Saturday, September 14, 2019

TOO Many Puns So It's Just Blog Post about the Build Project

Things have been moving FAST.

The plumbing (owner permit...a.k.a ME).  I buggered it up the first time.  Slammed through another day with new help and MUCH more knowledge thanks to the friends who helped me through the first draft and passed the inspection 49 hours after the "fail". I got a green sticker on a random pipe sticking out of the ground.    I also ended up with 2 big boxes of unused bits and pieces to return to 3 or 4 different hardware stores.  As soon as I have slept a bit, I will get on that.

The first two assistants taught me a TON!  Thanks Jyl and Snuff!  For reals.
The final one...I told him that since it passed I would think of him every time I took a dump.  He was flattered.

So, the hole was filled and tamped. Gravel...tamping, more gravel...more tamping...lather, rinse, repeat.

Got the permit Thursday morning at about 8:30 AM and by 5pm Friday, 90% of the rebar is in.  The builder had a question about a detail (rebar drawn as though floating in the air...hard to pour concrete
on that and keep it in place).  So, he added some more rebar, had me take a picture and send it to his boss (aka Mrs Builderman) and hopefully the engineer will OK the slight modification.

At one point, the Mr Builderman said, "I tend to overbuild things."  Yep.  They should put that on the sign.

This morning 3 people showed up, 2 barely know me!!! And helped me rough in the pex tubes that will distribute heat in the slab in the imaginary magical solar future.  We'll see....
I'm sleeping on it and then in the morning I will go back and start tying them more definitively to the rebar.  The helpers (no names...well, they have names but I don't like to name names) were SUPER good.  None of us had done it but we watched the how-to video.  I watched it on a loop for a couple of hours and took notes because I am me. 
Anyway, here we are:

And the tubes.   I will neaten them up a bit.  I may have help tomorrow morning for that.

I will try to fish out some plumbing pictures too.  Perhaps one of the EPIC plumbers crack on the last assistant.  Cripes!!! It reminded me of the "credit card" joke my sister told me once.
You can admire the beautiful green "right to poop" sticker on the vertical black post.

The builder labor guys complimented me on having all the plumbing in one spot.  YA!!  AND interior wall.  The shortest heat tube goes through the kitchen and bath areas on either side of that.  Kitchen faces south.  The roll of tubing on the left of the picture is where the manifold will be.  It ends up under the kitchen counter.  I had wanted it in the bathroom but at 4'10" wide, with a 2'6" door...and a water supply pipe (that might actually be in the kitchen???  was supposed to be in the bathroom but the wall is 2" thick max so things have floated back and forth around it.  I don't really care...drill a hole and voila...water supply and most incoming water plumbing back in the bathroom), it was too crowded. So I remembered I didn't have to put this near the hot water heater.  If I put solar units on the south 2nd story wall or porch roof, I'll want that thing on the south wall anyway.  And it sorted out the tubing plan.   

I must have done a dozen tubing lay outs.  All of which would have worked and none of which we ultimately used.  Bits of each.  The boards are where walls will be more or less.  It struck me last night on layout 3001 that I had TOO MANY TUBES going through the bathroom if the main manifold is in there.  I'd be melting the toilet wax ring all damn winter.   That is apparently a thing based on the BIG RED LETTER WARNINGS in the installation manual.   Moving the manifold simplified the layout and limited the number of tubes that had to cross each other.  

Turning also turned (HA) out to be the biggest installation challenge.  So, at the suggestion of EG, a super friend and helper, we went the long way on the north living room and south/east living dining area.  BINGO.  Saved tubing and labor and it was easier to get into the vestibule where the solar batteries will live.
I thought to switch the supply/return path on the north loop so the sleeping area will get the water after the living area.  I like a chilly bedroom.  

Now I'm wondering if I could hook up inground tubes through the landscape around the house but deep in the ground and chill the floor in the summer.  

One helper (Hi C!!) suggested that this heated floor will be excellent for passing out drunk so I need to start drinking ASAP.

Cousin-in-law BG (not a real Norwegian has that status) had already suggested drinking when the first plumbing inspection was a fail and there was 2 days to hit the next inspection.  I may consider it next week.  The concrete pour will either happen or not happen.  Either way, I will be stressed out.  

In better hair is suddenly down to my belt!  And NO I did not switch to high-waisted pants.  Since I am the shortest waisted person in the west, I'm sticking with the low waisted ones.  I keep the hair braided pretty much all the time so I hadn't noticed it got longer.  

