Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Fair Experience

Sunday: (07/27) Rebuilt one of the cabinets in the laundry room to fit the new arrangement. This poor cabinet was reduced by 6 inches in width when installed previously and now lost another 6 inches with the new arrangement. Poor thing. I also installed the sink.

Monday: (07/28) We, mostly, finished moving back into the laundry room. I did the first load of laundry. It's nice to have a drain that drains and doesn't leak, for a change. This house has had several problems with drain pipes that try to send water uphill, not the best method of trying to drain water.

A platform for the new cabinets and to cover the drain pipe. Finished laundry room.
Tuesday: (07/29) I built a platform, a couple of days ago, to support the new cabinets from Ikea over the drain pipe that was attached to the wall surface. Most of the storage below it is usable. The finished laundry room, shown on the right above, looks a lot different. I wish I'd have taken a before picture. It a night and day difference.

A new shed for the water heater started.
The water heater shelter construction begins.

Lou and Dawn were in San Jose all day but returned for dinner. We went up to Redwood City to Harry's Haufbrau for dinner. We qll had pastrami dinners. A real treat.

Wednesday: (7/30) We were up early, had leftover French toast and bacon for breakfast and were on the road to Paso Robles.

California Mid State Fairgrounds. Nice grounds at the fair include this fountain.
We visited the California Mid State Fair in Paso Robles. We always wanted to visit but never made it to the fair before this. We've been hanging around home this summer and we were only going for the day so we drove down in the car with the idea of using a motel if we didn't feel like returning today. We arrived there before 11am, walked around the grounds a while before any of the buildings opened at noon. It wasn't crowded as we explored all the animal barns, craft displays and such.
Steer judging at the fair. They still enter things they make into the fair.
It a nice country fair with animal judging and displays of the things made by local residents. Our own fair is a city fair with little of this.

One of the huge evaporative coolers in the animal barns.
One of the reasons we haven't made it to this fair is a concern about the heat. Two years ago we were nearby in Pismo Beach, 30 miles away, during fair time but it was 115 degrees there and mid 70's at the beach. We passed on the visit at that time. This year it's in the mid 90's but quite comfortable. Even the animals are comfy. There are lots of fans and many of these huge evaporative coolers (4 feet square).

We did things backwards (as usual) and parked at the fair but left to go downtown for dinner. I don't care for fair food, over priced, questionable sanitation and not very good at best, usually. Dawn and Lou wanted a chance to visit a thrift store downtown then we ate at the Downtown Brewery. Lou and Dawn shared a rack of beef ribs and I had a nice hamburger. We also stopped by the library before heading back to the fair on the free shuttle.The fair is one of the best around these parts. Our own Santa Clara County Fair is dead, not even worth a visit. We do like the Watsonville Fair and the Humbolt fair but that's about it for good fairs in California that we've found though we haven't been to all of them, yet.

It became VERY crowded in the evening. so we headed home about 730pm.

We stopped for gas in San Miguel. Gas was $4.45, still 21 cents less than at home but not as cheap as we've seen along the road today, some down to $4.29. But, it's not worth a tow nor the inconvenience of the crowds around the fair to save a total of $2 on a fill up. It used to be that saving a few cents per gallon meant something but when it's up in the multiple dollars per gallon saving 20 cents a gallon doesn't amount to a very high percentage of the egregious purchase price of a tank of gas. I'm not fooled any more by slight reductions in the price of gas now that it's so high priced. The price is always slower for fall than it is to rise and never drops as far as it rose for the same change in the price of a barrel of oil. But I digress.

Nice trip.

Note: No, we haven't given up using the RV. We're just hanging around home for the remodeling and with the price of gas, we do, at least, consider the most economical way to travel, even taking buses and trains around home for some trips. We do plan to be back on the road for a while by mid September.

