because of a couple lucky big jobs from meryl's brother and a neighbor. we also finally closed out a large project that we were managing so that was a big payday for us.

  • went to the dj shadow concert yesterday with jon. shadow, blackalicious, jurassic 5, lateef the truth speaker, lyrics born, cut chemist, dilated peoples, supernatural, and souls of mischief were all there. good lineup. overall i have to say that hip-hop doesn't translate to live shows that well for me. the lyrics are never as clear to me and this show in particular had a bad board operator so things were out of balance and muddy. maybe it was my mood, but the excessive pot smoke and repetitive shout outs to the bay area got old as well. missed dilated people and supernatural. i've seen dilate peoples before, but not supernatural who i think won a freestyle contest or two in his heyday. blackalicious made blazing arrow which is one of my favorite albums of all-time, but i've seen them three times live and never been super thrilled by the show they put on. for some reason jurassic 5 were the headliners for the show, but that's crap. they're good, but they're not as good as dj shadow. overall the djs (shadow, cut chemist, nu-mark) stole the show.

    6/26/14 (18:53)

  • one thing everyone says about being a parent is that you should savor every moment because time flies. 1. i feel like i do. i always think about how precious zoe is now and what she'll be like when she grows up and i won't be able to kiss her whenever i want or how i'll be really uncool to her or whatever. 2. i don't feel like time flies. i guess people experience time differently, but for me the last year hasn't flown by at all. it feels like a really long time ago when meryl was pregnant. i also remember valuing every late morning we spent in bed with zoe as she was a newborn. i remember less fondly the nights when she was up until 4am and we had no idea what to do. i feel like i do a good job of savoring it all. of course i wish i had more time and money so i could do whatever i wanted whenever i wanted, but that's not real life for most people so you savor the moments when you can.
  • kids books about construction are often woefully inaccurate. for example we have a book about trucks and it talks about the cement truck mixing the cement. it should be a concrete truck mixing concrete. cement is an ingredient in concrete, though the two are used interchangeably. there's another book that shows a house being built and it's well meaning and all, but they show some highly inaccurate wall framing which aggravates me to the point where i have to tell zoe that you can't in fact frame a header without a jack stud, or approved hardware in lieu of a jack stud.



    6/22/14 (09:37)

  • achy this morning. feel good about working hard, though.
  • i have this habit of writing with a lot of "buts" in my sentences. i'll say something in one direction and then hedge it in the other. i've used the word "but" 16 times on this page so far. i have to guess that that's above average. "however," "though," and other associated phrases and words are also favorites of mine. i don't think i speak like this, but i definitely write like this. what does this say about me? it seems to imply that i see different sides of the same issue. i'm often split on a topic. when writing reviews i hardly ever give unqualified praise or criticism. i'll say that the acting stinks, but that so and so was at least good in it. i even found myself doing this when talking to my old boss about zoe. "i'll love her forever and unconditionally, but not if she becomes a nazi and wants to kill all the jews or something." even as something as clear as my love for my daughter comes with a qualification - an unlikely one, but one nonetheless.

  • 6/21/14 (17:46)
  • long day in a cramped crawl space today. had a helper (old boss' middle son) and, once he showed up (he slept in), we got a lot done. working on an earthquake retrofit for a neighbor. now that i've done it on my house and worked out the kinks, i think this job will be fairly profitable. not an easy job and not an easy job to sell. i didn't sell this one per se, but i did point out to them about a year ago that the eq retrofit that was done before was pretty much a joke and wasn't sure if they had paid someone to do it or what. they didn't, but then they decided to get it done right. having help on something like this certainly makes the job less painful.
  • inhaled a lot of dirt while i was down there, but i can't stand to wear dust masks under the house. it's just one thing too many.
  • looking forward to the us/portugal match tomorrow. i don't foresee the u.s. winning, but i'm hopeful.
  • i'm so tired of iraq and the middle east. we've fucked things up. they can't seem to get their shit together with or without our "help." we should move to other sources of fuel and be done with it. i don't like fracking. i don't like nuclear power. but those are both preferable to our being entangled in the b.s. that goes on over there. if anyone bombs israel we can help, but short of that we shouldn't be doing anything over there anymore. bush failed. obama failed. only biden was on the right track with his idea of splitting the country in three parts, but even that would have required our intervention which is too much in my book.



    6/17/14 (07:44)

  • zoe was playing with toilet water yesterday. she was quiet for a while so i knew something was up. she also got into a bedside drawer; literally - she crawled inside and was stuck there. she's our little adventurer.
  • keeping busy.



    6/14/14 (15:24)

  • sold my festool vacuum today. decided to get the smaller one now that it is HEPA certified. the guy i sold it to is in charge of making a bunch of parade floats in sf. they were working on the gay pride floats now and he showed us around. pretty cool.

  • 6/10/14 (19:01)
  • have three pretty big jobs lined up for the next couple of months. bigger jobs mean more stress because more can go wrong, but they're better for me in the long run. small jobs are nice because i can knock them out quickly and there's usually not much that goes wrong, but a small job can lose money quickly. if i'm working on getting a door to stopping opening on its own and i break the hinge then i just bought a new hinge for someone on something that was only going to make me $10 anyway. if i'm putting in 20' of trim i'm only making a small amount of money, but if i hit a copper water line in the process then i could lose thousands. my insurance is supposed to cover that kind of thing, but do i want them to drop me or raise my rates? should i just cover the cost of that? so, small jobs mean low upside and potentially big downside. big jobs mean high upside and potentially big downside.
  • one concern i have right now, though it gets smaller with every new customer i get, is how much i rely on yelp for leads. i haven't put together the numbers, but a decent amount of our business comes from leads where people find us through yelp. we only have 6 reviews, but they're all 5 stars so that helps us a lot. one bad review there could put us onto the 4th or 10th page of search results depending upon what someone searches for. i could pay for a leads service. i could pound the pavement and do marketing that way. of course i'd prefer to just let yelp do that for me and continue to get the trickle of leads for free.
  • got married the other day. it was already official, but this time was different since it was in front of most of the people who matter to us. i don't really like parties and i'm like my grandpa in that i don't like my space to be upended, but it was overall a good day. way too much food and too many presents, but those things sort of mirror how i feel about having a family that i think works pretty well. too much good stuff. i've thought a lot more these days about death and how all of this is going to end some day. it makes me much more sad than it did a few years ago. i was happy a few years ago. this is different.



