Friday, December 4, 2009

3 am and no customer service

So here I sit at the Oklahoma City Airport waiting for the United Airlines rep to show for work so I can try and change to a earlier flight, no such luck. The kiosk's don't start to operate until 4:30.

Why am I in the OKC airport? well I graduated from my Army boot camp school on Wednesday and after a litany of comedic errors I am now just leaving on Friday morning, EARLY! and no one is around to change my flight and lesson my agony of no sleep for the last 24 hrs. Again I have to say that 208 older men and women that are prior service made it through the "class" and are now officially American Soldiers. Let me tell you the next time I have a mid-life crisis I think I'll just go and buy the red sports car and just dye my hair.
I am 44 with 17 years of Naval service and I thought "hey! why not do the extra 3 years in the reserves and get some retirement out of the deal." I will tell you all some thing, I am not 20 anymore and those 4 in the morning 3 mile runs blow donkey dick when your at the back of formation sucking wind trying to keep up with the young bucks and a drill Sargent is gnawing at your ass to catch up. I did not have a good time and I wouldn't do it again. I did learn a few things, but mostly it is a young mans game I am playing in and I should stick to remodeling my house. The first two pics are a before and nearly after shots. I shed 20 + pounds and moved allot of fat around my abdomen.

A shot of me just waiting around, we did allot of that. Not really being sad, just bored.

This was actually one of the more fun days, we were waiting to patrol a "town" looking for a downed pilot. (this is all training not real life, the Army does employ Iraqi expats to role play for us) and gather intel. What happened and really surprised the Drill Sargent's and instructors was the planning we put into our operation and totally turned what had been a miserable experience for the previous 3 platoons, and a mission accomplish for us. Here is the scenario:
Picture a small town with buildings etc. We were suppose to patrol and gather intel to look for a downed pilot, ala Behind Enemy Lines the movie scenario. Previously the other platoons just wandered en mase down the road pissed the locals off and got into a fire fight, most got killed in a cross fire and that was the end of the scenario for them.
Not 4th platoon, we split up send one squad around to the right the other around the left and a small and heavily armed fire team up the middle to do the meet and great the locals. The instructors said we did a classic Shaka Zulu maneuver with sucking the bad guys into the middle and enveloping them from the sides and behind, a set water buffalo horns as minds eye picture. We got the pilot and only "lost" a few men. Mission accomplished! That was one of the fun days, after that we did a 5 mile march back to the barracks with 50 lbs on our backs. Fun!
The below pictures are of everyone marching back to the barracks, really what a sight! 208 men and women stretched over 2 kilometers "rucking" down the road. Pretty awesome sight.
Some of the gear we had to wear all the time. About 50 lbs worth. Inside the "flak vest" or IBA are two SAPI plates, ceramic plates that protect your chest and back. Very inflexible pieces of gear, and they create a person to sit differently, lay prone differently, shoot your weapon differently, and use the latrine differently. Those bad boys will stop a 7.62 round from tearing your body up if you were ever shot, but a major pain to wear until someone does take a crack at shooting you. Glad we have them, but suck to wear daily. Add your canteens, ammo, helmet (ACH), M16-A2 and you can have a real weight loss party hauling that shit around! Who needs Jazzercise? What I found most helpfull in the attitude area was doing pushups with all that gear on! I was able to do more pushups by the end of the course, but it didn't help with my attitude!
That is what helped with the weight loss, that and really crappy food. I am not kidding, I have eaten in many 3rd world countries and the food was better than they gave us sometimes. My favorite? oh well that has to be the "we ran out of food for you guys and here is baked beans and hamburger meat mixed in for texture shit dinner"
bon appetite!!!
What you do when you drink alot of water and stand around all day? Hang out at Big Bobs porta potties and? wait to use a stinky toilet!

Waiting to be searched for brass and ammo. Every time you go to the range the Army wants to make sure you don't bring ammo and spent brass casings back to the barracks, so you have to be searched!

Liberty Village waiting to be cleared of insurgents. We got our buts kicked on that exercise.

The big guns! fun to shoot! but really suck to clean, and I mean suck! This bad boy will throw more lead down range than any nail gun you can buy at Home Depot!

