Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Why No Pictures Recently?

Three reasons:

  • I keep forgetting the camera

  • I keep forgetting to use the cell phone.

  • I had problems downloading the pictures from the camera last time. Still haven't taken the time to resolve it.

I'll try to get some and get them posted soon.

Poor Thing

Monday, we returned to San Jose. Dawn had a meeting at San Jose State University, Lou came down to go thrifting with Dawn after her meeting and I came down to finish off the fence.

I moved all my remaining materials from behind the fence. I then installed brick plugs in the planter cutouts in the new sidewalk. No current plans to grow anything, they are just for possible future use. I installed the last section of fencing, reinstalled some siding to the bottom edge of the bedroom bay window overhang, installed a short fence section to close off the rear yard at the 6 foot fence height. The fence continues to the front of the house at three foot height. I then replaced some screws on the rail brackets with the proper length screws. I trimmed the fence boards that are at the posts so the anchor bracket bolts don't cause a bulge. The final item was to install the remaining four screws per fence board. I only tacked it up with two before. Done, finally.

I then loaded the car with all the tools and stuff used to do the project. A job box, a mixer, wheelbarrow, shovels, crowbars, saws, drills and extra materials. A full load for a little Volvo station wagon. I was all ready to take off about 4pm to meet Lou and Dawn for dinner but then the car wouldn't run. I stayed the night.

The poor thing hasn't been well recently. On a trip to the dump last week, it wouldn't start until some wires were wiggled under the hood. That may or may not have been the cause. In the past, it very rarely has done it before. The mechanic hasn't found the problem and said just to wiggle the wires as he did to get it to work. That response has been adequate till now.

On Saturday, I wanted to go on an errand with it and it wouldn't start. But it seemed different. It seemed more like it started but died immediately after the key was released. It seemed to have fire. I wiggled the wires and it started up and ran. I shut it off and looked further. I found two bare wires under the ignition coil. They didn't seem to go to the ignition coil but? I taped them up but the car was back in the wont start mode. Darn I thought I had it. I just ignored it over the rest of the weekend. On Monday, it started nicely when I went down to San Jose. The car sat there all day as I worked and then would not run when I needed to go. Note, I could now start it, but as soon as I put it in gear , it died. I tried to warm it up, run it, wiggle wires etc to no avail and just spent the night at Dawn's apartment.

In the morning it started and ran perfectly. I got on the freeway and traffic immediately came to a rolling stop. A fuel spill 10miles ahead in Cupertino closed the highway earlier. It was supposedly cleared now but traffic never learned of it and moved along at 0-5 mph. When I finally was able to exit about 30 minutes later, I took surface roads the rest of the way home. All the while on the freeway I was a bit concerned the poor thing would die and decide not to run, something it has not done previously but who wants to do that in the middle of 5 lanes of freeway? I was all the way to the final stretch. I stopped for a red light at the signal at San Antonio Road at El Camino Real in Los Altos, literally the next to the last turn and only a couple of miles from home. The car died and wouldn't run, again. I could start it but it died when placed in gear. I was at the stoppbar, the first car in the only left turn lane at a very busy intersection. It's kind of odd having a car that can be started but can't move. After several cycles of honking cars and other disruption, I tried to look invisible while I waited for a tow, and the police to direct traffic. Eventually, a nice person offered to help push it out of the way. Unfortunately, there was no easy close place to push it. It was about a block to get it out of the traffic lanes. Fortunately, after about halfway through the intersection, it was actually somewhat downhill into a shopping center parking lot. I called to cancel the tow. I really want to get this thing home rather than a garage to unload it. Our mechanic is only a few blocks away from the house. If the car continues as it has, it should run in the morning.

Lou came and picked me up. The car has an appointment to be looked at in a few weeks when we return from our travels. We don't want another departure delay right now.

This car is normally very reliable and doesn't strand you. Now it has at two inopportune locations, the dump and the busy intersection. I hope it feels better soon!

The Loaded Car At End Of Project
The Car started normally later that evening. Above is a picture of the poor thing with its load after getting the rest of the way home.