Water Heater Cabinet.JPG
Thursday: (07/31) Back home and back at it. Just doing little projects in prep of the siding installation and window replacement. The water heater cabinet is finished.
Friday: (08/01) I installed a new mail slot through the wall. The existing is in the garage door. When the door is replaced, i don't want it in the door. Lowe's seems to be acting like an un-concerned vendor. It's going on 4 weeks now and the door isn't even scheduled for installation yet. When we stopped by the store, on the second time, we found out it had an unidentifiable hold on the installation. On hold and forgotten is more like it. We think we got it straightened out but still haven't been contacted about the installation yet. I'll have to get on their case next week.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Continuing On

Friday: (07/18) Lou and I worked a little on our project. She as the clear thinking one using the tools me as some muscle when needed. We're a pretty good team. We add up to a whole wit (1/2 +1/2).

For dinner, we went to Chevy's Fresh Mex restaurant. We had some coupons for a 3.99 second dinner with the purchase on another. We got our two dinners shared among the three of us an brought home enough left overs for another meal. Cheap and exellent food too. That offsets a gallon of gas.

Saturday; (07/19) I was feeling good so finished the plumbing in the laundry room. I don't really like plumbing but it's always good to finish any project or portion there of. Now for the cabinets. Lou helped out as needed and worked on her dolls.

Interesting wallpaper under the wood paneling in laundry room.JPG Why can't water flow uphill like this dri=ain pipe wants?
Above left, when the dark wood paneling was removed, the old "wall paper" was exposed. It was magazine pictures from the 50's. The removal of the paneling fixed a minor termite infestation and made the room brighter. Above right, this drain pipe is working extra hard since it drains uphill. What was the "plumber thinking"?

Sunday; (07/20) Lou and I started hanging the dry wall in the laundry room. "Funny" how such a small wall is so time consuming to fit with drywall. Lou took her time fitting the pieces due to all the piping and other obstacles. We have a problem doing projects like this because we don't do them in a workmanship like manner, we do the properly instead. That takes a little longer. It's also why we usually don't hire contractors and do all our own work. We are getting a bit more lazy which is why the siding and windows are being done by a contractor. I hope we aren't a disappointed.

Monday; (07/21) Dawn returned to San Jose for some appointments. Lou and I finished hanging the dry wall in the laundry room and did the taping.

We stopped by Chevy's Fresh Mex restaurant for an early dinner using another of their generous coupons.

Tuesday; (07/22) Lou went down to San Jose for her doll class.

I finished the tape and texture of the walls

Wednesday; (07/23) I prime painted the walls. Lou and Dawn made their way home stopping for dinner at the Palo Alto Creamery restaurant.

Thursday; (07/24) Breakfast at the Chavez Market and Taqueria in Redwood City (RWC). We needed some paint for the laundry room project and our local Orchard Supply Hardware (OSH) store has been out of the things we need on too many on our recent visits. Since they aren't restocking they must be getting ready to close. Too bad, they used to be a good hardware store and still are usually better the the Home Depot and Lowe's stores. The store OSH in RWC seems better stocked usually. We also stopped by a nursery and Lou and Dawn got an artichoke plant, a papyrus plant and some duck weed for the pond.

Friday: (07/25)  Still at the laundry room.  I built a platform to hold the new Ikea cabinets. The platform covers the drain pipe and allows the cabinet to be against the wall. It also raises the cabinet higher so the doors will swing over the steps into the house. Always something that needs special treatment. Lou and Dawn have been attacking the house cleaning. Our place may become respectable?

Saturday: (07/26) We started assembling the Ikea cabinets for installation in the laundry room. Even though they are probably the best constructed junk cabinets made, they are still cheaply made, the new way of the world. With all the add-ons that make storage easier, they most definitely are NOT cheap. Probably the first and last we get. I prefer real plywood more than sawdust cabinetry.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Big Sissy

Last night was quite fun. About 3pm, I returned home from another material finding run. I was feeling a little pain in the lower back. By 4pm, when Lou and Dawn arrived home, I was in pretty bad shape with excruciating back pain. I had awaken the night before with the same pain but after finally getting to sleep I awoke in the morning feeling pretty good.

Doctor Lou, who has a working memory, said "the last time you felt this way and were writhing on the floor in agony, you had a kidney stone." She was nice enough to drive me to Kaiser's emergency room where they gave me a shot which fixed the pain, did a CT scan and confirmed Doctor Lou's diagnosis. Four hours later we were on the way home. A fun evening.

