Friday, February 29, 2008

If someone said they'd fix this - I'd vote for them.

I don't care who it is.



All I need people is a truck lane. Honestly!

While all you people are fighting about "the real issues" - like race, war, feminism, religion, how the earth is going to burn up. Or cool down. I don't care! I just want an f-ing truck lane. Is that too much to ask?

While I'm on the freeway - I just want to be able to see more than 30 feet in any direction. Please! And - this picture was taken on a good day.

More often than not - I'm wedged in between two trucks with a third on either side. Honestly - It's really claustrophobic.

I'm begging. Truck...lane.

Daffodil Hill.



No - I wasn't screwing off today. As nice and sunny as it looks outside. I was working hard - hard I tell you. But, this will only be around for about a week. So I had to make time in my day. Plus it made me remember how much I miss just being able to take pictures instead of having a house sized sucking sound coming from my contractors.

I'm guessing he's depressed about the economy.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

All I know about the Obama campaign - I learned from South Park.

Updated with new and improved video.


I can't think of anything except this South Park clip - every time I hear Obama talk about his campaign. Chaaaange. Now - you won't be able to either.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

How to scare your neighbors.

Updated with pinky weirdness.



Today, over at the crapshack - the outside of the house is being painted. We chose a mocha color. I finally just gave into the sea of beige trend. Everyone apparently likes beige.

Anyway.. I'm becoming increasingly nervous. Because the color they were putting on was clearly pretty pink to me. My friend had already called to report it looked "peechy" in color.

I thought they were all insane. The color was going to dry much more brown. I was sure of it.

Until about an hour ago. By then, all my people had convinced me the color was never going to be brown. The house was clearly pink. I'm starting to become anxious - because this is the first place I didn't do a million paint swatches to see if the color was going to look good.

So I begin to try and figure out how I'm going to make this color work. I just can't see it happening.

Finally I asked the painters. Is this pink or mocha?

It's then they said the most wonderful words in flipping history. "Primer".

Personally - I've never seen pink primer... but I'm super relieved. The neighbors at the crapshack are probably all having a heart attack though.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Things I find interesting about my readers.

I used to be pretty perplexed why people read my blog. For the most part I still am. But, there are a few things I've figured out about those few who managed to hang in with me.

1. A lot of my readers have sleep issues.

2. Pretty much hate people.

3. Love technology!

These are the things I don't get about my readers though.

1. You guys read books! What is up with that? Because, you read me too.. and I just don't get it. My sentences are all over the place. I have no linear structure. I toss periods out like it was confetti. Or - as Mr S. likes to say "your posts resemble a cross between the way William Shatner and Christopher Walken talk". He also says I have lots of syntax problems.

Honestly - I don't even know what a syntax is. But, you guys obviously knew that. Which is why I find it so interesting that so many avid readers hang out here from time to time. How can my writing style not drive you guys absolutely batchit crazy? You guys are professional readers. Lets not forget the liberal additions of apostrophes and or absenteeism of apostrophes.

A seven year old can write better than I do. Yet - all you literate people still read this blog. That is really interesting to me.

2. A lot of knitters and or sewers. I'm not sure how I managed that demo. But I also find it very interesting.

What's up bloggers?

I know it seems selfish - but it always annoys me out when a blogger I read just packs up and leaves without even a final post. Honestly - it makes me think they suck.

It isn't even any of my business - but, they have been sharing their lives this far. Don't regular readers deserve something? Thats right. I said deserve. For reading you - through your up times. Down times... and occasional downright boring post. We all have them.

Even if you just have that one regular reader - like I do. Just give your readers some ending to the book which was your blog. It's unsatisfying otherwise.

I can't understand how that happened.

Home Depot revenue falls 27%.

Listen - some of this is because of the slowing housing market. But, a lot of it is because customers are just tired of dealing with people who aren't trained correctly. Or simply don't care about customer service. Take this for example.

My ongoing saga with the tile I ordered almost a month ago. Here.

Today, I called the Expo Design center to try once again to track down my tile. You may remember last week I got a call saying they were going to have it delivered to my house on Friday.

When I called Expo, I immediately asked to talk to a manager. Who happened to be the same manager I talked to when I wigged out last time. David Chavez. Yes.. I'm putting his name!

He offered to track down the tile and call me back. This is what he tells me:

Him - Your tile is at the San Leandro warehouse ready to be picked up.

Me - I am not driving to that warehouse again. I was told this would be shipped to my house.

Him - Well, if you want it shipped to your house it is going to take a lot longer.

Me- What is a lot longer?

Him - about a week.

This is where I lost it. Honestly - I started yelling at the guy. Which I rarely do - but, I'm just at my limit with customer service right now

Me - A week! You can get anything shipped anywhere in the states in a week, and you are telling me its going to take a week to have something shipped from an hour and a half away? After my tiles sat in San Diego for a week?

Him - well... they don't use UPS or FedX to ship things.

Me - Look - I spoke directly to you last week about this same issue. I was told these tiles were going to be shipped to Expo initially. Which is what pissed me off the first time. Since I'm unhappy I'm driving all over town to pick up three boxes of tiles, when I'm told the other two were going to be shipped to the store.

I am not going back to that warehouse for two boxes of tiles when I was told they were going to be shipped to the store intially- then to my house. I can't believe Expo inconveniences people to this degree.