    6/4/14 (12:16)
    a lot more spare time on my hands these days. i can come home between jobs and i'm finally able to fit customers into my schedule in a timely manner. burning through gas like crazy though. i did anticipate that. we'll see how close to budget that is after this first month.

    5/30/14 (16:18)

  • yesterday was my last official day of work at the alumni house which means today was my first day self-employed. i had two jobs lined up so i didn't think about it much. the next couple weeks will be interesting mentally, though.
  • replaced 3 lights and a ceiling fan today. along with some light plumbing and demo work. easy day, two customers, decent money.
  • bad news was that last night my tooth hurt pretty bad after having a filling last week. woke up in the middle of the night and it hurt again. called dentist and they said it usually means root canal when you wake up from the pain. no more dental insurance means this could be a problem. we'll see.
  • the next year or so should be interesting.
  • good riddance to shinseki. the popular response that i've heard so far is that he's just a scapegoat and he's actually a good guy or whatever. gimme a fucking break. the VA is a joke, everyone knows it, he didn't fix it. time for accountability. david brooks called it a bloodletting. boo-hoo. it's very simple when you break it down - the VA sucks. shinseki was in charge since 2009. he didn't fix it. time to go. next.
  • in my exit interview at the alumni house i was asked a series of questions and a couple of them were about what i thought could be done to make CAA better. i told the HR woman my honest opinion which included describing the executive director as "inept" and "clueless" which she wrote down on the sheet and i signed. basically, i didn't pull any punches, though i did forget to add some things. for example, before he was in charge of the organization there were a few people there who would almost die for CAA and loved working there. as of this date, those people are either gone, totally jaded, or looking for a new job. no amount of slick talk or explanation makes that kind of stuff disappear. time for some more accountability, imo.
  • i haven't been a businessman for very long and i've been wholly self-employed for only a day now, but i can see very clearly why small business people vote for republicans more than democrats. 1. they want the government to get out of the way and make running a business easier. republicans generally agree with this stance, while dems don't. 2. they think about money more. this one is the revelation to me. everyone thinks about money, but i don't think they think about it in the same way that a business person does. the way i thought about money before was in terms of budgeting and what i was going to do every two weeks with my paycheck. i knew with pretty good accuracy what i was going to get on any given paycheck. the way i think about money now is harder to describe. it's like a farmer who needs it to rain a certain amount during a season or can't have it frost before a certain date. i can do my best to capture the rain when it happens and store it for later. i can cover my crops to keep them a few degrees warmer in the winter. but some of this stuff is just out of my hands. i can't make people buy what i'm selling. i think about money now in terms of how much can i make a day, week, month to make ends meet and make all this worth it. i'm doing math in my head all the time to see if i'm making my goals. to see if a job is profitable. to see if buying a tool makes sense. all this thinking about money changes how you think about the world and can change your priorities. eventually i could see it evolving to the point where you evaluate the worth of all sorts of things on economic terms. once you do that you're more likely to be republican than democrat. at least that's my theory.
  • so, my goal is to be constantly aware of money and where my next meal will come from because that's a big part of my job now, while also keeping in mind that not everything should be evaluated on economic terms. gotta thread that needle.
  • another needle to thread is to let zoe know that i always love her, but to make sure that she also gets plenty of toughness from me. we're not going to be best friends. i'm her dad.
  • i guess that's life. threading needles.
  • kings going to game seven. i'll have to catch that one.
  • looking like it'll be heat/spurs. blah. i'll root for heat because i don't like the spurs for some reason. on paper maybe i should like the spurs (or at least not hate them). they play good defense. they don't have any bad citizens on the team that i know of. tony parker kind of ruins the whole team for me, though. he's a little bitch in so many ways. duncan is kinda bitchy too. only the fakers are worse in my book.
  • hard to believe that i've been loving the black keys for 11 years. doesn't feel like it's been that long. they've been consistently very good since i discovered thickfreakness and one of the few groups whose albums i still seek out. i basically don't buy music anymore other than a few of my favorites who are still making albums and the black keys are basically at the top of that list right now. i still buy autechre's stuff, but nothing is as good as incunabula.
  • worked in stephen curry's old penthouse condo last week. the new owners moved here from boston and one is a lawyer for kaiser. worked for a couple high level transplants working at kaiser. guess the health care industry is doing very well. no big surprise since the government gave them tens of millions of more guaranteed customers. place had a great view of the bay. $1.5 million for a condo, plus HOA fees. jeesh
  • worked for the inspiration behind this cars 2 character today as well.
  • a couple weeks ago i worked for a guy who had a really nice ferrari. that's the most expensive house i've worked in so far as i know - $2.5 million.
  • these sorts of things are another cool aspect of my job. meeting people from different walks of life, seeing what kinds of people are doing well, etc. for example, i've noticed a couple people in the healthcare industry, but i've also noticed several people moving from SF to the east bay because stuff over there is so costly. it gives me a unique point of view on the economy especially.
  • i was talking to someone at CAA about the boss man and she seemed to think that he was a good guy he was just a bit misguided and being pushed in the wrong direction by his closest advisor. i call b.s. on that, though. in november when they fired 4 people he went in front of us and lied to our faces - saying that everyone was dealt with with professionalism and respect. joe wilson would have gotten up at this point and to yell "you lie," but he wasn't around. he's like a lot of people you'll come across in life. he tells you what you want to hear and then forgets you exist as soon as he turns his head. i told this co-worker of mine that his actions speak so loudly i couldn't hear what he said any more. i wish more people would do this in life. don't listen to a person. talk is just that. look at what a person does because that's all that really matters.
  • there have been two bits of revisionist history i've seen lately. one from timothy geithner and the other from henry paulson. geithner wrote a book about his response to the economic collapse and paulson was in a documentary about his response to the same crisis. i didn't read the book, but i saw the unedited 45 minute discussion he had with jon stewart and i saw the hank paulson documentary. part of me is lulled into believing these guys and that they did all this with the best intentions and for the american people. that they didn't want to help the bankers who were so cavalier with risk and leverage. but if you turn off the volume and you just look at what they actually did, i think i have to call b.s. on them, too. i know it's a difficult situation. i know congress was reticent to do much. i know the crisis could have been worse had they not acted, but there's a little man inside me who is just telling me that something isn't right. they want us to believe that they didn't think about all their buddies on wall street, but i just can't buy it. sorry, guys. i think you're liars, too.
  • not incidently, timothy geithner is one of the brightest guys i've ever seen in action. a lot of times you see so-called geniuses and they don't really come off as all that bright. but in his debate with stewart, geithner came off as a really quick witted and smart guy. perhaps it was the fact that he was pushed to that level by such a great debater and interviewer in stewart. i hope that stewart follows in the footsteps of colbert and has a second life outside of comedy central and i hope that second life is as a serious long-form interviewer ala charlie rose. charlie rose is a dingbat relative to stewart.