SP and JH let me mooch a shower today and I went for the hair. My head was encased in a hard cap made of dust and scalp grease welded to hair.  Like adobe...hairdobe?  I can't imagine what it did to their drain.  But hey, if they need a new drainpipe run, I not only know how, I have enough plumbing parts in the car and on the porch to do it.  

Thank you to one and all who have helped, visited, encouraged and brought sustenance and expertise (except the Norwegians)

More anon.  

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

40 Days and 40 Nights...CRIPES

So, the builderman and crew did not show up onsite for 40 days (and actually 41 nights but that doesn't fit the biblical reference).  Fortunately, it wasn't raining during that time.  I had more of a dry sea sort of thing than an ark sort of thing at my place.  Big empty ass hole.

At last they DID show back up.  I wasn't just waiting around, I was visiting, calling, texting and driving by the other job sites to ask when they would be back.  We'll leave it there.

The past few days there has been progress.   This is where we are at now:

The white things sticking out of the ground are forms for porch piers.  There will be a few more over on the side toward the road.  The trench is for the drain rock for the "rubble trench foundation".  It will hold up the super heavy wall.  The white rock behind the tiny excavator (the builderman is quite large so the excavator looks even tinier than it is...his crew today was little guys who are closer than they appear....also the dumptruck just beyond the excavator is actually a little bitty thing like a largish golf cart on tracks rather than's like a construction zone in the hobbit movies...perspective is all over the map).  ANYWAY...the white rock is part of a rock wall to the north of the future house holding up what used to be a chunk of hill and is now a steep cut.

Monday, September 2, 2019

New Favorite Old Show

So, I don't have a TV and hence am behind the times on shows.

I've probably blogged about my hoarder show issue.  Well, I found a healthier way to satisfy my yen for thinking others are more messed up than me.

"Til Debt Do Us Part" which I am watching on youtube with a mobile wifi hotspot I checked out from the library for free.

This is a Canadian reality show.  The Canadians are generally more realistic in their reality shows than the 'Mericans are.  This one features a financial advisor who goes to a family with financial woes and works with them for 1 month.  If they behave well, have a good attitude, and demonstrate major life/money changes, they get $5000.00 (Canadian presumably).  Not the huge pay off that 'Mericans would expect.  Like much of Canada, it's toned down and more modest.

Each week there are the predictable plot points which I love in reality TV.  The genre reminds me of the old Batman series in reruns during my childhood.  If it was 5 minutes in to the show, you KNEW the villain would show up, half way and the dynamic duo is trapped in a ridiculously easy to escape predicament, and then it all resolves nicely.

In this show, the premise is that money is a mystery to most people.  Corollary premises (premia?) are that talking about money is taboo, people are unaware of what they spend, that people estimate income based on gross (ignore taxes and other deductions), and outgo based on net (ignore interest paid on credit cards and loans and the expense of ownership for things like vehicles and pets and kids and homes).  The advisor states that the primary reason for divorce or break up is money.  So, facing money issues and being open and solving them together sorts out the relationship as well as the debt problem.

The couples in each show discuss what they THINK is going on.  Some are realistic, most are NOT.  Most also blame each other for the issue.  The advisor goes through months of expenses and tells them what is actually happening.  She includes how much more they spend each month than they bring home.  She shows them where they will be in 5 years if they don't change.   It's a good point.  Not so distant in time that people think they can sort it out late, but not so overwhelming that they give up before they start.

Then, Gail, advisor,she cuts up cards (credit and debit).  She shows them a budget that will work for them each month.  Then she puts money in jars, cash money, for area of expense and they have to make it through the month on that.   That's week 1/day 1.

Each week for the month they have an assignment.  The first week is usually dealing with debt.  Some call credit card companies to get lower interest, some have to get a consolidation loan put on their mortgage to get rid of the credit card debt.

The next week they generally have to show how they can cut expenses more and/or bring home more money.

During relationship assignment week they have to usually talk to each other about money. Sometimes they get to do research like how much it would cost for a stay at home parent to go back to work vs what that work will bring in NET (not gross).  Often, with 2 or more kids, they can save more with a stay at home parent cooking and maybe taking in a kid to babysit, they come out ahead of a full time job.  Sometimes, turns out the spouse has to go to work.

In the end Advisor Gail gives them $5000 or less.  If they are turds or think they could do better than her and hence don't do their tasks, they get less.  One couple that I've seen so far, got bupkis.  Nada. Zero.  Zip.  Zilch.  They did nothing and were snotty little twerps.  It's like the one time Batman and Robin didn't defeat the villain and you knew that one was still out there...haunting.