Additionally - last week you asked my to give Expo another chance. It's like you don't even remember having a conversation with me last week. (You can read it here)

Your people called me to say these tiles were going to be shipped to me. It makes customers more unhappy than if you would have kept the original schedule - because your staff went out of their way to call me to say they would be in early. I told you I wasn't going to buy from your company again because of the inconvenience of buying tiles from Expo.

I was just pissed and ranty. To be honest.

So, to sum things up. I've had to talk to Expo more than 10 times on this order. Just to try and even find out where my tile is.

To pick them up - I would have to waste between 3-5 hours of time. All for 45 square feet of tile.

The people in all the Home Depot stores are trained equally as horribly. They got rid of all the older people who were probably costing them a lot of money, and replaced them with kids who have never even picked up a hammer. Kids who are apathetic to what real customer service means - or can even retain a thought for a minute or two.

Home Depot needs to get back to its roots and provide customer service for the "do it yourself" set. Isn't that what their whole business model was built on? "You can do it"?

Well - not if you can't buy the items you need - or get anyone in a department to provide simple customer service.

Monday, February 25, 2008

My Kindle review.

I will be the first to admit I was not hot on the Kindle. I liked the look of E-book readers. But - since I'm illiterate, they weren't a product that I could fall in love with. The Kindle, however.. so... totally...in...love.

The reasons?

Every morning I get up - and through the tiny slits of my un-caffeinated eyes, I see Mr S. reading the Kindle. While making me coffee, of course. That's what any sane husband would do. Right? Every single morning I see him reading it.

I love that. It's a product that he actually uses. Faithfully.

I deem that I listened way to much to Scoble.. because, while the design isn't perfect. The potential is what makes me super hot.

This is roughly the conversation Mr S. and I had last night while watching Cranky Geeks.

Me - why do you think the Kindle is way more popular than the e-book readers?

Mr S. - Because, the e-book readers you needed to hook up to your computer to down-load stuff. Just hooking your cell phone up can be a pain sometimes. The way the Kindle works, it's just much less hassle. Plus the e-book readers didn't have the vast amount of content you can buy through Amazon.

Me - Oooooh. Yeah. Connecting anything to your computer can be a pain in the ass. That's right!

Me again - I'm just loving the potential of the Kindle now. Which is kind of funny because I thought it was ridiculous in the beginning. Just imagine how much better my weekly mail pile would be if all the magazine companies put all their stuff on the Kindle.

Just today - I went through the 20 magazines I had piled up in the mail. It probably weighed 10 pounds. Not to mention I always hated storing books. Since, you didn't like it when I stored them by size instead of Author or content.

This made Mr S. laugh because we've had a few squabbles about bookshelves. The different sized books always bothered me. I want it to look clean, so I'd sort them by size.

Plus - books are a constant source of dusting tasks. Not to mention the reduction in shipping related packing material. Love....love...love..it.

Even though I'm still illiterate.

Single point of failure.

Me.

The day didn't start well. I've got to get this house wrapped up - or I will loose my mind.

The texture guys were still there this morning. Doing things in the exact opposite order I asked them to to. So, while the bathrooms are pretty much done - the kitchen is wet. Meaning - Alpha contractor can't work today. Which spun me up like a top. Also making me unwind? I told the texture guys I would completely freak out if they didn't cover my black tiles in the master bath. They didn't cover them. They assured me.. "we cover everything".

Also not helping? Not one of them spoke English. Which has been much less of an issue in recent months. All the "questionable" workers have fled to other states because my state has really been cracking down. Even the guys I used to use - all seem to have college students working for them now. So I'm guessing some of their guys have gone home or moved somewhere else. You couldn't hire any contractor a year ago without seeing someone on the job you thought might be questionable. But - the companies are suppose to check. Not me.

So anyway.. I didn't think the whole English thing would be much of a problem. But when you walk in and ask them a question and they just stare at you... it's a problem.

Alpha contractor was mostly good though. Not a hint of prima donna. Perhaps he understood I wasn't in the mood. Or that it would be better for him if he doesn't make me crazy - as I'll just whip someone in to get a job done while he's relaxing at home thinking everything is bliss. My bitch hand is strong - but my patience is weak.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Explain.



I find it a little confusing to see technology inspired graffiti these days. Isn't graffiti suppose to be rebellious? When you stick a television in... it just somehow seems wierd.

Still waiting.

Mr S. and I decided to take the weekend off. Except when I got neurotic, and thought my texture guys were screwing something up - so I pleaded for Mr S. to go check. He gladly obliged.

Anyway - I got to sleep in for the first time in a couple of months. It was a stormy weekend and the neighborhood was so quiet - you could hear a pin drop.

Today, I haven't even left the house. But - I feel much more sane. I was a little on the ledge on Friday. I handed the key to the house to my friend who lives across the street and told her it was hers. I couldn't take it anymore. Between the contractors trying to bleed me dry, and all the personal dynamics - I had completely lost control of my project. Again.

So - I thought I'd take this opportunity to show you were we are at in the master bath.



Its been rainy - so these are a little darker than in reality. The color is somewhere between the last photo update and the photo above.

I'm super glad I took photos the whole way. It's so easy to get lost in the project. So - I can hardly believe this room used to look like this. I mean - I remember.. but you forget a little until you see the photos again. I just get caught up in things not progressing.

Last week - Expo called to say they were going to ship the tile for my shower pan to me. They were suppose to arrive on Friday. They didn't. And you know... it's sort of more annoying than if they would have kept the original schedule.

