Saturday, December 13, 2014

The End?

I've given three years of my life and all my savings to dig a hole in the ground, in the wrong place, and now I think I'm going to fill it in and sell it at a loss to someone with the capital to invest and make a profit out of it.  I'm feeling pretty depressed.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Being Married...

Well.  I'm married.  See?

It's been a few months.  I like her.  I think I'll keep her.

After the wedding we lived in Elizabeth's old apartment, which wasn't that nice a place, but it was a lot bigger than mine, and she kind of hated my landlord for his somewhat less than benign neglect of the place.  We weren't in her place for too long though.

We were very eager to stay in the ward where we met, and looked for a new place within our budget that would keep us there.  The pickings were very slim, and for the most part they were really awful places.  The Bishop had told us that if we could stay within the a block or two from the boundaries he'd be ok with us staying.

So we were very excited when we found our place down in the canyon before Memory Grove Park.  It's an old hodgepodge of buildings and houses that are managed by the same company, and the neighborhood was amazingly beautiful.  We couldn't believe our luck.

We actually went to look at another apartment in the complex, which was very beautiful, with lots of tile work and a sky light over the kitchen.  The only problem was that it was roughly the size of a shoe box.  We considered it for a night, but decided that it was just too small.  But when I called the manager to tell him that we couldn't do it he said that a bigger unit in the main fourplex had opened up that day.  We went and looked at it with him and he had our deposit that afternoon.

We like our place, but it has the usual old apartment complaints.  Sometimes cantankerous plumbing.  A bathroom so small that had we both tried to stand in it at the same time before the wedding we might not have made it to the temple.  There aren't nearly enough electrical outlets, and some of them don't work.

But it's got some really neat casement windows, a cool little home office stuffed into the space under the stairs up to the neighbor's above us.  There's some neat tiling in the kitchen and the bathroom.  And it's really beautiful outside, with a big flowering tree.  This was a shot from out front door this spring.

We had one sad surprise though, moving into the new place.  When we went to the Bishop and confessed that we had rented an apartment outside the boundaries he hemmed and hawed a little and then said we'd have to go to the Canyon Rd ward.  So, despite all our efforts we still got the boot.  Funnily enough, as we left his office we both realized we were OK with it.  So it goes.

Now Elizabeth is going to talk.

Hello, y'all - Elizabeth here. Mah-wage. Man, what a fascinating, complex, challenging, exciting, surprising, rewarding transition! It seems kind of similar to the immense transition of entering the mission field, in that nothing can completely prepare you, really, since the ride is different for everyone; but obedience to the gospel, love and kindness for your companion, and a willingness to follow the Spirit and adjust plans as necessary have been kept us centered and focused on growing together - what a relief.

I'm not sure what to say, really - it feels weird popping in on someone else's blog (not that I have my own...perhaps that should change...). Well, one thing I do want to say is Thank You to all of the Jones family, for your help in making our Logan reception happen. I was keeping my cool, but it was all fairly overwhelming, especially since my groom needed last minute hemming on his pants so I was fielding hugs and hellos from happy friends and family I had never met. I hope everybody had a good time, at the Bluebird and in Salt Lake City. Thanks for being kind to my brother, Louis, and my sister, Paula. I was sad that my two oldest sisters weren't able to make it.

Mike did meet all of Louis's family, my oldest sister, Jonna, and her family, and my foster brother, Jon, and his whole family when we visited Georgia in May. That was a lot of fun, plus we went to Savannah, GA for 2 days and got sunburns at played in the ocean at Tybee Island, and took our time walking around the city.

 I look forward to visiting the South together again sometime! I asked Mike for suggestions on what else I should talk about and he is only providing silly and/or dumb suggestions, so I'll just call this good.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Snow Falling on Motorcycles and Lost, Broken Down Trucks...