Note: We've had comments about why I use the Volvo station wagon to carry these kinds of loads. It's because I can, and because we lost our Toyota pickup when a drunk driver drove through the front three feet of the engine compartment a few years ago. Not much resistance to the impact. I survived the accident with a few bruises after bending the drivers door in half when the truck suddenly moved to the right at about 50 mph due to the impact. The fact that the truck offered so little resistance to the impact meant we were not interested in replacing it.
Lou bought me a Volvo station wagon like hers. To our knowledge, no one has died due to a collision in a 240 Volvo station wagon. That Volvo, a 92, is now our toad and it's her Volvo, an 87, that is having the problems now. It does have over 300,000 miles on it now though but can still carry about a half ton of stuff.

While the pickup is possibly more convenient, cars and station wagons can do a lot too. I used to have a VW beetle and it was once used to move. It carried an eight foot long sofa, two swivel chairs, two end tables and a coffee table, oh, and also two people. We also had an old VW bus. It was used to carry 2800 pounds of bricks once, and on a canoe trip was used to carry 15 people and their gear to the launch location. i guess I've always had a problem with load limits though. I once carried five people on a mountain trail on my 305 Honda motorcycle. It was a bit hard to keep the front wheel on the ground though.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

More Fun At Adobe

Yesterday was an adventure day, mostly. It started out much like the past week. When I left San Jose yesterday evening, I loaded up the car before returning to Palo Alto. Most of that was headed to the dump. After morning tea time I was off to the dump. I purged the car of the scrape dirt, concrete debris, junk lumber and the multitude of used concrete bags. Unfortunately, that car, Lou's older '87 Volvo, I wouldn't want to use the toad for this, decided it wanted to stay. It wouldn't start when it was time to go. After several attempts, including looking under the hood and a little wiggling of wires, it still didn't start so I called for a tow. Since the car is elderly, it has a few quirks. Occasionally, it wont start and you need to wiggle the wires under the hood. It doesn't happen to me often since it's Lou's car but I did remember it and made a feeble attempt at wiggling. After talking to Lou and confirming the wiggle feature, I tried again and was successful, much to the pleasure of myself and the bull dozer operator that had been rolling all around the car working on the pile. I was glad to be able to cancel the tow because I wasn't very confident the tow truck would find me there.

I returned home and cleaned up a bit and then Lou took me down to the train station. I was headed to San Francisco for another event at the Adobe offices there. They were holding a Flex Camp, an event about one of their programs. It was a meet the developers, see it work , and see what others have done with it type of event. I like attending these because you get to see some neat stuff and I hope sometime, I'll get inspired to do something myself. If not, it's fun anyway. And of course the pizza and beer were good a well.

I got there a little early. I don't trust the train to get there on time. I figure the same problem I have with other queue lines and with picking the right lane on the freeway might occur and I'd end up with a couple of hour delay for an accident or the like so I gave myself some fudge time. Everything went smoothly, as usual when it doesn't matter so I had a couple of hours to spare. Since I hadn't had breakfast and it was lunch time, 1 pm, I stopped by Chevy's fresh Mexican restaurant for a bite. I then took a stroll through China town and then it was time for the event which started at 3:30. It lasted until 11:15 pm and allowed enough time to walk the two blocks to the train station for the last train home. I prefer the train or BART when going into San Francisco because you eliminate all the hassle of finding a parking spot and hazards of driving on unfamiliar streets.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Sad News

A coyote salute to Emery

We received news that Don's Uncle Emery had passed away. He had a stroke a short while back and was in a rest home in Palm Springs when he had another stroke. He was 84. He worked for years as a printer in the LA area. He retired many years ago to Landers. He was always busy doing all sorts of crafts and tinkering. Emery painted the coyotes above. A couple of years ago he learned how to paint flowers and everything that would accept paint was in trouble. He even painted his LPG tank at his house. He could tell a good story and had a great sense of humor.
We were fortunate to have enjoyed a visit with Emery and Mary in April. Here are a few previous blog entries about visits with Emery.

Our last visit In April 2007

March 2006 at Uncle Dougs

December 2004

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Rain In July?

A little of the old floor showing thew old patern First half of the new floor partially laid.
You can see some of the old flooring showing Lou's pattern. On the right above, part of the new flooring is down.
Dawn's new floor
Dawn apartment with the new floor.