I mean - they took the time to call me and tell me the tile would be in early.. and then didn't get it to me early. Am I the only one who finds that annoying?

Since the master bath is pretty much stable - I'll start posting pictures of the other rooms soon. I was going to give you pictures of the main bath today, but I don't feel like tracking down the before pictures with the yellow tub I had to rip out.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Friday, February 22, 2008

The love-fest is -so- off.

It is pretty amazing to me how different things can be from day to day. Last week I was loving the contractors. This week - they can suck my balls. It is like a constant battle with them.

So - this particular meltdown happened because Alpha contractor brought his paint guy over to give me a quote for mouldings, doors, and the outside of the house. Which was in the range of "are you out of your fucking mind"?

Let's just say the whole quote would have bought a small fully loaded compact car. You've seen the crapshack. It isn't a mansion.

When I told Alpha contractor the price didn't make sense for the house - he didn't say the appropriate thing. Like "yeah - thats a little pricey for this neighborhood". He started giving me all the reasons I should choose his guy.

Which involved "but the house will look like a million dollar house when its finished". Well - the house isn't a million dollar house, and won't be for a very long time.

But - I could have gotten past that whole thing. I understand they all want to use their guys.

My first impulse was to get some guys to come in after Alpha contractor had left for the day. But shit - last I remember.. I'm his boss. So I just confronted it head on and told him I was getting some people to give me quotes today while he was there.

All of a sudden he turns into a disapproving mother-in-law, and starts giving me strong vibes he feels I'm being cheap about the whole thing. Which so totally pisses me off-you can't even imagine. I have been anything but cheap with this house.

After the guy left from giving me a quote - Alpha contractor was clucking about how quickly the guy walked around the house. I've used this painter before - so back the fuck off. Man, Alpha contractor is pissing me off today.

I mean - his painters wanted more than it is costing me to have my whole kitchen installed for christ sakes.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

This is how things worked out.

The washer guy came today. He was really sharp/funny/willing to share information. I liked him. And I will continue to do so - until my washer stops working.

This is the deal with the codes. They don't even give the cheat codes out to the repair men. They just replace parts. That generally opens the door. But this is what he told us - and we'd actually read it on a self help site, but couldn't figure out exactly where they were referring to.

The manufacturer actually puts the cookie codes on the inside of the machine. The ones that over-ride door locks and such.

For my particular model MAH8700AWM. They are underneath the instrument panel shown here.



You take the top cover off. I believe the screws are at the back of the machine. Take the soap dispenser to the left out with the two screws holding it in, and the front panel snaps off. Allegedly.

The repair man said it was ridiculous. He felt most people were computer savvy enough to have this knowledge, and didn't feel like the general public knowing these codes would in any way affect his work load. Which made me like him ever .. so.... much.... more. He even said that his bosses were so cheap - they'd love not to have to pay him.

After he got it working - my dryer stopped working. My GFI outlet co-incidentally died imminently. Fix one problem - gain another always seems to be the motto at our house.

Then, after diagnosing the electrical problem and getting it fixed we promptly tested it out because the washer hose wound up spewing water everywhere. I was super happy to have insisted on putting a drain in the floor when we re-did the laundry room. I got to use it twice today. Once when the repair man was here. Luckily the drain made it so the room didn't flood. So, the only issue was the outlet to getting wet and throwing the GFI.

Ah... it feels nice to be back to where we started from a couple of days ago. But much much tired-er.

Should I be nervous?

Yesterday I decided that I wanted to call the washing machine repair people. Not to get my appointment moved up or to complain. But simply to see if they would give me the magic cookie code to get the washer opened. I tried several times, and finally told Mr S. I couldn't get anything but a busy signal from the number he'd given me.

So - Mr S. apparently tried for a few hours from his work. At some point he must have used his cell phone to call and finally get through. They immediately offered to move the appointment up. Which was nice, because Mr S. hadn't even asked. He just wanted the code.

When he told them about our problems trying to get through. They told him "sometimes we have problems with the answering service if you call in on an unlisted line".

I'm not sure I believe them. I've called tons of companies who clearly identified me from my caller id.

What does it say about an appliance repair shop when their answering machine doesn't even work right? It is an appliance!

Anyway - they are coming today instead of Saturday. If I can get the code, I'm going to post it everywhere.

Apparently I'm the last person on the planet who knew about the door lock issues. Everyone I talk to seem to be pissed about the feature because there isn't anything you can do but call someone out.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I can see a hint of light.

Today, I feel pretty good about the contractors. I think we have finally found a groove. Alpha contractor and I have stopped butting heads all together. He understands I'm going to want stuff that is slightly a pain in the ass.

But - I'm going do whatever I can to make it easier for him. Like our fight about my pocket doors. He wants to be proud of his work, and I don't want things hacked up either. So.. things are better.

I think I've grown to feel like less of a pain in the ass too. Because I do a lot of work to help the contractors out.

Our tile guy might become a fixture. He does super good work. He's nice. And he's already started confiding in me about his personal issues. So - I guess he's becoming part of the contractor family.

I'm feeling like I have a really good crew right now. They give me the impression they like being on a site where they feel really appreciated and respected. Where their opinions matter. Which is actually how I treat all my contractors until they screw up. Some recognize it more than others. Perhaps it's an age thing. This crew is a little older.. so I think the feedback they get from me is more meaningful.

The other interesting dynamic is I find my guys are really calm with me. Their personal lives are a bloody mess. But with me - they are very calming personalities. My personal life is very calm - but the rest is complete chaos. So maybe somehow we balance each other out.