Imagine here a picture of my bike under four inches of snow.  I'd go outside and shoot that picture, but it is too cold and depressing.  Last night when I was taking Elizabeth home from our singles group fhe, where they kindly made paper flowers for our wedding, it began to snow.  A lot.  Riding a bike in the rain is bad, because raindrops hitting your eyeballs at 35mph feels a lot like hypodermic needles hitting your eyeballs at 35mph.  Snowflakes hitting your eyeballs at 35mph are just kind of like getting hit in the eyes with feathers, but really really cold ones.  And they have the added affect of terrifying you because you can't see through them and they are turning the ground into an uncertain neverland.  It's... no fun.  Well, not unless perhaps you are a hockey player, and the idea of being cold and injured is a particular treat.

I woke up this morning to take Elizabeth to work and found said four inches of snow covering the only means of transportation (aside from shoes) between us.  Experimentally I brushed it off, started it up, and rode around the block.  It was frightening.  I went around the corners at about two miles an hour with both feet down, (tippy toes down anyway, as my bike's seat is taller than my bum).  While the bike didn't slide sideways from underneath me on any of those four icy corners, there was absolutely no guarantee that they would not on any of the other twenty-five or so we'd traverse if I did take Elizabeth to work.

She took the Trax.  And I feel blue.

I feel blue for several reasons.  I usually make Elizabeth breakfast and drive her to work, but couldn't today.  I'm realizing I'm several days back on my meds.  I realized yesterday that there are only 19 days to our wedding (that's not a sad thing, but it blows my mind a little and makes me reflective).  It's snowing, and I don't have a foundation in the ground out in Magna.  And not least, my truck may be well and truly dead.  It is broken down on the side of the road, about seven blocks from my place.  It came to be there when Elizabeth and I were going to Laura and Tim's for dinner on Sunday night.  Tim had a crazy urge for German food.  Go figure.  But like all Tim food, it was excellently executed, and fantastically tasty.

The truck had overheated the last time we drove it, a week before, and had died up across the street from the Capitol building.  We'd let it cool down and it had limped home to my garage.  But it was 37 degrees out, and falling, when we left for Laura's place Sunday night, and the idea of getting on the bike was just too much.  So I filled the coolant reservoir in the truck and hoped it wouldn't all leak out before we could get to Laura's and back.  But at the corner of 2nd and I st. it seems to have died an ignominious death.  What can be done?

Laura came and picked us up as we walked down 7th East, and took us home after dinner.  She was very sweet.

And I bought a tow cable yesterday morning at Harbor Freigh, after dropping Elizabeth off at work.  But I was unable to lay hands on someone to do the towing.  And so it sits.  Unless of course it's been towed by the city.  If so, I have half a mind to let it go.  Except that it's likely worth a few hundred in scrap metal.

But any way you look at it.  The purchase of that truck was... optimistic.  I'm about $1500 into it, and have only driven it about as many miles.  The 17 year old kid who I bought it from was about 25 facts short of honest with me about it's condition, and most of the miles I have gotten out of it have been driving up to Cache Valley and all around town in pursuit of repairs for the truck itself.  The guy who stole it for a couple of weeks right after I bought it might have gotten more use out of it than I have.  Frankly, I've put too much into it.  And it's paid me back with little more than derision.  

I do not love this truck.

But I don't love the prospect of buying a new used car any better.  I thought to myself a little while ago that I didn't want to buy another car unless I was buying something exciting enough that I'd want to drive it.  That doesn't really mean a sports car.  I just wanted something that didn't give me that slight feeling of malaise every time I turned the key.  Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear called my last car, an '01 Hyundai Accent, a "misery box".  He has generally less realistic standards than I do, and I was grateful for the car, and especially for my parent's grace and forbearance in letting me have it although they actually owned it.  But there was something dreary in it.  Perhaps that thing was just me.  I don't know.  

And the field of used cars I've so far perused hasn't been that encouraging.  In fact the top contenders have consistently been more Hyundai Accents, or their big brother, the Elantra.  They're just too damn sensible a choice.  So it might be back to the misery box for me, where I'll try to make believe it is more like "cheap and cheerful" than trudging around in a tar pit.  Groan.

In the mean time though, I must occupy myself with another uneviable task.  Trying to rescue files off the hard drive on my desktop.  It's crashed and burned too.  Much like the truck.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Fricken Finally...