Tuesday: I finished the last of the baseboard molding installation in the tennants place and re-installed the baseboard molding in Dawn's apartment. The place looks very nice when complete! I also had another appointment with Sears to repair the dishwasher. They needed to install the new door switch. The appointment was for 8-12. The tech arrived about 4 pm, installed the switch and it , of course, didn't correct the problem so now he ordered the control board (the most likely cause) and a new switch membrane (possible cause). They'll be out again next week. Aren't service contracts nice? As it happens, the tenant had another tech, also from Sears, arrive at the correct time for her appointment about an hour earlier than mine. Her result was no better, noisy drier, 2 years old. The motor was replaced on this second visit and it's still as noisy. So they'll be back for her's next week, as well. Maybe I should rent them an office here?

When I finally got away, I returned the excess stuff to the hardware stores and had dinner at a Chinese restaurant on the way home. I had loaded the car with much of the tools and such used on the floor project and returned them to their rightful places at home.

Lou and Dawn returned about 8pm. Dawn has an appointment with one of her professors at the university Wednesday morning

Wednesday: It's been many years since there was last rain on this day, or anywhere near, it in July. While headed down to San Jose, there was almost a deluge in Los Altos, but only an annoying mist in San Jose, still possibly enough of it to be called rain, taken in total. Supposedly has to be at or above 1/100 of an inch. It's also a bit humid, again unusual.

I had plans of pouring some concrete but chickened out due to the threat of even more "rain." Instead, Lou and I move all the furniture back in place in Dawn's apartment. The paint on the baseboards hopefully dried enough.

After Dawn returned from her appointment, she and Lou headed back to Fresno for a few more days. Gee, no work to do, no wife, no worries. It's party time?

Thursday: Up at the usual time. Stopped at Whole Foods for breakfast of a nice burrito and some bacon.

When I got to San Jose I started preparing to pour some concrete. The weather was excellent all day, clear and mild. I finished pouring about 2pm. Actually it was more like pour, move , pour move finish, pour, move, pour, move finish, ....finish cleanup, finish, about 3:30 lunch, finish, shower, finish, wait, guard, guard etc. I'm guarding because I hate the little critters that like to mark their territory by ruining fresh concrete. The long drawn out finishing is due to the difference in when the various sections were poured. I had to stop a little short of where I thought I'd get to because I ran out of concrete. must be a little thicker than I thought. Tomorrow I'll remove the forms, prepare the final section by removing a little more dirt and start getting concrete 10-12 bags at a time, for the next section. I probably won't pour it until Monday. I also have to start out Monday by replacing the water main valve to the house or at least re-seal the stem for the valve. It's leaking profusely since I turned off the water Saturday to replace the washer valves.

I think I'll just stay here tonight and avoid a commute and get a real early start tomorrow so I can quit early.

Friday: The morning was spent going to OSH, letting them load concrete bags, returning to the house unloading them and repeating. The poor car can only carry 12 bags at a time so I made four trips. I also stripped the forms and dug out the remaining area to be poured, I also dug a couple of more post holes. I should be ready for the next pour. I still need to remove some of the old front fence because of a realignment need but that can be part of a third pour.

Now to take a little time off, like the whole weekend.

Saturday: Well, forget the time off. I started the day with a run to the dump. The I tried to relax in the backyard doing a little pruning and puttering in the shop putting things away. Enough relaxing, I went down to San Jose and started digging the trench for the drain pipe that will be under the sidewalk. I got it about half done. I spent the night in San Jose. Dawn's apartment is not much bigger than the RV, just a little more than a small studio. A living room/bedroom, an eat in kitchen, and a bathroom. I really rather like small living spaces. One great benefit is the house cleaning doesn't take long at all.

Sunday: I broke out the old fence post bases for where the front fence meets the new side fence. Many years ago, I pulled the front fence in about 6 inches because the neighbor were always hitting the fence when they entered their driveway. That seemed to eliminate the pronlem. I installed a mow strip base with metal post anchors in it. I didn't remember it, but I evidently built it quite well. I sawed the base where I intended to end the sidewalk. I then found out that I had included rebar in the base and post anchor foot. This made the removal about twice as hard. After it was out, i completed the trench and installed the drain pipe and a water line that goes to each planer cut-out in the new sidewalk.

Dinner was a wonderful super burrito from Super Taqueria.