I will have to factor in the personal dynamics for the next project though. It has really taken a lot more of my energy than I ever expected.

In other real estate news. A house went up for sale on my crapshack block a couple of weeks ago. Yesterday I drove by and it had a Sold sign. That made me really happy. Houses are still selling, and my direct competition is gone. If it holds through escrow.

More about yesterday.

So - yesterday was the day I was suppose to get my tile for the master bath floor. I'd ordered it through the Expo Design center a couple of weeks ago. Remember I was pissed about having to drive about 45 minutes away to get it?

We get to the warehouse. Well.. it was actually hundreds of warehouses which were poorly labeled. Unless you think standard size printer paper is a good enough sign when people are driving past hundreds of tiny office style warehouse fronts.

At any rate - we find the correct one. We start the process of getting the tile from the back of the warehouse. And drum roll please....

They only have half of the order. But the warehouse can't find out where the rest of the order. Because they aren't actually connected at all to Expo. They just recieve deliveries.

So, I call the Expo design center who tells me the tile is ready to be picked up. Which makes me hot. I tell them I'm at the warehouse, and if the tile is there I want to pick it up.

After 3 calls from the design center I'm told the remaining part of my order is suppose to be transfered to the Expo design center later that day. I should call "will call" later to get it.

I'm ready to flip out at the point. If my tile can be shipped to Expo what the fuck am I doing at a warehouse in San Leandro. I was told that no tile gets shipped to the Expo store anymore.

So we start driving home. When it occures to me - I should call will call now and see what they say. After two more calls from Expo will call I find my tile will not be there today. It is in San Diego. And they aren't even fucking shipping it till Friday.

Let me just tell you - it is two boxes of tiles for my shower tub area. It's maybe 3 foot by 5 feet.

You can get anything shipped via gound service in California in 1 day. And they aren't even shipping my two boxes of tiles until Friday. Are they kidding me? That will be three weeks by the time it arrives.

I've had a laptop shipped from China in a week. Fuck I'm pissed.

Anyway - I tell the will call guy I'm not yelling at him, but they better be ready for me to yell at someone when I come to pick up my tile. He then tells me I can talk to a maanger right then.

I proceed to tell him that I'm not ordering tile from them anymore. They have lost of a customer. He does what managers do - then tells me the following story.

Allegedly the reason they changed the rule not allowing people to pick up tile at the Expo store is because they had a sales representative that would place massive orders. And they would have huge pallets just sitting around and taking up all the space.

So - instead of reprimanding the sales rep - they made it so all their customers were inconvenienced and needed to pick up tile at the warehouse. No matter the size of the order.

Yeah... that makes good business sense. Now I'm double not ordering from you again because you can't control your f-ing employees. Yeah.. I'm still pissed.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Meltdown on isle 5.

Today has been a pretty bad day. But - I only have enough energy to blog about one of the todays problems. Hopefully I will get to the other one tomorrow before any new catastrophes happen. Today though... I want to tell you about how much a despise my washing machine. A Matag Neptune front loader. This one:



I have never hated anything in my life as much as I hate this machine. I've hated it since the beginning. I've cursed its lack of performance on a semi daily basis. I really want to take a sledge hammer it.

I didn't buy it because of some douchebaggery "greenie" issue. I bought it because it was the first time in history you could have a washing machine in your house that looked nice. Saving water was just a bonus. But that is the rub. This thing doesn't even save any water. It cleans so poorly we have to wash at least half the loads twice. And if you have any animal hair - like bunnies.. you might have to run a load three times. Since it doesn't use very much water - it doesn't get pet hair off clothing very well.

Today however - I found a new reason to want to push it off an over-pass.

When the machine somehow malfunctions in the middle of a load - you can't get the door open. It has a lock feature that prevents it opening - so kids don't crawl inside. It being a front loader and all.

Since I can't get a repairman to come out until Saturday - my clothes are going to probably mold up and be unusable.

It would have never occurre me that something like this would be a problem. I'm surprised they don't have some over-load button make the door open.

I was hoping the machine would somehow reboot when I unplugged it.. but nope. My clothes are still stuck in there.

I can't even sell this thing to anyone in good conscience.

Continued.

So... Mr S. and I wound up having a long discussion last night. Mainly because I've always thought I was extremely tolerant of religion. Especially in light of me not caring one iota about it. Don't care - don't care - don't care.

Let me see if I can encapsulate what we talked about.

Me - You really think I'm intolerant. Really? Because I think I'm pretty tolerant. I've politely let people try to save and convert me my whole life. I've never been hostile or tried to push my views on them. I don't walk into a room full of Christians and say "you must stop believing in God". I just don't get what everybody gets in religion.

I thought religion is suppose to make people happier - and it just doesn't. So - I don't get it. Especially the super churchy people. They seem to be the unhappiest. I don't understand why they spend so much effort trying to be happy in the "next life." Why not just try to be happy in this one? What if the next life sucks too? Then you have to wait for the life after that? Screw that! Why not just try to be happy here now.

Mr S.- Well maybe intolerant is the wrong word. You are always looking for some underlying negative. It's sort of like...( He trails off trying to find the right phrase.)

Me - Like when girls become strippers - people ask if their daddies molesterd them? (I love to complete peoples sentences. Which probably makes me an asshole.)

Mr S.- Yes.. exactly. You are always trying to find some reason for people doing nice things.