Don't get me wrong there were and are some very motivated people willing to serve their country at a moments notice and are very good Soldiers. Out of the 208 men and women in my class about 1 % were held back for various reasons. Mostly medical. Everyone else finished what needed to be done and moved onto more training or back to our civilian jobs until needed. The oldest was 53 and the youngest was 20. SO you can see there was quite a cross section of expirence. Most guys had already been to Iraq or Afghanistan at least once in thier lives and want to do more by serving more. All of us are prior service (Army, Navy, Air Force) and wanted to go active duty Army, the other half of us are Reserves and National Guard. This course is a mini boot camp the Army has for all returning prior service personel that want to be in the Army, Army Reserves or Guard. A boot camp with cell phones is what I call it. We had a bit more free time than the young kids in regular boot camp and got to use our phones more, but not by much.
I remember standing there watching these young guys march by and thinking they are so young, anyone could be my kid. The world by the balls and nothing that they didn't know or anyone could tell them! Come on you remember how it was! not an once of fatality, we are going to live forever! Back to me standing there; my knees hurt, my back hurts, I have a headache, and the food sucks here! Hey anyone have Icy/Hot that I can use? Motrin? how about an aspirin that has been in your pocket for a couple of days? no? A tear forms in my eye, I wanna go home and cuss at the kitchen ceiling instead of getting up a 4 am! I want my mommy!
Sucks to be old!!
Im proud to serve and will continue to do so if called. I am also proud to be an American Soldier and have the oppourtunity to continue to do my best and defend our country.
Thanks to everyone that has supported me the past 6 weeks and I am glad to be home!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

What is OK about OK?

I just looked and relized that I have not written in a month! My excuse? well the month of October I really didn't do to much around the house at all. My excuse now? I am for all intensive purposes in lock down. I had a mid life crisis and went and did a really foolish thing and joined the Army Reserves. Now I am sitting in "boot camp" for middle aged men and a few women. We have all served in another branch of the military and decided to join the Army for various personal reasons. Most people are here just because of the economy. Others, who knows, only them? So I am in week 2 of this fun little summer vacation located in Ft. Sill OK. And so far there is nothing OK about this place. Out of 208 soldiers I am the third oldest at 44, out here humping on road marches, push-ups, sit-ups, and anything else that the drill Sargent's think up to do for there own pleasure and sick sense of humor. I swear 90% of them are suffering from PTSD as most of them are multiple combat tour veteran's of Iraq and Afghanistan. What the Army does is take prior service and cram them into a 4 week course that "normal" boot camp kids get 8 weeks to complete. This last week has been the hardest physically, all 4 platoons of our Battery are physically burnt out with all the physical work we have done. Compounded with the daily grind, we really only get on average about 5 hours of sleep. So needless to say I am burnt out. I would give any day to work on the kitchen in the summer heat again. But that is my twist on my predicament. And I made my own bed.
But for all the tax payers out there, I want to let you know that your money is being spent on some very highly motivated, skilled, and professional soldiers. We have the best fighting force in the world and we should all be proud of the money and personel that we spend it on. These people are true warriors. Gotta go, times running out for my pass and I have to get back to the barracks

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Too much, too little

Here are some nice pottery that Maezie put together for the front porch. Some spiky stuff and some cabbage looking stuff. All in all the stuff looks pretty good. She even spray painted the pots. I don't want to take away from the hard work by saying stuff, she did a great job and it has been something that I thought about doing for some time. But when you have $50 to spend on building materials, or plants? Well enough said.

I have written about this a long time ago, but here I go again. There is a closet in the kitchen that was used as storage (duh) but was just kind of strange being there. I have postulated that it was originally built as an access to build stairs up to the second floor, if the home owner (a) could afford to have it constructed when the house was commissioned or (b) when the home owners family grew he could add the stairs at a later time. My neighbor told me when she moved into her place 40+ years ago she had the same setup with the exception that she actually had stairs already in place but they ended topside in the unfinished attic. Over the years she and her husband finished it off and made a large bedroom. Simple and nothing extravagant.
Having said all that, We took the time this weekend and set about "finishing" the closet and transitioning it into a full fledged butlers pantry. Don't get me wrong, the room is a closet. 4 ft deep and 3 ft wide, so there is nothing at all fancy or spacious about the tiny room. It will consist of two large bins to hold Sugars food, a shelf above that, then a microwave and coffee pot, then more shelves above that.
You also have to keep in mind that as picture two below shows (looking up), this is the only way to get into the attic. A nice and tight little hole eh?