    5/22/14 (19:25)

  • one of my usual podcasts on rotation is the philosophize this podcast. the guy who does it seems to really know his stuff and is passionate about all the different philosophers he talks about. recommended. then i read his story and it made me kinda sad. good podcast, good person.



    5/20/14 (21:40)

  • got oaklandhandyman.com today. cost us a little bit, but i think a lot of people get confused about the spelling of meryl and miller so this makes it easier, if nothing else.
  • got a filling today. tooth hurts. my dentist is a fucking sadistic butcher, but he discovered my skin cancer before anyone else so i feel like that counts for something.
  • life is pretty much the same as always.
  • only three more days left at the alumni house. haven't really started to get sad about it yet. i'll definitely miss the two people in my department and maybe a couple others. i'll also miss the food options and being a regular at a couple of those places. i'll miss the routine and simplicity of it all. that's maybe the biggest thing about going out on your own in this business - there's very little routine. jobs come when they come and i have to work. if jobs don't come then i start to worry. along with the contractor forum i frequent, the many magazines and books i read, there's a ny times blog from a furniture builder which has helped me learn about the business side of this stuff. i've read all of the articles he's posted as of a few months ago (i read them in spurts). great content for someone like me who is interested in going into business.
  • building a little fence tomorrow. should be a simple job since it's a replacement and i can use some of the existing posts. in the future i think fencing jobs could be a nice little money maker for me. no permit required under 6', straightforward, very little risk, and i have a good level of experience. decks are similar, but more difficult. sometimes you're attaching to a house, they're required to be permitted, it's a load bearing structure so there's safety to keep in mind, etc.
  • for the most part, though, i think our bread and butter will be the little dinky honey-do list jobs. doors that open on their own or don't close properly, recaulking bathtubs, drywall patches. simple stuff that i can do in my sleep by now.
  • got a lead on doing some work for the oakland ymca. a bit outside of my comfort zone because it involves a fair amount of plumbing, but if i can get a plumber to do that part, then the carpentry and finishing is something i can handle and it could lead to more stuff down the line. it's another lead from a guy who is an appliance repair person and has been kicking a lot of business my way. good guy who sees 5-10 people a day because of his type of work and recommends me a lot. different model from mine which is 1-3 customers with anywhere from 2 hours to 2 days worth of work.
  • zoe is almost one year old. she definitely has strong opinions nowadays. she's also not too pleased with life when she doesn't get what she wants. she's also frustrated that our grunt deciphering abilities are severely lacking.



    5/14/14 (19:27)

  • liked this one. been thinking about this lately because of zoe. here's how my ranking went for the values listed. this wasn't thought out too much and i feel like the middle ones could kinda be a tie, but the top and the bottom are pretty set.

  • i've thought about this list differently before. would i rather zoe be smart or kind, for example. would i rather her be the hardest worker or the smartest kid in the class. as much as i hate stupidity and try to avoid it as much as possible, it's very easy for me to decide between those two examples. i'd much rather zoe be a hard worker or kind than be really smart. of course it's a false choice because i don't think that those things are mutually exclusive, but it's still interesting to think about.
  • the obedience one was kinda tough for me. i feel like i'm pretty obedient and i think it's a good trait to have in a lot of ways, but it has to come with skepticism otherwise it's very dangerous and for that reason i had it pretty low on my list. imagination is one i think most people wouldn't have guessed i'd value that much, but imagination is tied so closely with problem solving and that's what i do for a living so i have a healthy respect for imagination in that regard. a kid who lives with his head in the clouds, though, is a different matter.
  • the first two on the list i think speak for themselves. if you have determination and hard work (john wooden called these industriousness) then i think you're going to be alright in life from an economic standpoint. determination carries over elsewhere as well. sticking through tough times and not giving up builds a lot of character and i think it can benefit you socially and spiritually, as well as economically, so i value it very highly.
  • responsibility is a big one as i get older as well. it's amazing how many excuses people come up with to explain why they didn't do something or why they're not to blame.



    5/10/14 (18:06)

  • michael sam was drafted later than his numbers and accolades would suggest he should have been. he was co-defensive player of the year in the conference with the best defense. in the last several years that has meant a first round draft position. in 2008 it meant a 2nd round draft position. he had a not very good showing at the combine which probably hurt his stock. overall it looks like he should have been drafted in the third round. some guys go higher than they should and others go lower. he's kind of a tricky player in terms of his measurables - he's a tweener with not great athleticism so i can understand a 3rd or 4th round selection. so, it looks like the fact that he came out as gay cost him about 3 rounds in the draft. time will tell if that was an awful example of bigotry or if the people who didn't draft him were right.
  • one thing that's weird about the draft is how you can have second team conference USA guys going in the second round while first team guys from the SEC or PAC-12 go undrafted. strange how that works sometimes. i think a lot of it comes down to people drafting based on athleticism vs. production. college and nfl are very different, though so it makes sense on some level. tebow knows about that pretty well by now.