Me - Well that's true. But you could say that about any segment of the population. Not just religion.

I think we finally agreed that I'm just generally cynical. And not really intolerant. That Mr S. might be slightly bitter I always call him churchy. When he isn't. He just knows a lot of churchy stuff. He comes from the land of a million churches after all.

Oh - and I wanted to know if there was some level of hell that I could go to where the general public wouldn't wind up. Some of those people are going to be poseurs. There must be some first class segment of hell I'd be comfortable in. But not the cold hell.. because that would suck.

Anyway... I walked into the house this morning. No contractors. I don't think they have shown up yet. But - they did leave the religious radio on all night. Maybe they are trying to purify the house or something.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Who will save your soul?

Some interesting dynamics have cropped up at the crapshack in the last few weeks. You want to know what it is?

Religion. Thats right. You heard me.

Normally I run a religious free zone. But recently - religion has become huge for me at the crapshack. Mainly because I have no feeling at all about it. I pretty much think it is a waste of time. I'm glad it gives people comfort - but don't expect me to pay attention to anything regarding religion. Mr S. considers me downright intolerant. For reasons I still don't understand. Maybe its because most of our conversations about religion consist of " really... they believe that - no seriously". There might be some laughter.

But - I don't dislike any region or people because of their faith. I pretty much think everyone is churchy to some degree. Although, it is pretty easy to find people who are ambivalent or uninterested about religion in California. At any rate.. I'd have to dislike most people. And of course I sort of do.. but not because of that.

Generally its because they are in my way. If you can tie that into religion.. well have at it.

In recent weeks however I've begun to realize a few of the contractors were pretty churchy. Well, let me rephrase that - Super Christians. I'm not joking. Rapture religious. Listen to religious radio.

Whatever.. I don't really care. But it is amusing though, because I'm about as opposite of that as you can get. And I've had to curb liberal deity cussing. I mostly do it when I injure myself or can't get something to work. But...I figure it is pretty inappropriate. I've had to curb cussing a lot actually. It sucks ass.

Anyway - last week Alpha contractor was trying to save my soul. I'm top on his prayer list now. After several weeks of his religious advances.. I finally had to tell him I don't care what happens to my soul when I'm dead. So far he's been good since. But, I was laying tile at the house today and my girlfriend from across the street was over. The tile guy ( who is amazing - I can't wait to show you pictures) was listening to religious radio. I was busy doing my project and not even paying attention to the radio until my girlfriend pointed it out. Which immediately made me think " shit..another guy I have to stop cussing in front of". I hope he hasn't been offended this while time. He's a really good tile guy.

At any rate.. I barely can handle myself appropriately in normal public. Let alone - super Christians. What other challenges is this house going to throw at me. I mean.. come on! Don't I have enough going on?

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Driving away customers.

With the downturn of the economy - I hoped companies would take this time to learn what it is customers really want. Namely - better customer service.

Sadly, I still don't see any evidence companies care about getting a customer to return. They know we have a lot of choices right? So... pissing a customer off - only sends them to another establishment. Here is an example.

One of the more frustrating things about rehabbing the crapshack has been buying tile. We'd started out at Home Depo. But - they don't really carry much tile anymore. Plus there is only so much tan I can take.

Our next stop was the Expo Design center. Which is just a division of Home Depo. They have tons of choices. They really do. But getting tile through them has grown to be really irritating. We've gotten tons of tile from them in the past, but something has changed. They've decided to make buying tile from them as inconvenient as possible.

We wanted to buy some really unremarkable black mosaics made by Dal-tile. We would have bought them directly through Dal-tile, but they don't sell to the public anymore. So the only other place we knew to get them was from Expo.

I was a little surprised that for such an plain unremarkable tile, it was going to take two weeks. I know it seems fussy to think I shouldn't wait a couple weeks for tile - but honestly you can get most anything shipped anywhere in a week these days.

That wasn't the most irritating part though. To get my tile - I have to drive 25 miles to San Leandro, Ca.

Dal-tile won't ship the tile to the Expo Design center at all. They ship it to a warehouse in San Leandro. I have three Dal-Tile stores within 25 miles of my home. My local Dal-tile is less than 2 miles from my house. Yet they will not ship it to any of those stores either. They are franchises - so they wont accept something shipped from Dal-tile Atlanta for instance, that wasn't ordered by them. So, I have to go pick it up. Which really irritates me. Like I have nothing better to do.

This has also forced me into buying from boutique tile stores. Which still sort of sucks. I still have to travel about 25 miles, but most of the stores I've bought from since buying at the Expo - has given me the items that day. One store it took two days. But it is still better than having to travel and wait over two weeks. Expo will certainly be the last place on my list to get tile from now.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

How my neighbors continue to drive me nuts.

It has been a long - long week. So perhaps I'm over-reacting. But, it doesn't matter because it is making me crazy anyway.

I have dueling neighbor issues today. Man - I despise neighbors so very much.

The first issue. One of the creepy neighbors decided he wanted to fix the segment of fence we share. Which I normally would completely love. But - I walked out into the living room on Wednesday and the fence is just down. Did he mention anything to us about when he was going to take it down. Nope.

There goes walking around barely clothed. Only one room in my house actually has curtains. Well.. if you want to get technical. It still has boxes. I'm trying to get back to the curtain project. Anyway.. I'm getting off track.

The reason we bought this house is because it was situated in relation to the neighbors in a way the house doesn't need curtains. I love that about this house. Most of the time it is very private. So having a segment of fence down really puts a dent into my privacy.