Monday: I walked around downtown looking for a good place for breakfast. I wanted something different so I didn't intend to return to Don Pedro's. I didn't find anything interesting untill almost back home. I stopped a a taqueria on San Carlos St that i didn't get the name of. i got a couple of breakfast burritos. I ate one and kept the other for tomorrow.

I started by digging the last two post holes where I removed the existing fence. I then built the forms for the remaining planter cut outs and where the sidewalk will extend into the front yard. i then got out the mixer and tools and was ready to start, after lunch. i got a brautworst hot dog at Top Dog about a block away. i then started mixing and pouring and finishing etc etc. I cleaned up the mess while I waited for the stuff to dry to complete the final finishing. Rather than just wait around and twiddle my thumbs, I took a shower and cleaned myself up a bit. I then went over to San Carlos Pizza and got an excellent pizza for $7. What a bargain and very good. I could only eat half, so lunch is in the fridge. The last of the concrete wasn't ready for the final troweling and broom finish until after dinner and after 8pm.

Later, about 9pm, the tenant came to the door and had a piece of homemade pizza. I tried to decline mentioning that I just had some. She was insistent and was right. There is always room for another slice of pizza. It was excellent as well. She is from Turkey and I'm sure it included some goat cheese but it was more like a combination pizza with a very good sauce.

Lou called about 6 pm and had some bad news. She was returning from Fresno heading up the hill on Highway 156 by San Luis Lake. All the warning lights came on. and the engine started heating up. She waited a while then continued on to Casa De Fruita. It appears to her that the fan fell off and the belt came off with it. there's no mechanic there and anywhere it was taken would be a gamble so i told here I'd come down in the morning with the RV and tow her home to our own mechanic. I could help her otherwise in that the car here is more than full of debris and dirt so it's only going to the dump from here. of course the house is on the way to the dump which makes it easy to drop off the loaded car and get the RV out and get the car. Fortunately it was the toad so towing is easy. Lou and Dawn got a room at the motel there and settle in for the night. They enjoyed seeing the rain deer and other animals roaming around there.


Tuesday: I left San Jose early and returned home to Palo Alto. I worked on getting the RV ready to roll. About 9 am I was on the road to meet Lou and Dawn at Casa De Fruita East of Gilroy. We hooked up the toad. We then enjoyed a couple of pastries at the Casa de Sweets compliments of the motel stay. Casa de Fruita is a nice place to visit. Some day we'll probably come down to a little stay at the RV park. They have all sorts of old farm implements. We took a look around and then headed for home. Lou cleaned out the car. She collect a few things at her thrift shop visits in Fresno.

I took a trip to the dump to get ride of the debris I had loaded from San Jose. It was then time to relax a bit.

Wednesday: I returned to San Jose this morning. I started with a couple of visits to OSH to collect concrete for the final pour. I dug out the front flower bed for the continuation of the walk all the way around the house to the front porch. I painted myself into a corner, so to speak. There is a bit of a slope from the porch to the side yard. In order to complete this pour I need to pour the lower portion first and let it set up enough to hold the upper portion when it's poured. Even though today wasn't a big pour it took some time. About 3 pm I finished pouring the last and was just fiddling with the final finishing.

The Sears service technician arrived to repair the tenants dryer. This is the third visit. Fortunately, it was working when he left. That should make the tenant and the neighbor much happier. the tenant has two toddlers and the dryer is in constant use and sounded like an air compressor running. The neighbor's deck is right next to it. Quite unpleasant.

Thursday: First thing today, I called Sears service to find out the route position for the dishwasher repair. i was the first stop. How nice. If I had had to hang around waiting for them to arrive, the day would have been wasted otherwise since I needed to get materials to proceed. It was a different technician for this third visit. He seemed to actually know what he was doing, installed the replacement control board and the thing worked, at last.

Time to strip the last of the forms and start on building the fence. Of course, I needed to get the lumber. I'm also rather q cheapskate so I wanted both a good price and and good lumber, two things that are usually not found together. I checked Orchard Supply Hardware (OSH), Their price seemed high, at least more than for last years project so I moved on. I then tried Home Depot. Their price was nearly double that of OSH. They did have a nice supply of good lumber though. On to Lowe's. The didn't have anything except synthetic fence boards. Quite odd. Looks like it will be OSH. The OSH store I started at had a meager supple of lumber. Since I was pretty far from the project site now, I decided to check the other OSH stores on the way there. The first two didn't have anything useful but the thired at Westgate shopping area in San Jose had a good supply so I went through their piles selecting the best. The poor cart was straining to carry the load of 63 fence boards and 20 pressure treated fence rails. The poor car was going to get a workout. All this stuff went on the racks on top. This wasn't a light load in itself but then the car had to carry me as well. And, then there were the five bags of concrete I had left over and some other debris already in the car. No problems getting it there.