Sometime last week, (or late in the week before (things are a bit of a blur these days (my tummy hurts
because I ate sugary stuff for breakfast (man, that was a non-sequitur)))) I finished the rough-in piping for my plumbing.  With great trepidation I called the building department at the county and requested an inspection.  I saw online that I was on the schedule for inspections and was expecting a call from the inspector to tell me when to meet him at the lot.  On the appointed day the call kept failing to come.  I became agitated waiting for it.  It made me quite uncomfortable.

I continued to check the online schedule every half hour or so, and around two in the afternoon I saw that my building permit number had disappeared from the list.  I called a secretary in the building department and asked what was going on.  She asked for my permit number and did a search on it then said that my number was off the list because the inspector had been there and gone.  My piping had passed.

So, some days ago I went back and buried them, and laid the gravel over the portions of the lot that were undone.  Looking at the stuff that I was getting off the pile of gravel I had delivered earlier, in the summer, I almost think they delivered road fill rather than straight gravel.  It seemed to be between half and three fifths fines once I got down into the middle of it.  I was a little miffed by that.  I hope it will perform well the desired function: draining moisture away from the concrete.

In any case, I was overjoyed to cut the tops off the piping I used as the 10ft head for the pressure test.

Now all I have to do it level the gravel, for which I bought a laser level, which will I hope be more accurate than the measuring poles I made, between which I stretched a cord with a line level on it.  It just didn't seem to be getting the job done well.  I could see a visible slump in places.

Anyway, once the gravel is level I can lay the vapor barrier, finish the rebar, buy and place the rigid insulation, shore it up, then hire a crew to lay the foundation.

And can you believe it has only taken me two years of work to get to this point?

Oh well.  I've been distracted lately.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Hurricane Elizabeth...

Meet Elizabeth.  I thank God I did.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Starter, a Cement Mixer, and a Pile of Pipes...

Much of the last three weeks have been spent in working on the rough-in piping for the plumbing of the house.  I'd never put piping together, with the exception of fixing a bit of copper piping with dad at the cabin at Bear Lake.  Is there irony in the fact that the cabin was built by a plumber, but has had plumbing problems as long as we've owned it?

Anyway, that was years ago, and I was working with ABS rather than copper.  Copper is absurdly expensive these days.  There was a huge landslide at the Bingham Copper Mine (which for many years was the largest in the world), just a couple miles from Magna.  It has largely shut production at the mine down, resulting in a spike in already crazy high commodity prices for copper.  It's meant that scrappers are after it with a vengeance.  It was already bad, but now it's worse.  My last year at East Hollywood, some meth heads had broken into the pump house and torn all the copper coils and piping out of the air conditioning.  They probably got about sixty dollars for it at the scrappers, (that's just a guess), but cost ten thousand dollars of damage.  It's been like that a lot in Salt Lake.

But that's beside the point.  I don't know that they've ever used copper for waste piping.  And this was the waste piping.  I spent $150 at Lowe's on pipe and fitting, and proceeded to waste about $30 worth of the material making mistakes as I figured out how to do it.  But I think I got it.

Then, Monday, a week ago, I went out to the truck to take all the finished clusters of fittings out to the lot, and when I turned the ignition it turned over once then nothing.  I'd turn it and wouldn't even hear the clicking you get when the battery is too low to crank.  All I'd hear was a kind of popping slap.  I had no idea what it was.  But I thought I'd better start with the battery.

The battery cable terminal ends were so corroded that I spent about an hour and a half trying to get them off of the battery terminals.  It was a mess.

I took it down to Autozone on the back of the bike, after exploring the costs of a replacement at several different locations.  It looked like it was going to be about a hundred dollars.

But when the kid at Autozone tested the battery he said it was low, but good.  It wasn't my problem.  He suggested I pull the starter and bring it in for testing.  I was feeling quite low.