I am surprised EVERY EPISODE (like 40 so far) that people are SOOO unrealistic about their $$.  Of course, I'm single and thrifty as crap.   There are things in my life that I don't want to face (we won't be blogging about those so bite me), but money isn't one of them.

Most couples, or at least one of the pair, just can't be honest with themselves about their money and where it goes or how much there is.  Geez!  It's like the hoarders who can't see the hoard or the folks on "My 600lb Life" (another of my favorite shows to binge watch), who can't see that they are eating enough to support 600lbs...must be glandular?  The money must be evaporating?  The hoard is "good stuff" that is useful in the immediate future...etc.

I think it's rewarding for me to watch because I have work3ed on most of the issue presented already in the past or don't have a tendency toward those particular vices.
It's nice to see what I already do or know that the advisor points out.  I also get some validation on things I've advocated but not done, and encouragement to keep following my own money choices even if something else MIGHT be more profitable.  I'm doing fine, I don't have to be rich.  I pay my own freight and am prepared for the occasional mid level crisis cost.  It also shows me the stress I no longer have since the debt is gone.  Zero.  Zilch. Nada.  Nil. Bupkis.

So, things I do that got validated:

1) Write down what I spend on a daily basis.  I do that MOST days.  Once in a while I miss a day or forget to bring a receipt home to record.  I try to write down 10-15% more than I guesstimate the costs to be.  Most people underestimate spending (and calorie intake) so I bump it up just in case.

2) Have a planned monthly budget.  It fluctuates and since expenses are fluctuating with construction and life...I write up a target for each category each month.  I "WRITE" with pencil on graph paper.  That works for me.  I don't want to turn on an electronic device to track my money.  It isn't "in the cloud" and when the computer or whatever device craps out, I still have all my information.

3) Each month I try to shave down an area that is creeping up in costs. Last month I spent too much on food in all categories:  Groceries (which is just food, not TP or soap or etc), dinner out, work lunches out, and coffee out.  I suspect I will be able to cut groceries but with visitors and lots of work trips, will probably not be able to cut the dining out.  So, I cut the grocery $$ and made a list of what I have on hand and a few things I could make with what I have.  I left the dining out lines high this month because being realistic makes for better success than being in fantasy land.

4) I plan for income interruptions or decreases.  It's happened in the past and could happen again.  Best to live on less than I bring in and get used to it.

5) I do NOT borrow to invest.  CRIPES!  I can't believe people do that but apparently it is common.  Actually, right now I don't borrow for anything.

6) I live mostly on cash.  She makes people live entirely on cash and I have done that.  Right now I use the credit card for gas, travel, storage unit bill, and a few other things that I may choose to buy online.  Otherwise, cash (or check) and immediately put it on the budget sheet.  I pay the credit card off weekly and I never buy material rewards, I just wait until I can get a credit put on the card.  Thus, I do not pay interest (ANY interest at this moment) and instead I take that 1% credit card points deal and put it back on the card.  That's 1% off my gas and storage bills.   I don't put those cash back things in the budget sheet.  I also don't put savings interest on the income on the budget sheet.  The total of those two is under 400$/year most years.  If times get tight, I will put those things on the sheet and track even more closely.

7) I track my income on the budget sheet.  When I get paid at work, get a tax refund, or a windfall, it goes on the sheet.  I leave off the stuff noted in #6 for now.   At the end of the month I total up the income and the outgo on the same sheet of paper and see the difference.

These last three the advisor hasn't recommended in the episodes I've seen, but I them and they work for me:

8) I not only track the monthly totals, I do a daily running total and a daily average.

9) Each month I have a target for the number of "no spend" days.  Those are days with zero money going out.  It makes me remember to gas up on days I'm already doing errands...and it makes me skip the occasional trip to town if it means a fuel up on a day that is otherwise "no spend."  I can usually get 10 no spends.  With more focus, I can get it up to 15.

10)  I get a real paycheck and deposit it. I just had someone tsk at me for doing that and I lashed out a tad.  She said something about my living in 1989 for not having direct deposit.  I said something about being the only one in the general vicinity with no debt and no current financial woes, hence I will just keep doing what works for me.

Monday, July 1, 2019

In the Beginning Was the Hole, and the Hole Was Good (also...a moose)

Well, the hole wasn't really the beginning.  There was the planning, the paying, the paying more, the engineering, the permit, permit renewal, other permits...and before that buying land.  Before that saving for land and looking for land, and before that...  you get the idea.