I returned to the project site about 3 pm. I then started fence building. I had already brought the fence posts there so I started by installing them in the fence anchors previously installed in the concrete. I then moved all the fence boards off the car to get to the fence rails. I installed all the rails. Then the fence boards. Nice order to this, right? About 8:30 pm I had finished tacking up the fence boards, but effectively there was a fence. I'll need to return next week to trim some of the boards and build a gate and then return the mixer and other tools and stuff home. Then say good bye to this place for a while.

First pour of new sidewalk and post anchors Prep for last pour
The first section above left shows the new sidewalk and the post anchors. On the right is part of the third section almost ready to pour. Actually, the last pour continued around the house to the left.
Note: This was a long post, possibly too long, but I wanted the project to fall into bigger chunks. This made a long post because I'm such a slow worker but now it's done.

Dawn's been busy cleaning up here room and bookcases. Lou doing other cleanup.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Time To Mesh

We have wireless internet at the house and in the RV. I've been trying for years to find a better system that allows a good signal anywhere around the house, yard and RV. I also would like to have the ability to easily share my Internet connection with fellow campers when we're on the road. When I share, I want some access and bandwidth limitation controls though. I hadn't found a good system that provided a good signal let alone some control, until now.

I ordered a couple of Meraki Outdoor Repeaters Sunday and they arrived Monday afternoon. One of the things I really like is an appliance approach to technology. I just plugged it in and it worked immediately. I then logged in to it's dashboard and easily setup Id's, passwords, and features. Nice system.

Meraki isn't really a home router or access point product. They are trying to setup public Internet access using "mesh" networks. They're located in Mountain View a few miles from home here in Palo Alto. The goal is cheap ubiquitous Internet access. Google is evidently assisting them get started.
I installed a repeater on the roof. It is connected to our DSL Internet connection. The range should be 100-700 feet in radius depending on obstructions. That's been one of the problems. Our house seems to be a very efficient radio shield. Since the device is rated for outdoor installation and is on the roof, the signal is quite good anywhere in the house since the roof doesn't shield the radio waves like the wire lath in the stucco walls does. Also since it is up there, coverage is good in the front and back yards as well.
I also installed a second repeater in the RV and linked it to the home network. When I'm home, I don't need to use the Hughes Satellite Internet dish on the RV but do like to use the RV as a quiet office occasionally. The Meraki repeaters talk to each other and connect into a mesh network. The unit in the RV can get to the Internet via the repeater in the house when parked at home. It can provide wireless connections using the Hughes Satellite Internet connection when on the road. Also, it can provide connections to other campers for free or for fee which can easily be setup or changed as needed using the dashboard. It takes a minute or so for the change to be effective.
It also has the capability to provide both a private wireless system and the public access at the same time or can have a white list of for free access users while providing fee access to others.
The result will hopefully be a better system providing more features with easier control.

One other neat thing is that expanding the mesh network is quite easy and cheap. Meraki Mini repeaters cost $49. The outdoor versions ($99) are basically the same but in a weatherproof housing with the power provided over the cat5 cable. If this works out, I'll probably add another at Dawn's apartment in San Jose. When the RV is parked there it could mesh with it and have a connection. Also, I could carry a spare to loan out at RV rallys or gatherings to increase the range to assist fellow campers to get their email.

Now, to try to reduce the costs of Internet access. Maybe some neighbors could utilize the system and just a couple could pay the telephone company moguls. Or, maybe I can convince a neighbor to install a repeater and I could use their connection and eliminate my copper telephone/DSL connection completely. We currently use Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) as our home phone. The only reason for the copper connection is to have a fast Internet connection (the DSL). Even if neither cost reducing advantage materializes The things are still great for my own WiFi access, better than anything previously tried like router/access points from Linksys, D-link, Netgear, and Belkin.