And I sat around feeling sorry for myself for a while, then decided I had to move on.  So, despite the fact that it was 6:30 in the evening, I started strapping the sections of piping to the bike and took it out to Magna.  It was funny to me, because despite the fact that the load was secured, people were very afraid to follow me on the freeway.  They stayed way back, then would move into the other lane and speed past me as fast as they could.

I started digging the trenches for the rough-ins.  One of the things that I screwed up was that I put the fitting for the line in from all of the stuff in front of the toilets (which are the last thing in the line) under the fittings from the toilets in the stack.  The result was that I had to dig really deep all the way along the line to get it in.  It took a few days.

But I wasn't working on it constantly.  I worked also on putting together a cement mixer.  I don't know yet whether it will work.  I got the idea for it from a mixer I saw in an old issue of Mother Earth News.  It was made from black iron pipe and an old washing machine drum.  It rotated on a bushing set in the center post of the drum.  But I figured you could get the same effect on exterior rollers without the complication of building a center post.  At first my design had it on castors, but when I was buying them at Harbor Freight I saw the roller bearings.  They were less expensive and they simplified the design.

It was another couple of exciting rides on the freeway with all the stuff for the mixer.  I'd built about half the frame at home, so it was substantially sized when it went out to Magna.  Actually it went down to Sandy first, because I needed some angle irons to put inside the drum as fins to carry the concrete mix up as it rolled, so it would fall on itself and actually mix.  I found the metal shop where they were being sold on KSL.  They were a small fraction of what I'd have to pay at Lowe's, so it was worth the trip.  Unfortunately when I got to the place they were out of the shop for the day.  I was miffed about that, but I was only a few blocks from Mark LaRocco's office, so I went over there and went to lunch with him.  So it wasn't a wasted trip.

I also found the drum for sale on KSL.  It turned out it was being sold by a port-a-potty business that was just about a mile up the 21st south freeway from my lot.  The drums used to hold the detergent they use to flush out the port-a-potties.  The used drum cost only a tenth what I'd have to spend on a new one.  I still need to go back and get the angle irons, and cut the top out of the drum to put them in.  Then I think it will be ready to test.

Anyway, this last saturday I decided I'd try to pull the starter out of the truck and take it to be tested.  It was actually pretty simple job, but terribly difficult to do.  It involved removing only three bolts.  The problem was that I had to do it from underneath the truck, where if it isn't jacked up, there isn't really enough room to do much.  Laying on my back under there I couldn't pass my arms between my body and the bottom of the truck, so all I could do was wiggle my arms up above my head then maneuver my hands by angling my wrists.  And the ratchet handle was too long to move it much between the exhaust and the frame, which was the only place you could get to the bolts.  You could only get one click on the ratchet, while angling your wrists in a tremendously painful manner.  So it took a long time to get the two bolts out that held the starter motor in.

The third bolt was the one that held the power wire onto the terminal.  You could only access this one after pulling the starter out.  The problem with this is that the cable wasn't long enough to let the starter rest on the ground while you took the bolt out, so you had to hold the starter with one hand while you tried to work the bolt with the other.  Of course this was very difficult already because I had to do it with my wrists cramped at a ridiculous angle.  But what really made it problematic is that the starter weighs about thirty pounds.  That eventually made it more or less impossible for me.  I just couldn't hold it up with one hand in that awkward position and make any headway with the other hand on that stubborn bolt.  Eventually I was able to solve the problem by getting a wood block that was sitting around from another project and laying the point of the starter on it, and letting that take the weight.  In all it took about an hour and a half to pull the starter out.

When they tested it down at Autozone it failed.  So I bought a new one.  Well, a reconditioned one.  It cost $50.  Better than the $100 I'd have had to spend on a new battery.

It was similarly difficult to put the new starter in, and it took a similar amount of time to do so.  At the moment of truth, when I turned the ignition to test it I got nothing.  But I noticed that the dome light had turned on when I got into the truck, but had not when I got out.  I thought that perhaps the connections of the battery terminals and the cable terminal ends were failing to get a good connection.  So I tried working the connecting bolts tighter.  But they were too corroded.  I decided the only thing to do was to buy new ones and change them out.  I went and bought new ones, but it was dark by then and I was tired, so I left it for Monday morning.