Add to this - the neighbor wants to fix it himself. I've offered help. But.. whatever. Normally this would be something I'd love as well, because I'm overloaded and don't want to deal with the fence right now. I'd rather just pay to make to go away. But, this is making the repair take a long time. Its been down for three days now. My guys would have had this fence fixed 3 times by now. At this rate - I might be without a fence for a week. And - its making me super crazy.

Plus, when I get back from the crap shack - I want to drop all my clothes in the laundry room and go take a shower. Well... I can't do that because my neighbor now has a direct line of sight. Plus - I just need some defensible space from people sometimes.

The next issue. The white trash neighbors at the crapshack.

Okay... can any of you people with dogs tell me why you would let your dog hang out in the front yard while you are away at work. Aren't you afraid the dog might go nutty one day and bite someone? But that isn't my problem.. I'm mostly just curious. And that dog is a barker. I have evil thoughts of having the pound pick it up - if it causes a problem with my new buyers.

Back to the problem. I often drive up to the crapshack and the neighbors have trash strewn everywhere. You know.. like what you see on the sides of freeways. I'm not kidding.

When we first bought the house it was broken bottles. Then, one time it was fast food trash. Then today, I get to the house today and my contractor says "hey - did you see the trash your neighbors had strewn everywhere"? He takes me out to the area, and there are empty cigarette boxes everywhere. Which is actually on our property. This guy must be a several pack a day smoker. Plus he's been using my contractors dump trailer for his personal trash bin.

Now - lots of people do that when it's on the street. But it is in my driveway. And I pay by the pound to get it dumped. Not like they are costing me much. But still. Who f-ing does that?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Sneak Peek.

Last Friday, when alpha contractor called to tell me the kitchen was in - I had this overwhelming feeling of calm. Sort of like the feeling you get laying in a swimming pool with your head under water. All the noise went away. Well.. for like two minutes. But, it was the best two minutes ever.

I think I've finally crested the hill. My kitchen will start to be installed on Monday. All the holes in my floors are jacked back up/repaired/ and closed. Lets say it together. There are no holes in my floors. Aw... that feels so nice.

I've learned two things about doing houses I'm not living in. The middle feels like a bottomless black pit. Now I've started to get excited again. I can finally see our ideas coming to life.

The other thing is.. when you have termites - you have way more water damage than you expect. And - I knew there was a ton of water damage.

Here is a sneak peek at the tiles. Feel free to make comments. Even if those comments are "holy fuck I wouldn't have done that".

The color balance is off...which makes them look not so great. Too many weird colors in the room right now causing the tiles to refract odd light. But - since I don't know when dal-tile is going to ship my order - I'm letting you look at the tiles before the rest is completed. Thanks again for all the feedback to my One or Two post.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

My happy feel good issue for today.





I'm always bring my realtor friend over to the house to ask how much my house will sell for. She always complains about my house having a hole in the floor.

Well, two days ago - I didn't have any holes in the floor. She had to complain about there not being a kitchen. Whatever.

Which I might add.... the place looks better with holes in the floors and no kitchen than the day we bought it.

Anyway... now I have another hole in the floor. I honestly am not sure how someone can let a house get so out of control.

Monday, February 11, 2008

This made me happy.

My shower tiles have been up for a few days. No - I'm not showing you yet.

The tiles aren't grouted, and the rest of the tiles for the shower pan area and bathroom floor won't be in until the end of the week. You'll get to see them after that.

But - I did have a couple friends over to the crapshack today to see the tiles. I have to ask everyone I know their opinions on our designs. I'm fine if they don't like it, but I still like to conduct a small poll sample of people opinions. I've always been that way.

Mostly - I'm looking at body language, because you can't trust your friends to tell you the truth on this kind of thing.

Anyway... those tiles make people want to walk up and feel them. Not just a tap to see what they're made of - but a caress.

Which I think is sort of interesting.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Open.

Dancing on the Rattlesnake den.

It has been a very busy weekend Folks. This morning Mr S. and I started out going to breakfast. You know how much I love that. It keeps me from beating people to a bloody pulp. Just barely.

Mr S. decided to wear his new "no Che t-shirt. Which, I have to admit, made me a little anxious. I'm not much of an attention getter, and this is Communfornia after all. It's a bit like dancing on the rattlesnakes den. Meaning, people are pretty sensitive about this stuff around here. You might get bitten. I expected at least a few dirty looks.

Anyway - we get to the restaurant and there was a group of super hippies hanging out in the parking lot. Of all days! A couple of them had dreads down to their knees. We managed to go about our business with only a few stares.

We went to a bathroom showroom downtown. Mr S. and I are all hot on those floating vanities. But they all seem to be made like crap. The local showroom has a cabinet maker, so we thought we would try those guys. For the second time we've been in though, they have set off my bullshit meter. I just can't bring myself to give them any money. They said they'd make the cabinets, but they had to install them. For liability reasons. Which translates.. we won't charge you much for the vanity, but we'll make it up in labor.

Then because it was such a beautiful day - I started realizing I'm going to have to start prepping the garden for tomato season. The crapshack has been taking all of my time, and I just can't live without fresh home grown tomatoes. But, as usual we got sidetracked.