    5/9/14 (20:27)

  • draft has been pretty average this year. was disappointed the niners didn't get a wr with their first pick. converting the safety to cb make sense according to the analysts. definitely could use help in the secondary. then they picked up stevie johnson so the wr position got better that way. then another rb to add to the stable and a center from usc. another solid year so far.
  • finished out a good job today replacing some dryer ducting and installing a booster fan. pretty long vent run and the owners have always had problems so the booster fan and the smooth ducting should be helpful. been getting a lot of practice with the dryer vents lately because an appliance repair guy has been referring me. has turned out to be quite a good source of business so hopefully he keeps doing that.
  • dryer ducting isn't such a bad thing to work with. i used to hate it, but i've come to know it better. i think i'll move some hvac tools into the truck since the plumbing tools are going out. the space behind the dryer is still ridiculous and unless you build the area with a recessed box to start, it's probably going to be one of those areas of your house that is always cramped and dirty and annoying to work around. i've done two re-ducting jobs (total tear out and replace) this week and one repair. they've taken me to some pretty dirty and cramped areas and my body doesn't love that, but it's good, honest money so i'm happy.
  • most of my life these days is about work and the new job and all that. probably not much fun to ready about, but that's what's been going on.
  • created a spreadsheet to track my bids. i can see what my bid success rate is, what the real cost of the job is relative to the estimated cost. what the real hourly rate is after materials. how much my estimated time of completion differs from reality, etc. after a year of data collection i think it'll be a pretty solid way of analyzing what i've been doing right/wrong.
  • part of the reasoning behind my decision to eliminate plumbing is that it's just not very profitable for me. it constitutes the majority of my callbacks, i'm generally slower than my estimate, and my overall goal is to become more specialized as time goes on. if i'm able to eliminate an unprofitable portion of my business, a portion that i don't really like doing, and still stay busy then it's an all around win.
  • had a doctor's appt. today for a physical. wanted to get it in while i had really good health insurance. doctor said i was in pretty good shape so that's good. definitely feel older than 34 some days.



    5/8/14 (19:54)
    decided yesterday that i'm done with plumbing. soldering i have no problems with and some things go smoothly, but now that i'm looking to make real money i have to eliminate or improve any part of my repertoire that isn't at least average. and, if i'm being honest, i think i'm a below average plumber even for a lowly handyman. so, i'm done with plumbing unless i magically get better or come across an easy job.

    4/28/14 (17:35)

  • zoe is a crawling wrecking ball. i knew this day would come and here it is. she's officially broken or mangled a couple things i actually care about. the concept of "no" is totally foreign to her at this point. she used to get sad when you said "no" or were upset with her, but it doesn't phase her anymore. fun times ahead.
  • haven't watched any of the nhl/nba playoffs. kinda would like to, but other things are more important.



    4/27/14 (16:41)

  • officially married yesterday which coincides with our anniversary and not zoe's birthday so that we won't steal her thunder on an annual basis.



    4/22/14 (19:34)

  • speaking of not complaining about price...we've been looking for a caterer for the birthday/wedding party and found a local bbq place. reasonable prices at the restaurant, meryl emails them, $150/head minimum. jesus christ. our quest continues. seriously, though, $150/person as a minimum for catering bbq? that's just crazy talk.
  • things at work are pretty funny right now. i don't care about anything so i'm just skating by, but all the people i know who work there are complaining about how awful things have gotten. the executive director is an extremely bad boss. bad at being realistic about expectations, bad about using human capital, bad about being honest, bad about prioritization. he's basically just a talking, glad-handing, cheerleading, clueless robot. two years ago i found out about the fact that b of a was going to be ending or curtailing our deal with them. basically we get paid a lot of money from them so that they can use the cal alumni association brand on their credit cards. they probably also get access to some of our member data or something like that. anyway, even i've known for a couple years that that is money is going to drastically dry up. finally, just recently, our wonderful leader has come to the conclusion that our budget isn't going to be balanced (in part) because of the lost revenue from this shift by b of a. it's one of several slow moving train wrecks that he was unable to avoid. this kind of lack of leadership and misprioritization is part of the reason i felt i needed to go out on my own. if we had a kick ass boss and things were more stable and positive and people weren't being laid off, then it would be a harder decision to make. speaking of laying people off...he laid off four people the week of thanksgiving. fast forward to just a week ago and one of these people was at the cal day speech he was giving. towards the end of the speech he turned to her and said "i'll see you monday." not as a joke. he said it because he had clearly forgotten about the fact that he had laid her off four months earlier. if that isn't the pinnacle of douche-baggery then i don't know what is.
  • all of this is mentioned not in the spirit of gossip, but rather to relate the following: 1. working for myself  is going to be a step up and 2. having the ability to sell yourself is (unfortunately) vastly more important that being good at what you do.
  • to that second point, it relates far less to the type of work i do than just about any other profession i can think of. for me, being good at what i do is very important, but more to the point - it's very easy for just about everyone to see. if a client calls because a door is sticking or not locking properly it's easy to see if i fixed it or not. if a client calls because there is no power to a light, it's about as easy as flipping the switch to see if i did a good job. it's slightly more complicated than that because a job may look good or work for now, but it also needs to last. but, overall, the ability to see whether or not i've succeeded at doing my job is fairly obvious and immediate. this is in stark contrast to many other jobs. important and meaningful jobs like being a teacher or doctor and less meaningful jobs like being the executive director of an alumni association. for a job like that it's quite easy to deflect blame - the CFO effed something up, the rim fire affected the bottom line of our lair operations, the shifting banking terrain reduced revenues from a once steady source, etc. i don't like those kinds of jobs anymore. i like to see that i've done something. sometimes i'm fully to blame and sometimes i'm fully to thank. sometimes it's a little more complicated than that, but not usually and not by much.
  • i learned a long time ago that it's almost a rule that if you're counting on someone else then things aren't going to go as well as they otherwise could. people are basically just stupid and ego-centric and ignorant and apathetic. as soon as you rely on someone else for something then the quality decreases, it takes longer, etc. of course relying on others is inevitable in everything we do, but minimizing that is a goal of mine. i rely on the hardware store to carry the things i need and to carry them consistently. neither is true most of the time. just about every other time i go to home depot with a list of things they are out of at least one of them. i went to HD tonight looking for a 3 or 4" tee hinge like the ones that secure just about every crawl space door in the bay area. they had smaller ones. they had bigger ones. they even had one that was the right size, but it wasn't rated for exterior use so it would have started rusting after a couple years. such is life. my standards are too high i guess.