I've set the system up to provide for fee access here at home with my own laptop set on the white list. The thinks have been working out as expected and perform quite well.

Since I don't have a lot of experience with these yet and none on the road, this posting may be edited if my experience proves different than expected and as specification, features and tests indicate.

More information links:

Meraki  Site
Google and Meraki

Monday, July 9, 2007

We’re Floored

Monday: Still working down at Dawn's place in San Jose. Today we tried to figure the most efficient way to de-goo the floor after removal of the old vinyl tile. We're installing linoleum and did not want the little squares to show through. In addition, many of the old tiles are loose or broken. And the final reason for removing the old flooring is that we do not have enough room under the kitchen counters to afford another 1/4 inch of new floor thickness. The dishwasher barely fits right now.

When we told the other tenant in the house of the new floors, we learned there was some damage to the sub-floor in their bathroom. Today, I exposed enough of that to know how serious it is. Not too serious. Evidently the tubs shower door leaked at both ends and there is some damage under the toilet. It's mostly just a job for under-layment repair except for a spot with minor termite damage. This house was built in 1917 and the bathroom floor was leveled with about 3/4 of an inch of leveling compound on one side. Fortunately, the leveling compound is still good. Tomorrow I should be able to remove the rest of the floor and make the repairs to the under-layment and fix the leaks as well.

Lou finished the goo removal in Dawn's kitchen. With the technique perfected, the other tenant's family room, kitchen and breakfast nook should go fairly quickly. They come to install the flooring this Friday so it looks like we'll meet the deadline.

Tuesday: Lou started to remove the tiles in the kitchen while I goofed off and went to the store to get material for the bathroom floor repair. She called shortly to say that a bunch of the tiles wouldn't come up. I worked most of the rest of the day chiseling off stubborn ones, about a dozen were replaced due to some water damage a number of years ago. We evidently did a wonderful job, that time. We managed to complete most of the family room (9x9), kitchen (9x12) and breakfast nook (7x7).

Wednesday: I concentrated on the bathroom floor repair while Lou finished up in the kitchen. I moved out the range, refrigerator, and dishwasher for her. It was a bit difficult to get the floor back together in time for the tenants use this evening. The damage was a bit more than I had hoped. And, of course, moving the commode is always a thrill. But, mission accomplished.

Thursday: We drove down to San Jose separately. We just had a few things left to do to prepare for the floor installation tomorrow.

Lou has a dentist appointment at 1pm. She came down a little later after mailing our tax returns. No it isn't April, but it is almost 3 months after April and our extension times out. Enough procrastination. We were on the road at tax time, enjoying Western Colorado I think. Last weekend, I prepared the forms using TaxCut, then Lou reviewed and supplemented the information. So off they go.

I pulled out the washer and dryer to remove the flooring under them. i then started a little repair to the under-layment under the diswasher to remove a little bump caused by some water damage a few years ago. Lou arrived and stripped the goo from the floor where the washer and dryer were. i stripped the rest of the floor in the bathroom. Almost done now.

Dawn returned from her class and we enjoyed some leftover pizza from the House Of Pizza for lunch. Great pizza, one of the few things we miss from when we lived there. Then Lou went off to her dental appointment and Dawn went with her.

I remained to cleanup and re-caulk the bathtub shower door. Hopefully preventing further damage to the floor. A call from the tenant would have been helpful.

All done. I was home by 3pm and enjoyed a little R&R in the backyard.

Friday: I headed down to San Jose arriving by 0830 to meet the installers. They were scheduled to arrive between 9-11.

Lou and Dawn came down separately. Dawn's final exam was scheduled for 1000. I walked Dawn to her test and Lou called to say the installers had arrived as i was just starting to return. It's all of three blocks away from the house. Lou watched them while I headed out to the stores to try to get some supplies. It took visits to three stores to get everything that a good hardware store used to provide. When I did return, they already had the floor prepared and were doing a dry fit. This is a very complex installation being sort of an "s" shape going from the breakfast nook, through the kitchen into the family room, all in one piece being about a 30' piece that dodges all the kitchen cabinets. Because the whole thing is also nearly 20' wide, there is also some piecing in the nook and family room but the main path through the house is one piece. It was almost painful to watch them get it in but it worked out pretty well. Except, they were not able to finish, only completing the big piece and the rest of the nook. Monday, they will return to complete the bathroom and Dawn's kitchen and finally the family room. This didn't please the tenants but what are you going to do? Hind site is 20/20 and it's obvious that it would have been better to have scheduled it for Thursday but then we would have still needed to have the place torn up some through the previous weekend to repair the under floors. It will be nice when it's done.