You see.. the woman that lived in this house before us, planted roses with wreckless abandon. When we first moved in - I counted 50 of them. I've managed to rip out half. I still have the other half. And.... I... hate.... every single one of those fuckers. Yet, I can't bring myself to rip the rest out. It totally confuses me why I have such a hang up about them. I mean.. You people know me - ish. I love ripping shit out. But somehow I can't cut down these 25 f-ing bushes.

Some of the other 25 some have started to grow back from some miniscule section of roots. I didn't even know they could do that. So they keep popping up in places I've thought they were long gone in. Man I hate those bushes.

Yesterday was a big shopping day. We found tile for the crapshack kitchen. I wanted to beat people at Lamps Plus. Mostly the staff because they suck so very much. All we wanted to do was ask some questions about the LED down-lights they list on their site. Because California has some new lighting rules that totally suck. So we have to find an alternative or buck the system. We eventually left without being able to talk to anyone. Every store was super packed because the weather was nice. Which shocked me, because I'd gotten used to going into stores and being almost the only one there. Now stores are super understaffed and extra annoying.

Anyway... I'm going to have to start thinking up names for the crapshack in a little while. Since it will no longer be crappy. You know like that whole Prince thing. Formerly known as crapshack - or something.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Welcome to guy tech support. How may I handle your call?

This is the conversation I had with Mr S. last night.

Me - "thank gawd Alpha contractor wasn't at the house today. I don't think I could have handled it."

Mr S. - "me too. I don't think I could have handled many more calls to guy tech support."

Me - what?!

Mr S. - It's like I'm the tech support line for how to understand men. Then in an indian accent he says "Welcome to guy support. How can I help you".

Then him mimicking me - "My guys are malfunctioning and I don't know how to fix them."

It took me a couple of seconds... but that is actually exactly what it's been like. My husband has been a massive help in translating what is going on with my guys. Because, I feel I have to understand why they are doing the things they are - so I can get them to do the things I want them to do.

All I know is that roofer is gone today, and I feel so much static leaving my head.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

When lines blur.

I'm not sure when this happened - but I started speculating about it here. I think my roofer and I are friends. Why does that seem odd you ask? Because a business relationship has silently crossed over into something different. No - not in that way people! Mr S. keeps me perfectly happy.

I talk to all my guys about personal stuff, and I don't think much about it. People talk to me about all sorts of things. Even when I don't want them to. But around Christmas, I began wondering if the roofer actually thought we were friends.

We don't really have a lot in common, and as you get older people stay acquaintances for much longer. You aren't bonded by partying and broken hearts. Plus when you have a business relationship, you aren't sure how much of a friendship is financially related. But this guy has certainly been acting a lot like a friend. Which has invoked a lot of discussion with Mr S. asking "are he and I friends ? - I don't really know". He does a lot of stuff he doesn't have to keep a business relationship. Like gift baskets at Christmas.

Anyway... you probably saw my post earlier today about the shower. Roofer wound up calling to say he was going to pick up his massive trailer from the crapshack driveway. I basically said "okay".

I wasn't sure how I was going to handle the shower discussion yet. Because honestly - sometimes the devil contractor you know, is better than the one you need to replace him with. I figured when he came around for a check - I'd have that discussion with him. Not an hour later I get a call from him, and he has his panties in a bunch about the shower. He was talking about my tile guy - who is still at the house floating my shower.

Roofer and I actually get into a bit of a tiff.

Which was super weird. I don't think I've ever had a fight with any of my contractors. Even when I've kicked them off jobs. I just tell them not to come back the next day. Most contractors are happy to oblige. If either party becomes a hassle - everyone is happy to walk away.

By how upset he was, I wasn't sure if he had been a dick to the tile guy or not. So I had to run over to the house and see what transpired over there. I have to tell you - I've never had so much drama with a contractor.

We eventually came to a mans agreement about the shower while ripping out the crapshack kitchen floor. Which as a female - I don't quite understand, to tell you the truth. But, I know enough to know that guys do projects together, decide that things are okay, and figure out how to resolve stuff.

His trailer is still in my crapshack driveway - so I guess he's okay now. Which makes me think - we may be friends.

Life's little surprises.

First - let me say to my readers how much I enjoyed your feedback on my One or Two post. I was actually surprised how interesting I found it. This is why.

Being the betting woman I am... I would have expected more of an 80/20 - 60/40 vote. I think in any random sampling you are just as likely to get a 50/50 vote. It was really interesting to see how many people voted for the top image. So - I might do more of those kinds of posts. Because, I really like when people surprise me.

Two - I think if I can make it through the next two weeks I might be cresting a hill. Like any hill - once you get near the top, it feels like quicksand. My tile guy is at the house floating out my shower. My kitchen should arrive next week.

Here is the thing that is bumming me out today. Alpha contractor has moved all his guys in. Every contractor does that. They all want to move the people they have worked with into a project. I normally try to resist it. This is why.

My roof guy has been working for me for years. He has always done really great work. I've had many building inspectors out on his jobs, and things have always been great. Our city is pretty well known for being inflexible when it comes to getting stuff to pass inspection.

So, it surprised me a lot when my roofer fell part on me with the shower. But, since he has a better track record for doing stuff well, than f-ing up. I'm willing to give him a second chance. This is the part that pisses me off though.

I told him if he learned to do the showers the way alpha contractor wanted him to, he could probably get a bunch of work from it. Word of mouth is huge. As I said in an earlier post -if he undercut the locals by even 200 bucks, he can do well in this area. If you can get people to drive 4 hours round trip for almost half the price of the locals.. well - you do the math. Maybe he doesn't want to do the job in the first place. Fine. Say that in the beginning.