    4/19/14 (9:59)

  • been a while since the last update.
  • the usual stuff happening on the work front. lots of it and not much time for rest. i used to doubt people when they said they were self-employed and working 12 hour days. now i understand better. i bill 7 hours on a good day and then i have customers to meet, proposals to write up, emails to do, bookkeeping to do, supplies to pick or order, etc. it ends up being a pretty long day when you consider all of that. if i charge $50/hr and for 6 hours of paying work and work another 4 hours behind the scenes then my effective pay rate goes down to $30/hr. this is one reason why i'm trying to do more bid work lately. did a job yesterday and hustled the whole time and ended up making more than my hourly rate.
  • as a result of all this education of late with regards to business i'm far less likely to complain about the prices of things when i'm out in the world. now if i find the price of something to be too high i just move on, whereas before i might complain about how ridiculous the cost is. some things are ridiculously overpriced because of brand or because it's a niche product, but even then i pretty much just take the price for what it is. i can buy it or not.
  • the ukrainian issue seems to be escalating again. putin's a piece of shit and we're hamstrung by economic factors, dwindling global power, and the fact that russia is a legitimate player again. i've basically had it with the rest of the world at this point and think we should just let them do whatever they want while we figure out our own problems. it's time for germany to step up and claim their rightful place in the global scene. they are plenty powerful, but tend to sit back and let others do the heavy lifting. they're just smarter and more disciplined than we are.
  • i still pay a lot of attention to politics these days, but i care less. been focusing much more on the family and business.
  • a while back i wrote about how the anxiety epidemic (maybe too strong a word) is largely a first world, modern day problem. i forgot to mention that one researcher found that soldiers who had anxiety problems before going into the military actually found relief in those issues when they were shipped off to iraq, for example. i forget the research exactly, but basically they found that people who had anxiety problems were somewhat relieved to be in a stressful situation which focused the mind and apparently relieved the anxiety they once had.

  • 4/9/14 (17:55)

  • been a little more laid back lately. i set aside some days to work on the bathroom at saul's, but the tile guy is taking a while so i'm taking it easier. one little job today, but mostly hung out with the family and got stuff done around the house.
  • zoe went to the park today. we put her on the swing and slide. it was fun. she likes looking at the other kids and she loved the slide.



    4/5/14 (20:27)

  • been busy lately.
  • this weekend is mostly taking care of zoe since meryl has work at the a's.
  • a recent fix of mine for a customer whose hot water heater stopped working:

  • 4/03/14 (20:18)
  • being a solo handyman is like a roller coaster. a had a job last week working at saul's where he's redoing two bathrooms and having me do a lot of the electrical and carpentry. i forget what i was working on, but i was having a difficult time and felt like tearing my hair out. then, yesterday, i had a job repainting a bathroom ceiling and installing a new fan where there used to be a light. it went exactly as planned and i made a good wage and tidy profit.
  • there was one part of that job, though, that was kinda hairy. since the building is a two story duplex with a hip roof, i had to vent the fan through the roof. i've done it before, but in this case it meant going on the roof of a fairly tall building (for me). i have a 24' extension ladder which has always been good enough, but this time it just barely reached the roof line and i was only able to get it to rest on the gutter and didn't get anywhere near the OSHA required 3' of extension beyond the roof line. but it was a situation i couldn't really do anything about. i couldn't turn to my boss and say i didn't feel comfortable. i couldn't make a lackey do the job for me. i had to do the job and there was only one way it was going to get done. i knew that it was safe enough. the ladder wasn't extended beyond manufacturer recommendations, it was on solid footing, it just didn't extend beyond the roof line enough and (because it was fully extended) it felt wobbly as fuck. so, i went up slowly and came down slowly and got the job done.
  • there will be many more of these situations in the future - i'm not fully comfortable or confident in something, but i'll have to go forward anyway. i won't do jobs that will get me in trouble or are really out of my depth because no one really benefits from that, but taking on difficult tasks can only make me stronger in the long run. to date i've always found a suitable solution so i'll just have to continue doing so.
  • this reminds me of another job i had at saul's where we were putting in a new prep sink. i was to demo the wall covering in preparation for the sink installation (to be done by the plumber) and then redo the wall covering after the plumber did the rough-in. when the plumber got there he didn't really understand how the sink was supposed to be installed. i told him, i showed him, i gave him the spec sheet, but it still took him a while. then he was having trouble figuring out what to do with the drain/vent line which needed to be moved a bit because the prep sink was going to be relocated about 6". he called his boss. his boss came down and confirmed that he should do what he and i thought was best. he tried to tell his boss that maybe he should get someone else to do the job. his boss said to just do it the way he said and it would be fine. in the end, it was all fine and the plumber did a fine job. what he lacked was confidence and problem solving more than skills, tools or ability. sometimes when there's someone else higher on the food chain that you can punt to, you take that out earlier than you probably should.
  • it could very well be an all SEC ncaa championship game. i have no one left to root for at this point. i'm only rooting against KY and FL. if they both win (my guess) then i have no reason to watch the final.