So, here we are.  Last Tuesday evening the builder man (not an actual redneck Santa, but he could pass for one) staked out the location for the build.  It ended up further uphill than originally planned.   That will help with drainage, but I sacrifice a bit of water pressure because the cistern is also uphill, but less so now.

Then on Sunday morning "early" (9:14am isn't "early" in my's "10ish" in my book but I am widely known to have a stick up my butt about time) the equipment was delivered at the bottom of the hill and the trucks left.  I had a radio show to do at 2pm so at noon, after building a super rad rooster coop which may be featured in a later blog post, and a bunch of other stuff, I cleaned up, washed my incredibly sweaty filthy hair, and headed in to town for the show.  As I'm driving south, I see a builder truck heading my place.  Dang it.  But it's all staked out and what was I going to do anyway?  There was no back-up DJ for the show so off I went.

3 hours later, driving home, I meet 2 builder trucks heading back to town.  Damn!  But I am greeted with this at my place:

That's right, I am now the proud owner of a big ass hole.  Probably will be bigger and deeper by tonight.  I will try to run home mid-day and check it out.  It's right where the stakes are so, that's good.

And now...the moose!  It's a yearling male the must have been recently booted from his mom's place.  That happens about now as the new calves are being born.  The yearling males are idiots and make bad housing choices.  He and I about bumped noses by my driveway and creek...we were both occupied with other thoughts.

I looked up to see a moose, way too close headed straight toward me.  Not a tree to hide behind and in the creek which was close, he would be much more coordinated than me.  They don't see so well to the front so I figured that was my best bet.  I waved my arms around and screamed like a wee girl and it ran UPHILL away from cover, back toward the creek cover, back up hill...idiot.  A mature female or male would have just trotted over and stomped me to death. 
NOW I am not walking around my place texting.  I pay attention.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The Builder Has Landed

Apparently, there will be some construction at my place this summer.

Stealth footage recorded a builder with his tiny minion placing stakes:

The minion is extra stealthy and wasn't caught on camera, but you can see his detritus...the paint can.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

If Only "TED" Were Indeed X

As in an ex-thing.  A thing which is no more.  Deceased.  Dead.  A thing of the past.

I LOATHE the TEDtalk style.  The lesser TEDtalk, the TED-X offshootery that happens in every venue that can host a bunch of pompous pseudo-intellectuals in a single room with theater seats and a stage, is even worse.

It isn't always the info.  Once in a while the information is fine.  But mostly it's crap.
Still, it's the signature TED style.  The late 1980s Janet Jackson/ Madonna face mounted microphone.  The faux set dressing:  fake living room, fake vintage PBS interview show complete with 2 chairs, coffee table and a fern, fake college lecture with a podium.  The giant ass screen for the sad power point presentation is truly the worst.

I've seen people speak in real life, like Joel Salatin, who are interesting and fun and very informative.  Then I've seen them on a TED, or worse TEDX, and they conform to the style and are crap.

When did bad meeting presentations become public infotainment?
There is no doubt a real answer but I don't care.  I want it to stop.

Here, in the order they occur to me, are things I find annoying:

1) Cramming exactly 1 soundbite of information into 6-11 minutes.  Apparently there is a rule that only one single tiny bit of info can be shared.  This has several bad consequences

2)  Fluffing the info with personal, or more likely fake personal, stories illustrating that one tiny point.  How your mother had too much TP around the house so now you buy it one square at a time.  How you had a dog which proved dogs are awesome.  Jesus.

3)  The shitty power point.  Also used to fill visual and temporal space.  The speaker stops for each slide so you can read it or look at it.  Or, worse, laugh at their lame lame lame visual joke.

4) S l o w  t a l k i n g.  To fill the time with a tiny tiny tiny individual bit of info, the speaker speaks so damn slowly I'm afraid my heart will stop.  Jesus.  Speak at your normal pace.

5) BROAD range of tone to show emotion and connect (say each word with special emphasis in your head while YOU rrreeeaaaddd this!).  Cripes.  I remember seeing a professional storyteller when I was about 4 years old, before I started school, at the local library.  I'm in my 50s now and I'm still pissed about wasting my time with that woman emphasizing and physically miming every thing she said.  You'll see the same style in TED/X talks.

6) The physical miming of anything remotely mime-able in the talk.  Using hands to show those piles of TP your mom had, and then crunching your whole body down like a clown college drop out to show the hilariously small amount of TP you now keep at the house.

7) Waiting for the laugh which often never comes.  The speakers are clearly over rehearsed and think they know when the laugh will come.  I still watch the occasional TED talk if someone recommends it and secretly, or openly, enjoy the moment where the talker realizes that they are not funny or their power point slid is not funny.