A couple years before I had done the same job with Mike Forsberg on the Hyundai.  I'd been terrified to cut the cables.  Surely, I thought, this wasn't meant to be.  You couldn't hope to just cut the cables.  That wasn't how the manufacturer had made them.

I've become more confident.  I just cut them.

I affixed the new cable ends and put them on the battery, and when I turned the ignition...  Presto.  Started right up, and with less cranking that it ever had.  So that was good.

After that, I took the last long piece of pipe out to Magna on the bike and spent five hours digging out the last bit of the trenching.  I was quite sore last night when I got home.

Today I've got to go back to Sandy to the metal shop to get the angle irons.  Then I'll put them in the barrel, and dig out the trench for the water supply line.  I was forgetting about that one.  Sheesh.  It will be the same length as the one I spent five hours on last night.  I guess there's nothing for it, but I'm getting sick of coming home covered in mud made of sweat and the dust that flies when I dig.  I'd forgotten how long all this shovel work takes when you are doing it all by yourself.  Heavy machinery has to be one of the best creations man's come up with.  I guess you just have to find someone who knows what they're doing to operate it.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Failing the Footing and Working the Pipe...

A couple weeks ago at this time I was standing in a trench looking down at my failure.  The trench might as well have been my grave.  It was about as long.  Not quite as deep.

I don't usually work on Sunday, but I'd kind of mired my ox.  On the previous Friday I'd been digging away at the trenching for the footing of the shed.  I've wanted to get it at least up as soon as possible.

As time has gone on, and on, and on, and I continue to spend hours and hours trying to make the excavations what I need them to be, I realize more and more how badly the guy I hired to do the digging screwed up.  I talked to the guy across the street, who does remodeling as a job, and he said that if he were doing it he'd have been able to do it right in about four hours, rather than the six and a half that I paid the other guy for.  Then again, he lives in a motorhome behind his son-in-law's house, and he he was wearing a home made t-shirt with a picture of him at Burning Man in the 90's.

But of all the things that the guy I hired screwed up, he screwed up the shed footing worst.  I dug furiously for nine hours straight on that Friday, and thought I had it just about there.  Mark LaRocco was coming to help on Saturday morning, so I rented a cement mixer at Home Depot on the way out.  I wanted two people so that the pour would go quickly enough that the concrete wouldn't start to set up before it was done.

But there was this root from that damn tree I mostly cut down.  On Friday I'd hacked at it with a mattock for an hour and hadn't made a dent.  The result was that we had to cut a few inches off the end of the trench to go around it.  And it just went on and on, and it was lunch time before we were even ready to dump the gravel in the bottom.  Then after we did, we went to get lunch and the concrete mix.  But when we got there, the yard where I was going to buy it was closed.  Everyone had just decided it was too pretty a summer day, and they'd decided to knock off early.

So we went to Lowe's and got bagged mix, which was more expensive, but we couldn't think what else to do.  We had to take it in two loads, because I'm relatively sure if I'd taken it in one it would have snapped the trucks rear end.

When we got it all unloaded and dumped the gravel, and leveled it, it was coming on evening, and Mark had to go.  His wife was nine months pregnant, and she was having a rough day of it.  He'd even put off their plans to go look at mini-vans to stay as long as he had.

But since I had the mixer I planned to stay and work into the night.  I didn't think I had any other option.  It had to be back at 9:30 Sunday morning.  Night fell, however, and it became obvious I couldn't work on.  I couldn't see what I was doing.  I decided I'd have to come back at dawn and do the pour, get the mixer back on time, and make it for at least the last half of church.

You'd think after working like a dog on Friday and Saturday, having had only four hours of sleep Friday night, that I'd go comatose on Saturday night, and have to rely on the alarm to get me out of bed in the morning.  I was too anxious though, and though I lay in bed I just tossed and turned, never quite asleep.  I didn't make it under until about 3:00am.  Then when the alarm rang at 5:30, I was already up.  I got a bowl of cereal and drove out to Magna.