This is an old house with real, wide board baseboards. I didn't want a bunch of vinyl baseboard nor quarter round additions so I removed the baseboards for that "perfect" look when they are finished. I reinstalled the wood baseboards in the breakfast nook and painted them so at least it was ready to move in to. It was rather late when I left but earlier than I had planned since I didn't have to also complete the family room baseboards.

Lou and Dawn headed down to Fresno after lunch to help Lou's sister move into her new house.

Saturday: Before the installers left Friday, they replaced the washer, dryer, refrigerator and range. Unfortunately, the water valves for the washer leaked when they were turned on. I came down this morning to replace the valves. Since I was there, I also re-installed the dishwasher. I got home about 3pm. Long week. Time to relax.

Sunday: A day of rest.
Monday: Up early to get to San Jose to meet the floor crew. They finished the installation with ease about 1 pm. I installed most of baseboards. I still have to install the baseboards in the tow holes of the kitchen and bathroom counters. I was going to use vinyl base molding but I've had enough trouble getting it to stick to the wall, like always, that I've changed my mind and will install plastic baseboard molding instead to see how it works. I tightened the copper tubing connector under the dishwasher which stopped the leak. I finished up about 4pm. I stopped by Home Depot to get the base molding and will install it tomorrow. I also still need to finish Dawn's apartment baseboards and move her back into her kitchen.

Tuesday: (estimated) Sears returns to attempt the repair of the dishwasher which has an error code showing. I'll finish up with Dawns place. I understand it might rain Wednesday, which is bad timing as that is when I can finally get back to the concrete work there.

The Future: Sometime next week, we, hopefully, will head out in the RV for a few weeks for some much needed rest and recuperation. But first, I'll need to actually pour the concrete walk in San Jose.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Three Day Weekends

Since Dawn only has classes three days a week and is through a little after noon each day, I tend to work short days there, sort of like semi-retired. In addition, we get three day weekends each week. Now maybe, you understand why the concrete project there in San Jose is taking so long.

I actually do a little work here at home. So one recent accomplishment was adding more sprinklers in the front yard to provide more even watering. The parking strip and the side lawn were quite dry. That project worked out and the lawn is already green, though still thin.

In the back yard, i added another sprinkler as well. The lawn is watered by several rainbird sprinklers covering large areas and there is one spot by the deck that just doesn't get watered due to the circular pattern of the watering.  I also added some concrete squares to the walkway in the same area thus eliminating some dead lawn with concrete.

Most of the flower beds use drip watering and some of those required attention and also some additions for new plants.

I also spread some compose that's been hanging around for a while and weeded a few flower beds.

But mostly, I enjoy the birds, the yard and relax while playing on the computer and reading.

Dawn does here vast quantities of homework in between shopping trips with Lou.

Lou got domestic and did a lot of cleaning and sewing.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Why I Hate Warrantees And A Detour

Meet the Repairman. I was ready to pour some concrete but the holiday got in the way. In addition, we had to meet a service technician so they can repair the dishwasher in the tenants kitchen. I replaced the door switch assembly a week or so ago and now it's not working the same. The next item to replace, since the new door switch still check good with my meter, is the computer. I'm not comfortable with doing that due to the cost so we started looking at a replacement. After checking, we found that the dishwasher was still under extended warranty. Neat. I haven't been getting those too often recently due to the cost of the plans and the difficulty dealing with repairmen, service windows, etc. Anyway, today the technician was to arrive between 8am and noon. No problem, just a little early arrival there since I'm already working there everyday anyway. about 1230, the tech called and said he was running a little late and needed to take his lunch before coming by. So much for service windows. He came by, didn't know much and after much discussion with the "super" tech at the office, decided that the door switch was bad. he never opened the dishwasher or tested the switch, as I had done to identity that the switch that I replaced did have a bad contact. Now the ship the replacement switch to the house, should arrive in one week and have another appointment scheduled for the 17th. After he replaces it, it likely won't fix it since I actually did open the thing up and tested the replacement switch as being good. So when he comes next week, he'll replace the switch which might make it work a day or two due to rattling it but most likely it will fail again, requiring another appointment or two to replace the actual problem of the computer board. Now this is why I don't usually get extended warranties nor go too far at trying to fix these modern junk appliances. Just buy cheap and replace on failure is my normal modus operandi.