  • zoe's first baseball game was an a's loss after a long rain. she was a champ all the way through. getting rained on while waiting in line to get into the stadium, being around so many people, the loud noises, etc. - nothing really bothered her.

    3/29/14 (07:42)

  • meryl works for the a's today which means i get a day off. nice to have a saturday without work. my mom will take zoe for a few hours as well so i get a little alone time. thought about using it to go finish painting a shingle siding patch i did earlier in the week, but it's going to be raining so i can't get that done. i guess a forced day off is a good thing.
  • need to review some movies.



    3/20/14 (18:20)

  • need to work on getting stronger. i think i've always been of below average strength and that definitely can be a hindrance when working solo in my field.



    3/19/14 (18:28)

  • zoe's very mobile these days. gotta make sure we keep screws and all that stuff off the floor. she's also getting into toilets and cabinets and the usual. pretty much life as usual for a 9 month old.
  • the russia/ukraine issue is interesting. it's no surprise that putin would want to extend his reach and reclaim some territory. "ukraine is weak" and a lot of that seems to be attrituable to the faily economy and high debt. similarly, we aren't able to do much to stop it because our economy and debt problems are a bigger issue than russia and ukraine. if we were only 6 trillion in debt and hadn't just fought two wars, then maybe we'd be able to have more power in this situation.
  • tourney starts tomorrow. yay.



    3/16/14 (14:59)

  • got some housework done today. don't generally get to do that lately. no construction stuff, mostly just maintenance. spent a lot of time outside working on weeding and planting.
  • the backyard still has some work to be done, but it's quite close to being complete at this point. we've been making a list of backyard stuff to do before the wedding/zoe's first birthday party and so far it's only two items long, so that's doable.
  • i guess the wedding thing is kind of a big deal. it is and it isn't, really. finally doing it is the big deal because i had formerly been pretty much against it. like all changes, it was a gradual one. here's to hoping that we can stop the streak of divorces from our parents. between our six parents/step parents there are six divorces.
  • having it the same day as zoe's birthday seemed a good idea. it makes it less about us and also kills two birds with one stone. i only thought about it later, but i guess it also means that people will feel like they need to get two presents. at this point in my life i think i have most of the stuff i want so meryl and i don't really want much and the 9 item registry reflects this fact. and, zoe is going to be 1 year old so she doesn't really want much either. plastic cups, rocks and strawberries make her as happy as anything else in the world and none of that stuff costs much.
  • cool to see that ucla won the pac-12 tournament. haven't followed college basketball at all this year as has been the norm lately. will watch the madness, though, as always.
  • zoe had her first real tumble yesterday. well, she fell out of the bed twice, but that didn't draw any blood. this time she was climbing up on a backpack which houses her diapers and stuff and she fell down the stairs leading into the big room. it's only two steps, but she busted her upper lip open and bled a bit. i held her for a couple minutes and then we played with her and she was happy again. took about 3 minutes to get her back up and running. she's a pretty tough kid.
  • i have to do something about my lack of plumbing skills. i know how things are supposed to go together, but when i go to do them there's always some problem. i just hate plumbing and should probably quit doing it.
  • chrome has been kinda sucking lately. lags on all my computers. why can't browsers ever be good for longer than a year or two?
  • fucking technology just pisses me off sometimes.



    3/15/14 (10:36)

  • just have two little jobs today so that's nice. i don't even know what the weekend is anymore. last night i was working on a woman's toilet at 6p and it didn't even occur to me that it was friday night and i should be psyched for the weekend.
  • got our taxes done the other day. we paid to get them done from a recommended cpa. it'll be a chunk of change, but with two individual taxes and the LLC it made sense to bring in an expert. having a business has made me more aware of a lot of things. in this case it's made me aware of the tax advantages of a company. my understanding is that we can write off 50% of business related meals/entertainment. so, if we go to lunch with a customer or need to buy lunch that is directly related to a business endeavor then you can write off half of the cost. so, i make $100 and i buy a $20 meal then my taxable income becomes $90. it's even better for tools and other business expenses (from what i understand). so, let's say i make $40,000 in a year and i buy a truck for $36,000. i am then taxed on $4,000. my tax rate is about 10% so i take home $3,600 and the business (me) gets a truck. in another scenario, i work for an employer. i earn $40,000 a year am taxed at 15% and have $34,000 left over to buy a truck. i buy a $36,000 truck. i am in debt $2,000 and i have a truck. that's a $5,600 difference just because it's my company earning the money vs. me. that's my understanding of it all and it doesn't seem very fair in some ways. in other ways it makes sense. overall, i wish it wasn't like this. i wish it was simpler and more equitable.
  • the tool expenses definitely helped us this year. we poured a good deal of income into tool and material expenses so it was as if we didn't earn that money at all so we got the stuff without having been taxed on it. essentially you get more purchasing power this way. the other thing that saved us a ton of money was tracking our mileage. we drive around a lot and that saved us quite a bit.
  • speaking of which...gotta get to another job.



    3/9/14 (14:18)

  • the plan to work two days a week at the alumni house has been a bad one so far. it wasn't really my plan and i was never thrilled about it, but went along to be a nice guy or whatever. the result, though, is that i'm working 6-7 days a week and still delaying some projects by weeks. if i were a big time contractor or something then waiting a month to get something done wouldn't be unreasonable, but i'm a little handyman so it seems a bit ridiculous.
  • academy awards weren't that great this year. ellen was so-so overall. the movies that i saw (just a couple) were not noteworthy.
  • zoe sleeps through the night most of the time now which is nice.
  • this year is going to be about finding out what direction the business should go. i'm basically going to accept all kinds of jobs all over the place and then in 2015 (or maybe a little sooner) start figuring out where my interests lie and what kinds of jobs/customers i want or don't want. it may be that commercial work is more profitable and fun. it may be that working in the oakland hills yields the best customers so i'll try to just work there. no idea.