8) Walking around the stage/faux-set for no reason.  It's like they have the list of crap my 8th grade speech teacher handed out...or their pageant coach told them.   ...13--connect with each audience member individually by looking them in the eye.   Yeah, don't.  Mick Jagger and James Brown needed to use the whole stage, you don't.  Al Gore was a popularizer of this with his lift showing how the environment is dying.  Cute once...not very cute but I appreciated his effort...not cute now.  You are telling me how you buy a square of toilet paper and are therefore better than your mother and better than anyone who stupidly buys it by the roll.  You don't need to walk to the far corner of the stage and lean over and look down on me.  The metaphorical down looking is plenty.

9) Hubris.  I don't care that you buy a single square of toilet paper and I don't believe it makes you better than rollers, as those of us who buy it by the roll are called.  You still need to wipe your butt like the rest of us and we now suspect that we don't want to shake your hand.

10) Inventing labels.  TED talkers like to invent or promote labels.  They don't lead with them.  They lead with a question.  They sneak the label into the middle or end of the talk so that we, the stupider people in the listening audience, can come to the two most important conclusions:  1) the speaker is right; 2) the speaker is super smart and better than everyone else.

11) Leading with a question.  Why?  Do you think it makes you smart to set up a straw man and then very slowly knock it down one lame joke/slide/mime/walk/lean/label at a time with your own answer to the fake question that was on NO ONE's mind?  Because I think that.  Hence, I am smart and right and you are stupid.

12) Dressing the part.  Poor Joel Salatin had to wear a sports coat.  He's a farmer and part of his brand/schtick is to dress like one.  He has excellent voice projecting and is a naturally appealing and LOUD speaker.  On his TED talk he looked uncomfortable and stilted.  The minimalist I watched and am using as a model for the TP talker work a dress a bit too short and in one color with little black flats.  A "minimalist" formal look I suppose.  I was distracted by the obviously maximal hair product consumption.  I don't know if she and Joel were peer pressured into this or if there is a code to get on the stage and they don't let you out if you show up with actual farmer clothes or minimal hair products.  I wonder what would happen if someone refused the face-mic.

I want to get on a TED or even TEDX talk so I can go on stage and then NOT do the "style" and see what happens?

Would the audience risk wrinkling their khakis and sensible shoes to run up on the stage beat me?  Would they throw their brand name decaf lattes at me?
Would they get confused about what was going on and quietly slip out to see if the real talk with just a single digestible and currently fashionable bit of info was being given in the next auditorium over?

What if I gave 2 points of info or told an actually funny story?  Would chaos ensue?  The zombie apocalypse?  What if I kept talking while they actually laughed rather than courtesy laughed?
What if I didn't even TRY to act out what I was saying and what if I didn't wait for them to read the 3 (it's always 3) bullet points on the power point slide?  Oh MY GOD!  What if I didn't use power point?????  No.  I take it back.  Heresy.  I would be burned as a witch.

But at least I wouldn't have anyone email me another f'ing TED talk.

That said, I have looked up TED talkers and gotten their real information elsewhere.  I suspect it is a way to promote their real work.  I hope there is SOME legitimate reason for it.

In conclusion a HaiTED (Like a haiku, but TEDcentric)

All TED talks are bad.
Not all TED talkers are bad
TED makes you look bad

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

The Spork Is Dead. Long Live the Spork

There is a frugal method called "putting out the word."  If you are looking for something, you mention it to people. 

Recently it worked twice.  I'll blog about the inadvertent word putting outage here.

The post about my lost spork.  A friend (HI ANGELA!) read it and sent me a set of stainless steel sporks as a gift!   SO NICE!!!  I have used one for 2 meals a day every work day since I got them.  They are perfect.  Actually, it's a model I was looking at on line and thinking I would order them after I thought about it for a month (thrifty tip:  if you think you want something, wait a month and see if you still want it).  Part of the hesitation was that they came in a set of 6 rather than individual sporks and really...I've only got one gullet to shove food down, how many sporks do I need? 

But, there they were!   I love them.  Use them.  I passed 2 on to colleagues and one of those dudes is threatening to ditch his set of silverware and just get enough of these for his family to eat with. 

I didn't mean to put the word out, but rather was whining into the void.   But it worked and is much appreciated.

Having a nice spork makes me eat more meals in my office or at a picnic table in a park when I'm on a road trip.  It also cuts WAY down on the use of plastic utensils which I also much appreciate.

Here it is in action...