And a detour. We got a call that our new flooring has arrived at Lowe's. We scheduled the installation for Friday the 13th.  I hope that isn't a problem. That gives us a week to do the repairs we need to do and remove the old flooring. Neither Lowe's, nor anybody else, will remove old flooring without testing for asbestos and even then it's a different visit. I don't really like contractors. Their work usually doesn't meet my workmanship like standards, however, laying linoleum is something we really don't like to do. We removed the tiles from Dawn's kitchen which went well and now we need to get rid of the goo. There are various typed of glue used to attach the tiles and reattach the loose tiles. Lou laid this floor and did an outstanding job with alternate black and white tiles inside an all black border. She made the pattern look real good in the five rooms it was in. The floor is now 20 some years old and doesn't show much wear. The reason we're replacing it is that some of the tiles just wouldn't stick and many have become broken or loosened. Enough is enough.
When the professionals install the floor, any problems are on them. When they replaced our kitchen floor here in Palo Alto, there was a small black spot in the middle of the floor when they finished. It was a dead fly pressed into the flooring and though probably quite durable, it's still a fly and still a black spot on a mostly white floor. The manufacturer paid for the replacement but, of course we were slightly inconvenienced with a second installation but the floor is now twice as thick since they just laid the new new over the older new flooring. But here again, we prepped the floor for them by removing the old flooring, three layers, and installing new luan plywood underlayment. We just don't like particle board that much. They only use particle board for underlayment so that prompted us into action. We're getting too old to keep doing this though so maybe next time good enough will be OK.

The house in San Jose has particle board and, maybe I've learned a little, I'll probably replace the damaged particle board it in kind?

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Still At it

After a nice weekend off, we all returned to our labors this week. Dawn to school, Lou to her mold organization, and me to my dirt.

On Sunday, the tenant in San Jose also called to say the diswasher was not working, again. I checked it and found the same error code of the door not being latched but it was fully closed and the door switch which I replaced last week is still good so it is likely the control board now. Not wishing to chase this problem forever I started looking for a new dishwasher. But then we checked and found it had an extended warranty. I hate that, not remembering. I haven't been buying extended warranties recently but fortunately did for this. So they'll be out to fix it Thursday.

I completed the preparation for the concrete work and was planing on pouring the concrete Thursday, originally Tuesday, but now it will probably be week after next. We're having the flooring replaced there and it is now in so we need to remove the old flooring before they install the new. In addition, there is some damage to repair in one of the bathrooms. It will all inconvenience the tenants for about a week with no floors and a little mess but the reward will be new floors. They have two toddlers that may present a little problem. I'm planning all week to do the removal and repair so hopefully can schedule the installation for Friday after next. We don't work on the place Friday and the weekends. Got to relax sometime.

Pouring the Basement Floor
Tuesday morning crews arrived with a concrete pumping truck to pour the basement floor for the new hpouse across the street. Too bad I had to miss it. I love to watch that kind of stuff. It's really going to be quite a house, even though it will be wall to wall on the lot. There will be two bedrooms, a bathroom and a huge recreation room in the basement. There are two huge window wells so even though it's a basement, it will have full height floor to ceiling windows on two walls and even includes a 15x15 foot patio. The other two floors will be more conventional with three bedrooms upstairs. As big is the house is, it will have a one car garage. I guess something had to go. They'll have a tiny rear yard. The house is about 40x40 on a 50x100 foot lot with a 25 foot setback in front. Fun to watch the construction.

Stanford Fireworks
Tuesday night we walked over to the Stanford University campus for a fireworks show. We sat in the bleachers at the tennis courts and got a good view of the show. I shot a little video of the fireworks but I can't get it nor the recent pictures off the camera. I hate technology!

Tonight (Wednesday the 4th) we'll stayed home, relaxed and watched the fireworks shows on TV. We did go next door for a little backyard fireworks show that our neighbor does each year.