The box like shelf below is really the only way I could hide the sloping wall beneath and still square the room out. Why does the bottom 2 1/2 ft slope in? Well on the backside of this wall there is the stairs that run down into the basement. On top is where the doggie bins will sit.
Originally, many moons ago, I had made a false panel on the front of the "box" that one could push in and the panel would pop out. why? I dunno, I thought instead of having a dead space underneath, although sloping I could store "stuff" in there. Maybe some liquefied potato's? (inside joke)

Me doing something and looking handy with my tape measure hanging on my pocket.
So having tried to kill myself the last two days to get this room going I am paying the price of ambition tonight. My body is killing me! I feel like I went 5 rounds with Mike Tyson (in his prime). Notice I didn't say 12 rounds? I would be dead, and Mike probably still could whoop some ass even with that crazy tattoo on his face.
Only 6 more weeks and I am leaving for 5 weeks. To little time, to much to do.

I did splurge and bought a HP mini netbook this past Friday. I am still on the fence as to if I really needed this thing or not. I mean, I could have bought a neat power tool or something for the same money. I still have a need for a large planer or sander and then there are those bills.......... But having said all that, it isn't to bad. See my laptop of 5 years is dieing slowly, the hinges on the lid are broke clean through and it is just slow as hell. You can't even watch midget porn on the thing without it chopping the video and heating up so badly one would thing it was going to spontaneous combust. I also thought while I was away on Army training this winter it would be a hell of alot easier to carry a netbook around that a 12 lbs laptop.
I don't know, we will see if I even have time to use it while I am away. don't let the pics fool you, it is tiny! the screen is 10" diag and wieghs about 3 lbs? about the size of a notebook or a day planner that people use to carry around. I was going to do the Verizon wireless deal that they have but after I got looking at the numbers of a 2 yr contract? you really need to have a use for that type of service bad. Other than that? You are going to spend about $1200 for a $300 netbook in the long run. They have a 24 hour plan that will give you access for $15 a day as needed.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Still Slow

Have not done anything again this week. Did go camping this weekend and had a blast. The weather was fantastic! Had a great time with some great friends, great food, and a great amount of drinking. So the house projects stood idle this weekend.
I am running out of weekends pretty fast with the return to military training coming again at the end of October. I need to get some things sealed up for the winter before I go and then maybe when the weather gets colder I can decend back into the basement and get the striping and sanding going again on the huge pile of trim I have laying down there.

Monday, September 7, 2009

I got nothing

Just another pic of the sunflowers. That's about it.
I did finish putting the drawer pulls on yesterday, and did the final bit to get the stove fan installed, mowed the lawn and slept allot.
In between Z's I did manage to get the neighbors windows and screens painted and reinstalled this morning.
Like I said that's about it for any home improvement this weekend.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

You might be a redneck if.......or the sunflowers and the caulk job

Here are a few pics of the sunflowers on the south side of the garage. I don't think they are going to make it before the first frost comes though. We have had some pretty crappy weather here the last few months. It has been 5 to 10 degrees below normal most of the summer. These bad boys are getting ripped out of their blooming cycle and I wont see any seeds from them.

My dusty ass up on a ladder painting the neighbors windows.

Just a shot of the roofers and the new roof.

Ok, this has to be one of the worst caulk jobs in that last 10 years of human history. So this falls under you might be a read neck if... your bathroom tub has one helluva professional seal job like this.

Here is my excuse; the old stuff had like a L channel that ran around the parameter of the tub, it was leaking and I could never get the black mold scrubbed off. So I picked up some caulk, (notice it is like brilliant white in color?) I really didn't think about the color at the time. I was just interested in the sealing capabilities of the product. Scored on the sealabilty! blew it on the color matching.

Then I get in there and start working the caulk trying to spread it out and make it look "purdy" Jezz, what a mess! this stuff was drying as quick as I could squezze the shit out of the tube. Honest I wasn't drinking! but the only thing missing from the photo to make it purely a redneck job, was a pile of emtpy beer cans and an old cooler in the corner.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I'm a slacker

Sorry I just have not kept up with the blog as much as I should. This is not an excuse but just been doing other things and not to much of it has been house related.
Anyway the roof is done, looks good to. I just hope I get more than 10 years out of the damn thing.