Anyway... I'm getting off track. He has a key to the place. I told him when the new roofer would be at the house, so he could learn the correct method, and he totally blew it off. He could have walked in without anyone being there and saw how the other guy did it. But he didn't. The reason I know this is - his f-ing giant hauling trailer is still in my crapshack driveway. If he was working - he would need his trailer. In all honesty the second roofers job was obviously better, once I saw it. The job my roofer had done would have caused me all sorts of future problems with my buyers.

So, now I need to call him out. Which so annoys me. I get so tired of having to call contractors out.

This is like the 7th job he's been with me for, and now I can't depend on him. This is why I hate letting one guy control a whole project. It doesn't matter how many years they work for you.. they eventually flake.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Moving ahead.

Yesterday - my soul was as as black as the tar I had to rip out and have reinstalled in my bathroom. I was starting to become superstitious about my house. Which is so totally unlike me. But, for a minute I was starting to think Jeff Lewis was looking sane.

You remember my house is a dead people house. Right? I was starting to think I might need an exorcism to extricate the bad mojo, and get my project moving.

Fixing houses apparently can make you the most bi-polar freak on the planet. Take one step out of your comfort zone, and things go badly quickly. Which is where I've been at for the past two weeks.

It all started with this master bathroom. The one that was up on jacks you ask? Why yes.. that one. I knew the bathroom was f-ed. What I didn't know was - the previous owners had pulled out some support beams.





From the first inspection of the house on - I was under the impression the bathroom was up on jacks due to all the dry-rot. Until alpha contractor arrived and told me my house was not going to pass inspection if I didn't fix it. Oh yeah - it isn't lost on me that it wasn't flagged on my inspection, but you can guarantee that some other inspector will flag it just to fuck up my day. In this market.. you can't take chances like that.

Anyway.. I get through that bit of madness, and I'm ready to put in the waterproof barrier for the walk in.



The previous owners had already removed the tub - so I figured having a walk-in would be somewhat unique for the neighborhood. My roofer told me he had done tar burn downs on like 20 of these types of showers. This is a process of burning tar sheets to weld them together to form a waterproof liner.

Normally you have a guy with a tar bucket come in - but in California, tar isn't really used as much anymore. When you see roofs being put on, they don't pull a big flaming tar melting machine around with them. So I figured - times change. Building codes change, and this is the new modern way they do these things.

Nope! Alpha contractor comes in, and has a fit. It isn't sloped right. Water is going to collect in the corners. At any rate..I need to call my guy to have him rip it out. Which he does - but my tile guy can't do his work. Which sets him back several days. And, oh by the way - he is coming from Sacramento. More than two hours away. So he drove out that day for no good fucking reason.

Anyway - today I had a roofer out. Who has done the job to alpha contractors satisfaction. It's my tile guys' roofer. Who also came from Sacramento. Even though I had to pay his gas both ways - it cost me 400 bucks less than anyone I could get locally. I just hate having guys travel 4 hours to do a one hour job.



So, the moral of the story is - I now know the correct way to do one of those walk in showers, but I would rather lay down in a hot bed of tar before I feel like doing another one.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

What is bothering me today? Thanks for asking.

1. The woman at the store - who couldn't be bothered to take 5 seconds to let me get into my car. Yet took over a minute to strap her demon spawn into its car seat. Despite the fact I was standing at the front of my car staring directly at her. With my arms crossed no less. I didn't think my projected desire to get inside my car was ambiguous at all.

I don't know about you.. when someone is staring at me - it f-ing creeps me out. Letting you get into your car and leave, makes you stop staring at me. Problem solved. Oh - but not this chick. I guess she thinks people just want to stop and admire her overwhelming courtesy.

2. Hillary Clinton. Yeah - that's right. It's one thing to cry once, to try and prove you are female and caring. But crying twice? All the other stuff aside - would any of you hire someone who cried in a job interview? There is no crying in politics! Don't we have enough guys still asking us if we are PMS'ing when we have a shitty day? If you want to work in a mans field - man up. Women who are going to vote for you because you cry - are old and whiney and shouldn't be making any decisions about the country anyway. And oh- by the way.. stop using my uterus as a bargaining chip. I'm not voting for you just because you are a woman. Because they cry! We never saw Margaret Thatcher cry, and she managed to run a country quite well.

3. The state of the service industry. Everywhere I go, I hear people complaining about the economy slowing down. Does that make anyone worried about their job? I mean worried enough to work harder and make customers happier. You know.. more willing to shop at your establishment? Oh no. Just the opposite is happening. You'd think with less customers, they could focus more on the ones they do have. But no...customer service productivity has even gotten worse. If that is even believable. It seems even harder to find someone to swipe your f-ing credit card then when the stores were jam packed. Yet the retailers wonder why people are aren't shopping at the brick and mortar stores as much. It's because you make it difficult for us to buy things from your store. Duh!

Post dump - eminent.

I wanted to thank you all for your awesome feedback on my bathroom tile orientation. If you are able to say why you think #1 is better - that would be appreciated too. I know sometimes the answer is " I just like it better". Because - I was convinced everyone would like #2 better.

I have a lot to write about.. and complain about.

I hope to get around to that later today. If I don't completely loose my mind in the meantime. Which could possibly happen. I've finally gotten a day away from my crapshack. But - I have to go to the supermarket. I haven't been able to go in two weeks. I'll start my bail donation fund now.
 
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