  • don't think that the contracting license is going to work out. i knew this from the beginning but went for it anyway. they want a lot of framing experience and i was hoping that my classroom experience would help me there, but it's looking like it won't be enough. there are other designations i can apply for so i may yet be considered a contractor, but right now it's not looking great. the biggest problem is that the state really doesn't have a designation for the kind of thing i want to do. handymen charging under $500 can do basically whatever they want. i want to be able to do that, but charge more. a general contractor is closest to that, but even then you technically need to have another trade involved in the contract in order to do it. so, if i wanted to bid to install some recessed lighting for $1000 i'd need to be doing another trade besides electrical in order for everything to be legal. basically i think it's a way of protecting the other trades from the general contractor taking all their work.

    2/26/14 (17:12)

  • turns out that MA has a law that says you have to give a customer a health care quote within 2 days. this is pretty close to the idea i proposed nationally and felt would go a long way toward lowering costs. of course they find ways to complicate it, but it generally seems like a step in the right direction. MA is the tip of the spear towards single payer. should be interesting to follow costs there relative to the rest of the country over time.
  • it never ceases to amaze me the gap between what people think they should get paid and what they think they should pay others. often i feel like i charge a lot for what i do, but i also don't mind paying good money for a wide variety of things. i've also become hypercognizant of the cost of things and the realities of running a business so i complain much less about price than i might have in the past. the price is the price and i'm free to take it or leave it. this isn't to say i'm okay with absurd profits or arbitrage or bilking the ignorant. to me that's a different issue.



    2/24/14 (16:50)

  • last week was my last full week at the alumni house. 3 days this week. 2 days a week most of the rest of the way out.
  • zoe is sleeping in her own room now and doing very well with it. we've also been more strict about giving her nap/alone time and those have been going pretty well. we've had a couple nights now where she hasn't woken up at all in the middle of the night.



    2/21/14 (17:18)

  • been getting more business than i know what to do with lately. still working at alumni house 4 days a week. goes down to 2 days a week in march. will be doing 2 days a week through the end of may now. was supposed to be through the end of the semester but my boss convinced me that i said through the end of the month and then begged me to stay. nice to be wanted, but a little annoying since i wanted to be completely out in a week.
  • got a call from an appliance installer who wants to be able to refer me to customers who have problems he doesn't cover. another person referring me means more opportunity. eventually i'd like to get someone working for me to fill in on these jobs that i don't have time for. that's like the 5 year plan though.



    2/16/14 (19:01)

  • had a valentine's outing with meryl tonight. quick dinner and about 40 minutes at a retro arcade.
  • zoe has been having lots of trouble at night lately. we're going to kick her out of our bed and she's going to have to figure it out in her own space now. in the long run i think this will be good timing and a good choice. in the short run i think it'll suck.
  • been watching the olympics non stop. everything else goes on hold every couple years. so far there have been a few good moments, but nothing spectacular. i always like short track and the downhill/super g skiing type stuff. the hockey shootout with russia/usa was pretty great for a game that didn't matter all that much.
  • two more weeks and i'll have a couple extra days a week to get handyman stuff done. this will be very helpful because i'm really backed up. i've been trying to not work on sundays, but that usually means i only do stuff around the house and catch up with organizing and invoicing, etc.

  • 2/8/14 (09:31)
  • two estimates and one job to do today.
  • the lawn is in and it looks nice. had to give away a decent amount of sod, but better to have too much than not enough. sprinklers work, but it's been raining so they haven't been needed so far.

  • 2/2/14 (10:47)
  • rained this morning so getting work done on the lawn would be messy to say the least. doesn't rain all season and it picks one of two days that we decide to do work outside. bummer.
  • the day i quit my job i definitely had a sense of dread and worry. it's kind of a big gamble, but i think i've done as much as possible to ensure that it goes fairly smoothly. i have one solid client (saul's deli) who has work for me on a weekly basis and one lead company (club local) that has brought me some work and should bring me more once my availability opens up more. in the shorter term we also have another client who wants a bunch of work done and we'll oversee some and do some. we're also now doing order fulfillment for meryl's mom's business and that is work that can be done whenever we want and brings in some extra money.
  • i have a good savings at this point and meryl has some as well so we're not going to starve, but that is supposed to be our retirement so of course we'd rather not dip into it. i think this decision will keep me sharp. i might have to hustle up more work from time to time and i don't think i'll be complacent which can tend to happen when you have the comfort and ease of a steady job. it will also hopefully allow me to relax more than i've been used to lately. the last 9 months i've been working for the alumni house and meryl & miller. working for just meryl & miller theoretically means i'll have less overall work. if i ever get too busy again i can just raise my rates. i don't have to ask the boss or wait for someone else to make the decision. i just do it. this is where marketing is key. if i get enough customers (especially the right kind) coming in then i can experiment with pricing strategies and rates until i find something that works well for me.
  • worst case scenario is that the jobs dry up and i'm forced to lower my rates and can't make nearly the same money that i was at the alumni house (not to mention the benefits).
  • i'll be rooting for seattle today. if they win then sf will have lost their final game to the eventual sb champs in the last three years.
  • philip seymore hoffman is dead. when meryl told me this i assumed it was a drug overdose and that's what it appears to have been. pretty typical b.s.. smart, gifted people doing dumb things. it's a disease and all, i get that as well as the next guy since i saw my parents go through it. i just don't get how someone with that much money, intellect and connections couldn't just pay someone to babysit him for a year or something. if you're serious about getting off it and you have resources like he had then it seems like you could figure it out. ultimately you can only help those who want to be helped.
  • maybe my favorite picture of zoe so far:

  • 2/1/14 (17:25)
  • with some family help we tore up the back lawn today. trenched for sprinklers, but i think we need to go deeper. oh well. should be another hour of work tomorrow. sod comes on wednesday.
  • last tuesday i told my boss i wouldn't be working at the alumni house much longer. i told her i'd quit before march. she didn't take it too well and seemed a little panicked. long story short i'm going to be going down to two days a week in march and will work like that until may which is when the semester is over and the busy time is done. it actually works out kinda well. i owe her a lot and like her so i'm helping her, but i also get to keep my insurance (i'll be using vacation time to stay full time) and it'll mean some guaranteed money while i start to work more for myself.