So does anyone remember Delta Force with Chuck Norris? Is there anything that guy can't do?
Here is the premise, some Arabs are high jacking an airliner out of Greece. An Arab looking guy with long hair and a beard shows up late for the flight and causes a ruckus (go figure?) two other Arab's that made it aboard are wearing nice suits, white ties, white belts, white shoes, red shirts, and big aviator mirrored sunglasses. Now this was way before profiling was not PC, you think someone would have caught on to this earlier in the movie. There is an airplane full of Jews and these guys are dressed in bad suits, a setup for a really bad movie right?

We have George Kennedy (as a priest) and Shelly Winters (with a chicken leg in her mouth), Lee Marvin and of course Chuck!

So one of the first scenes is the terrorist pulls a pin from a hand grenade with his mouth, he hollers to have the cockpit door opened, the door is thrown open and it hits the guy in the face and knocks the pin out of his mouth! (I can't make this shit up!)
Well I am not going to ruin the rest of the movie for you, but you can just imagine the high kicks and karate chops, Chuck dodging bullets etc.

Back to the house.
I installed the water softener last night, and with every damn plumbing project I always make multiple runs to the home improvement store. First to get the basic parts, then after I take the water filter off I noticed that the O ring some how got distorted and I had to run back and find some replacements. I had water flying everywhere until I figured that little fiasco out.
It has taken a week but I can tell you that it has made a difference in washing clothes, dishes, and clean up around the sinks and tub. The build up is gone or going.
Also, Beth calls me up and she tells me she found another deal at Home Depot, a $1000 GE dishwasher marked down to $265. The old Maytag was still doing its thing but was so full of lime from the hard water it just wasn't really getting the dishes clean. So replaced the dishwasher.

Did some work on the neighbors house yesterday and today. She needed some repainting around some windows. Well as with any of my projects it turned out to be longer than I thought. I just cant do a half-assed job and walk away. Got her windows scraped and primed though. The "it took longer than I thought" is because the windows are on the second story and there is no way to get to them from a ladder easily or from the roof. So I kind of hung out the windows and did what I could and the rest from the ladder, doing a reach thing.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Roof layover

The roofing materials showed up this morning. I wasn't home but the driver did give me a call to let me know he was there. I gave a shout to the roofing guys to let them know everything was waiting in the driveway and they were there banging away when I came home from lunch. The one thing I forgot was the ridge cap. I need to go hunt some down tomorrow and get it over to the house.
From what I saw in the light the roof is looking good. I went with an architectural shingle vice the 3 tab type that are currently on there. The rain started on the way home after work and the roofers were wrapping things up by the time I got home. By the time I finished making diner and cleaning up a bit it was dark and I really couldn't see anything in the waining light and cloud cover.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Been awhile

Been a couple weeks since I posted.
I think last Saturday I started to install the crown around the tops of the kitchen cabinets, I only got two uppers finished. It takes me a long time to visualize the angles out in my head before I make any cuts. I guess I am overly cautious and want to make sure I don't mess up and waste the wood I am cutting. I bought two new saw blades for the chop saw, the hickory is so hard to cut and I could see that only after about 5 cuts the blade was having a hard time getting through the wood. I think there are about a dozen more cuts to do then I should have the crown finished.

Today, I caulked and painted the six windows on the backside of the house. Two are the original and the other four were put in about eight years ago. The original windows I caulked shut. There was quite a bit of air coming through and around the frames this past winter. I just figured until I can get them replaced, and I don't open them, I thought I might as well just seal them as best as I can.
The other four, are about 8 years old but the wood surrounding them is still the original wood, and in bad shape along with the caulk it was separating pretty good causing a few good sized gaps between the window and the wood frame. I used Behr exterior paint. A bit more expensive but I think it is worth the money.
I have to say that it went on really well and soaked in pretty good. Guess that is an indication of the old paint being just beat to death by the west sun and weather. I also used colored caulk (brown) to help blend in better. The rest of the house had all the windows replaced about six years ago and the company that did them wrapped all the exterior wood in aluminium. So those don't need any repainting. They still need some touch up with caulk to fill in the gaps that are drying out. I want to get as much done on the exterior before I have to leave for training this fall and get the house sealed. Don't need any worries about heating the outside again this winter.