Fortunately, it's been 10 years or so since that last episode. I'm now taking it easy since I'm now a drugged person. Lou's taken over my laundry room face lift project. I can't be trusted near sharp tools and fire.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Work Goes On

Monday: (07/14) Dawn went to assist at one of the summer schools again today.

Lou and I went shopping, first at Home Depot, then Ikea, then at an old house salvage company. We decided on some cabinets for the laundry room from Ikea and a new wash tub and other material from Home Depot. The room will look quite a bit different when done.

It's interesting how one thing leads to another once we start a little project. It's also interesting how easily I'm convinced to "buy" rather than "build" cabinets. Also having a contractor do the siding and window work. Neither would have occurred in my youth. I guess it is true that you do get smarter with age.

Tuesday: (07/15) The day started with great plans but soon evolved in to a typical day. While Lou and I were enjoying breakfast at the front porch watching the world go by, my phone advised me I had messages. A couple were just the usual lost Verizon messages that finally appeared. The last was a call from my dentist advisig that I had an appointment this afternoon.

Lou was headed down to San Jose for a couple of days to attend her doll making classes. With the cost of gas, it's cheaper for her to stay there in Dawn's apartment for the night to attend the two days of classes. Dawn went off to assist at school again today.

I didn't want to get too involved and forget my dentist appointment so I tinkered in the laundry room for an hour or so then followed instructions from the boss and cleaned the bathroom, then showered and went shopping for some of the inevitable forgotten materials needed to the face lift of the laundry room. I finished just in time to pickup Dawn from work. We went downtown for lunch deciding to eat at the New York Cheesecake Factory. We shared a nice kahlua chocolate cheese cake and a meatloaf lunch. All very good.

After lunch we stopped by the Border's book store for a while, then I dropped Dawn off at the Rasputin's book store in Mountain View and I headed to my appointment. I found some "cheap" gas on the way ($4.47 for the cheapest grade). Our local station is still $4.66. After my appointment and now with clean teeth, I picked up Dawn.

Our dinner was leftovers, some of our best meals. Roast beast and grilled squash.

So the day didn't quite go as originally planned but was pleasant all the same, even with the visit to the dentist.

Wednesday: (07/16) Lou's in San Jose for her doll class. Dawn assisted at school again. I continued with the laundry room project.

Thursday: (07/17) Dawn was off to San Jose early for a couple of appointments. Lou met her there. I continued the laundry room project,

There is a lot of replacing and rearranging being done. I went on another material acquisition trip to the hardware store. When I returned home about 3pm I decided to call it quits for the day. I wasn't feeling well. See next post for details.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Baked Palo Alto

I know! What we consider hot here in Palo Alto isn't nearly as hot as much of the rest of the country, but it still feels hot to us here.

The shop is gone, temporarily..JPG
Monday: (07/07) I removed the roof and the framing from the shop walls today. It did make for a hot days work with the temperature being over 100 today.

Lou and Dawn picked most of the rest apricots on our tree. She froze some and gave bags to most of the neighbors as well. That's a problem with a fruit tree or garden. Everything gets ripe at one time and then something has to be done with them.
Tuesday: (07/08) Not much work today. Too hot. I did finish up the removal of the shop roof by removing a metal header on the wall of the house. Sounds simple but it was glued on. I also disassembled the framing I removed yesterday down to individual 2x4's and stacked it all away.

Wednesday: (07/09) I got up very early to attend a Webinar on how to use my AlphaFive software. A webinar is a seminar that is held online. We'll, since it involved the use of a computer, things immediately started to go wrong. I had no Internet connection this morning. I finally got a connection after tinkering around for an hour and a half. Of course, the problem turned out to be Microsoft's fault. My computer downloaded an automatic upgrade yesterday. Before I went to bed, I restarted my computer so that it would be running at full speed today. It slows down with use. Microsoft's patch didn't become affective until after the reboot. The patch caused a problem with my firewall, ZoneAlarm, making it not see the Internet. I eventually made an adjustment to ZoneAlarm, reducing it's security a little and got connected again an hour after the six hour Webinar started. Fortunately they were covering basic stuff then and I'm familiar with that.