  • so, the adventure of working for myself is officially underway. i have to maximize the next 10 years of relatively good health and a strong body. hopefully i get busy enough that i can hire someone and earn money and do less strenuous work. should be interesting.

    1/26/14 (15:43)

  • don't think it's allergies, but my cold is sticking around longer than i'd like. i probably should eat better and stress less.
  • is a given item going to be more or less expensive when you have 3 people paying for it versus 1? is the price of that product going to go up or down if no one really knows the price of it? is the price of that product going to go up or down if no one really asks how much it costs? is the price of the product going to go up or down if you have very little choice over whether or not you buy it? with regards to healthcare, in every instance the answer is bad news for us. i get a service and 1) i pay for it, my employer pays for it and my insurance company pays for it 2) i have no idea what the price is going to be before i get the procedure 3) i don't generally ask the price before i get the procedure and when i do, they can't/won't give me a straight answer 4) when it comes to emergency or urgent care we basically have no choice over whether or not we buy it or not.
  • i feel like society remembers success more than failure. evolutionarily this probably makes some sense.
  • i've been thinking a lot lately about anxiety. i think it's basically a first world problem. there's an atlantic editor who has a new book detailing all his different phobias and anxieties. he writes about his various attempts at dealing with them through drugs and meditation and diet and nothing really works. for a guy like this there's probably a chemical imbalance coupled with possible childhood trauma or something that leads to being overwhelmed with fears and anxiety. however, i can't help but think that in most cases this is the result of too much success in life. my half-witted theory is that the body and mind have evolved to fight and work hard. when calories are free and easy, when shelter is ample and climate is perfect, when life is basically very easy then our mind works on solving other issues. sometimes that means nitpicking things about our surroundings. i've heard many anecdotes about uber-rich people making unusual demands on their staff, for example. life is so easy for them that their mind creates problems where there are none - the door man must open the door just right for me or the rivets on this plane i'm building all need to be countersunk at a perfect depth (howard hawks type stuff). sometimes it manifests itself in people creating drama for themselves. whether they take up addictions or sabotage relationships. and sometimes the bored mind just creates anxieties and fears that are irrational.
  • so, what's the cure? well, if the ailment is modernity, excess, and life being too easy then the cure is the opposite. scarcity and difficulty. i guess i just find it hard to believe that cavewoman jane and cavewoman mary would have had a year's long cat fight about who throws better parties or who has a nicer cave. i doubt very much that these insecurities would occupy their minds in the way that these sorts of things do today. i think there would be very little room for the caveman to be horribly afraid of looking up (anablephobia) or of daylight (phengophobia).
  • i guess it would be easy enough to find out if i'm on to something. just look at the rate of anxiety in people by wealth. i suspect it would be high at the extreme ends - the wealthy have anxiety because life is too easy for them and the homeless have anxiety because they have too much spare time and a higher rate of mental illness.



    1/21/14 (17:54)

  • jimmy johnson and barry switzer are the answers to my previous question.
  • i'll be rooting for seattle.
  • watched a couple oscar nominated movies. american hustle and gravity. neither were very good.
  • old phone screen cracked while i had it in my pocket and was working (there was a pencil in my pocket that broke it). pretty pathetic. then it stopped charging unless i was holding the cord in at a certain angle. long story short, i got a new phone. hopefully will be with this one for a while. samsung galaxy s2. so far it's pretty good.
  • zoe has been sleeping like shit lately. waking up at midnight or 1a and having trouble most of the rest of the night. screaming and trying to crawl around. i don't think it's the sickness. more likely that it's because she's learning to crawl (she's getting pretty close). apparently learning new things makes them restless.
  • my sickness may be allergies. more sneezing and runny nose than usual. then again my lungs have never felt like this as a result of allergies. this is lame. i need to get well so i can get some shit done. taken the last three days off thinking that would be good, but it hasn't helped as much as i'd like.



    1/19/14 (19:29)

  • got sick again at the beginning of the year and was just getting over it and now i'm sick again. this time it's in my chest. zoe has pneumonia so maybe it's related. man this sucks.
  • niners/seahawks game was good. people seem upset about the playcalling. there were a couple bad calls, but i don't recall them making much of a difference overall. certainly not the reason for the loss. as kaepernick said, he was the reason they lost. the last three sf possessions ended in kaepernick turnovers - fumble, int, int. possibly the biggest individual choke i've ever seen. pretty bad game from him overall.
  • sherman's talk after the game was classless.
  • you get what you ask for with kaepernick. i think hasselbeck put it best when talking about the niner offense overall. he said that the best plays come after plays break down, but that no one ever talks about the downside of that (i guess he hasn't been in my living room lately). kaepernick can run for 50 yards at a time, but he also runs out of the pocket too quickly and makes bad throws. he runs too quickly and misses secondary receivers (something that doesn't show up on any stat sheet i know of). he runs around holding the ball with one hand and fumbles it. turnovers are the second most important stat outside of the score.
  • the only reason sf was in the game was their red zone defense. if not for that they would have lost by 20+ points.
  • has a coach ever won a superbowl and a national championship in college?



    1/2/14 (17:19)

  • got a job doing a bunch of project management for a woman. may have mentioned it already.
  • quitting my job is inevitable at this point. it just makes too much sense, and while it is risky, the upside (potential and real) is too high. the fact that jobs continue to roll in without any effort (other than doing generally good work and accepting what comes) is a good sign.
  • in a perfect world it would mean more time with zoe and meryl, more money, more freedom, more time to hone my craft. the downsides being more stress, more responsibility. that said, it would be less stress than i have right now because i'm trying to do both things at the same time. juggle a full-time job while also working as a handyman all around the greater east bay.

  • i'm such a conventional guy these days. i want the government out of my business, i have a family, the best thing in life is seeing zoe smile. pretty hilarious.