About three weeks ago I had the roof leak in the valley above the front door. I called a guy to come look and see if he could patch things up to get me by for a while longer. Well it rained again two weekends ago and I still had leaking, this time in another room. The front room has a basketball sized bulge in the ceiling and now the front porch hallway has some bulging going on now. I planned on replacing the front room ceiling but did not want to do the hallway. Fucking sucks. Now I am looking at a roof replacement.
The insurance company was of no help and only offered to patch the roof and patch the ceiling. Just what I need, another freakin patch job by some hack that only State Farm approves of. Maybe it is my agent but they have fallen into the "they suck" basket as far as I am concerned. I will be parting ways with them soon.
The last week I have had three guys come look at the roof and give me quotes. The fourth never showed up. One isn't bad on price, the second wants to do a total tear off and replacement, and the third I had to do some price bickering to get him to come down a bit. It is still going to cost over $6000 and that is just a layover and not a tear off. The high side bid was over $10000, way out of my range.
Wednesday I stumbled into Home Depot and caught a sale on 30 year shingles, but the sale ended that night. I ran across the street to Menards and their cheapest shingle was still more expensive per bundle than the ones HD had. So I plunked down $2300 that night, and another $400 or so for the rest of the stuff, nails, starter strip, flashing, etc. Really sucks! I was hoping to get another 10 years out of the roof.
When the last roof guy was topside, he said he saw where who ever last put the roof on that they had cut other shingles on top of what was already laid down and sliced right through the flashing and shingles creating a pretty good sized gap for water to seap in. This last rain also showed another leak around the chimney where the flashing has failed prematurely from improper installation.
The neighbor did warn me that some gin heads and druggies did the last roof install. They also tore out all the copper flashing for good measure in case a normal person would want the rain to stay outside vice coming through. The guys are suppose to start Monday on the layover, so I am hoping that everything gets sealed up before the next rain, which is suppose to be Monday!
To take some frustration out over this past weeks roof "event" I moved 10 wheelbarrows of white marble rock across the street to my neighbors house. I had a ton of it around the house from the PO and this was the last of it and by far the biggest area to be removed. A few months ago I saw him and his wife outside pulling all their rock up, cleaning it, putting down a weed barrier and replacing what they had. I watched this for a weekend and thought I would go ask if they were going to buy more to add to their "pile". George and Brenda are nice people, I offered my white marble up and would even haul it over if they would take it. Deal struck! So all in all they got about 15 loads from me.
It saves me from having to pay someone to haul it away and they can finish their landscaping. How cool is that?! Now I need to work a deal out with someone to pull the lilac stumps out. Any takers?
Wish I took a picture of their front sidewalk, 10 loads of rock sitting in front of the house. That's where they wanted it!
Sunday? I need to tear a wall out in the basement and get it into the pile in the garage. I found a guy to haul all my debris away this coming week and he said to get all I could before he comes again.

Monday, August 3, 2009

More Pics

I wanted to share a few more pics of our trip to Michigan, the first is the Meyer May house again. This is a view of one of the children's bedroom.

This is a view of the trim that went all around the ceiling on the lower half of the house. The joinery still blows me away along with the layers of wood built up.

Here is a fence that we found in Sagatuck MI. I would like to surround my yard with something like this someday.

This picture is the most hilarious image that Sugar has given me. I couldn't tell if she was pissed for being left behind or happy. You have to admit it is funny. Her tail was wagging the whole time.

And the last is her royal heiness soaking in the beautiful afternoon.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Grand Rapids trip

Took a long weekend and went to Grand Rapids MI. Beth and I went to the Meyer/May House that was designed and built by Frank Lloyd Wright. Wow! is the only real adjective I can come up with. The house was built and commissioned in 1910 and by all modern standards, you would never know this house was a 100 years old next year. It is truly amazing what Wright was able to envision 100 years ago.
For me, it was a very moving experience and absolutely awe struck by the detail and how modern and forward thinking that Wright was for his time. Standing in the house I had the feeling that this house was built only a few years ago.
The biggest thing that I still cannot believe is how this guy envisioned, designed, and communicated his ideas without Auto Cad, virtual walk through or a PC.
There is a 4 part video that you can watch and is very informative on the restoration that was preformed back in 1982. Although I only put a few pictures online (there are just to many to upload) Beth took a whole bunch of pictures and all turned out amazing. All the images are high res. and if you can feel free to download.
What is truly astounding is the detail throughout the whole house. Beth took some pretty close shots of the trim work etc. Very, very, very high quality work.
If you are ever able to visit Grand Rapids or the Meyer/May house you cannot beat the price of admission, FREE! and worth the every penny.
Hope you enjoy the images!