Fatigue was making me really, woefully stupid.  I couldn't figure out what on earth I was doing half the time, but I knew I needed to keep right on doing it.  Because I only had about three hours until that damn mixer had to be back.

I'd forgotten my phone at home, so I didn't know what time it was, and was relying on the bells at the Catholic church down the street to tell the time.  They start ringing at I think 7:00am.  Maybe 6:00.  And, since I hadn't heard them I thought I was doing pretty well.

Then as I was maundering around the trench, dumbly trying to use gravel to form embankments into which I could pour the concrete, I heard the first bell.  It chimed nine times, then played some Catholic hymn.  Appearantly they didn't do the bells until 9:00 on Sunday morning, I guess to avoid confusing people waiting to hear the call to 9:00 mass.

I wasn't ready to pour, and my deadline was somewhere between 9:00 and 9:30.  I didn't know exactly what time I'd clocked renting it out Saturday morning.  And I was at least fifteen minutes from Home Depot, plus the time it would take to load up the mixer in the truck by myself.

I immediately accepted that I had blown it and had the mixer for another day.

I went on working.  And at about noon, Tony, the guy next door, who had been a county engineer for a while came out and pointed out that I was going to make a terrible mess of things just pouring into my shoddy gravel ditches.  I had been beginning to realize that myself through the haze of fatigue by about that time.

So I went to Lowe's for some lumber and a saw blade.  I'd only brought a cutoff wheel for the rebar.

When I got back with the wood I realized that I'd bought the wrong size wood.  But by that point I didn't care.  I began cutting and trying to nail the frames together, but I only had my 3lbs sledge with me, not my framing hammer, so it was a messy job.  And since the excavation there was no really flat solid soil anywhere, so when I'd hit a nail with the sledge, most of the energy went to driving the board into the dust, rather than the nail into the board.  It was very slow going, and my arm got very tired.  I cut myself pretty badly when the ground shifted under the board once, causing the hammer to glance off and me to snag a knuckle on the nail I'd been driving.  Another time it shifted and I hit my thumb pretty good.  Two weeks later the nail is purple in places, but it hasn't come off yet.

Anyway, as evening was coming on I was finally down in the trench, trying to nail the last bit of the ladder framing together, but it just wouldn't fit.  It was that damn tree root again.  The framing added three inches to the necessary length of the trench, and I didn't have it.  So the root was getting in the way again.

At first I was going to throw the sledge and scream every curse I could think of.  But then I decided I wanted to cry.  Then, Tony's wife came out and offered me some tomatoes from her garden, just on the other side of the fence from the shed trench.  She was very sweet and I thanked her.

Night fell.  I wasn't ready.  And this time I did go home and hibernate, until the alarm clock woke me at 5:30.  Out of bed, I went back out to the lot, and worked until 8:30, when I had to admit I still wasn't ready to pour, and that if I was, I was extremely unlikely to be able to do so before I had to have the mixer back.  I wasn't up for another day of it.  So I got to loading up.

I drove in to the Home Depot parking lot and got the rental desk guy to help me unload it, and he looked at it to make sure I'd washed it up before returning.  I told him not to bother, that I hadn't even had the chance to use it.  There was the second day to pay for, and a small fee for keeping it over the anticipated schedule, and as the coup de grace, when I ran my card to pay for it, it was declined.  I had over-run.  I had to go to the bank and transfer funds, then come back to pay.  The rental guy looked so apologetic when he said he hoped I had a better day.

After taking care of bond issue at the building department, I went home and spent the next week lying on the couch, trying desperately to ignore the previous one had ever happened.

Then last week, I decided to tackle the plumbing rough in.  It took the whole week, but I've finished putting the pipe and fittings all together.  And I only ruined about $30 worth of material.  Not that bad, considering I'd never really done any plumbing to speak of before.  Anyway, it was good experience.

I'm going to be taking it out to Magna and putting it all together tomorrow.  Hopefully it will all be water tight.  It's got to pass a pressure test eventually.