This afternoon when I read my news feeds, I learned about the patch and what I did was exactly what ZoneAlarm recommended to get back on line. They also recommend removing the Microsoft patch as a better fix. A frustrating start to the day. Just getting up at 5:30 to attend the seminar that was on Eastern time was tough enough, I thought, until I tried to connect.

Well, the remodel started today. The windows got their final measurement and are now ordered. About two weeks until they should be ready to install.

Other than the Webinar, I took the day off from real work. It's over 100 degrees again today so being inside with our cooler running is quite pleasant.

Lou made apricot cobbler with some of our home grown apricots and she and Dawn finished the laundry.

Inside the green house..JPG The green house..JPG
Thursday: (07/10) I removed the green house today. On the left above, the inside of the green house. It really is just used to protect the yard plants in the winter. It was already mostly empty since it's summer. On the right is a view from the outside. This project went a LOT quicker then the shop removal thou I thought it would take longer than it did. I was through by 1:30, before it got really hot (only mid 90's today).

The green house is gone to allow residing..JPG
View after removal from opposite end. When the siding installation is finished, I'll reinstall it. It needed new roofing anyway. The old corrugated vinyl sheets were pretty well burnt by the sun, in addition to the holes I've poked in them with ladder. The side walls, which are white rather than clear, are in perfect shape. Interesting.

Note the evaporative cooler in the distance. It is quite small but the air enters the sun room at the back of the house and blows through the entire house exiting at the garage. Every room is cooled very well with no air conditioner needed. For some reason there are very few people around here with evaporative coolers? Someday I may hookup the RV's solar system to power the cooler when the sun shines. That solar power is basically going to waste when we're home and 2/3 of the cooling is when the sun shines. That sounds like a project, but it goes to the bottom of the long list.

Friday: (07/11) I spent the morning working on the computers doing upgrades of my ZoneAlarm firewall to fix the bad patch from Microsoft yesterday. I then re-upgraded Windows. A bunch of work for something that should be automatic. What's wrong with these people?

About 2pm, Lou and Dawn took me to the Crazy Buffet in Sunnyvale for lunch. It's a pretty good Chinese buffet and the closest to us. We were in the area anyway to look and light fixtures. I also picked up some panels at our closest Lowe's there.

Saturday: (07/12) Lou started by moving out of the laundry area. Today, the laundry area in the garage was the victim of our efforts. It needed attention for several reasons, a bad leaky drain pipe for the washer, some other plumbing needs, some rotten wood, even some dry wood termites in some wood paneling. Most of it was ripped out in preparation for a new facelift.

I also moved our four wheeled bike from the side yard, aired the tires and washed it. It's ready for a little jaunt if anybody feels vigorous.

What joy! the Internet is down again but this time it may be something I did. I cleaned up outside by the phone service entrance. I probably rattled or flooded the phone wiring. We have dialtone there but not in the house and no DSL for the Internet. Something to occupy the morning tomorrow. To coin a phrase, "If it isn't one thing, It's another!"

Sunday: (07/13) My brother Ernie celebrates his 22nd anniversary of his 39th birthday today. It's an interesting way to calculate an historic date but any calculation that ends up as a celebration is a good thing.

I spent a good part of the day finishing up some demolishin in the laundry room and doing a dump run. With that done, I did a little shopping for material.

Lou and Dawn went down to San Jose to go to a sale at the historical museum there. Interesting but fortunately no treasures found.

Lou fixed salmon salad sandwiches for dinner. She used some of the salmon she smoked a while back. Very good.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Our 2008 Photo Album

Click on the photo album on the bottom of the sidebar to the right to view a number of our photos taken in 2008.

I finally uploaded them for printing. The sale of $.09 each at Walmart finally got me to collect and upload them. There are so many bad pictures that I wind up taking. With digital cameras and lots of memory, what's the reason to be particularly artistic and precise in taking only good pictures?

I need to spend some time now adding captions to the photos.