Saturday, May 23, 2009

Framework Installed...Concrete Poured

Arms And Back Starting To Feel Their Age...

About 3:30 PM yesterday we drug all the tools out of the yard and into the carport and wound up the extension cords and air compressor hoses, content with the knowledge that I was pretty much on schedule and the lumber quantities I ordered thus far had worked out exactly as planned.

The local lumber yard where my Neighbor Danny works delivered the #1 Kiln Dried Pressure Treated decking lumber right after lunch, so just as my pile of unused Home Depot boards were dwindling down to about a dozen, another pile of BEAUTIFUL lumber appeared for my use later this Saturday morning while installing the Deck and step surfaces.

For reference, #1 Kiln Dried Pressure Treated is the best darn natural wood product you can use for Deck construction here in the Southern US, and I felt like spending the extra 15% or 20% was worth the investment.

I know they have other options like Cedar and Redwood and of course the new man made composites like "TREX" but for a house in our price range in our neighborhood with the possibility of selling in the next 12 months I couldn't see spending three or four times as much on deck boards when Danny offered us a deal on the fancy Southern Yellow Pine.

Having the basic structural framework in place just makes me wish we could afford to build the entire deck in one mobilization because so much of the area is taken up with the oversized 5' x 15" exit step out of the house and the three similar sized steps down to the yard.

The good news is that there is still room for two lounge chairs or a table and four chairs for dining and most importantly...Missy the Turbo Pup will finally be able to let herself in and out of the house through her new pet door to sun herself and do her "business" without one of us having to escort her on her leash.

Truth be told, the real estate improvement angle almost takes a back seat to the ability to let our little Turbo Pup gain access to the yard so she can be a Hound Dog instead of just a glorified House Dog.

I guess now it's time to do some as built CAD drawing modifications, spread on some more Bengay Ointment, and catch a few more hours sleep before making more sawdust.

Wish us luck...if you will...

Friday, May 22, 2009

I've Had It Up To Here...

Pointing To The Top Of My Ever Greying, Ever Balding Head...

Forget Rasmussen and Gallup and all of the other formal Political "Opinion" polls...

I'm taking my own poll this morning, and I want to know how many people out there that watch TV after 3:30 AM or 4:00 AM would rather see something like this on their screen:

rather than the idiots hawking the "Male enhancements" and the "AB rockets" and the "Real Estate Whatevers" and the "Cash flow" ads.

Back in the day we said that there was nothing on after midnight.

Today, even with cable, I say that there's still basically nothing "on" between 3 AM and 6 AM in spite of paying 50 bucks a month for the service.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Man Wielding Earth Auger Attacks Leaf Blower Operator

Progress None The Less...

So we wandered back over to Home Depot after their courteous Driver dropped off a few thousand Tons Pounds of Pressure Treated Lumber this morning for the purpose of purchasing and borrowing what I call "Tools of Torture."

The First item was what is known as a "concrete" or "masonry" drill bit.

The latest item wasn't just any ordinary "concrete" or "masonry" bit... because I already own a fairly large assortment of those.

You see, since my house has a brick exterior finish on all four sides, resting against a wood frame sitting on a cinder block basement structure, and because the design elevation of my deck places it only 28" off the ground where the cinder blocks also reside, I needed a "concrete" or "masonry" bit...


And I was going to have to hold on to my Ryobi Hammer Drill while it punched its way through the rear wall of my house ...


I found the expensive thirty four dollar 18" version at first, but since I didn't think even my expansive and ever growing collection of tools needed that much funding focused in such a narrow area of home improvement capability, I settled for the 13" version costing $12.

(By the way, it punched all six holes in the wall in less than 20 minutes with about 1/8" of length to about close tolerances...)

The second item I needed I'd already owned twice before and worn out on the never ending investment property renovation in Brunswick a couple of years ago.

A Diamond Tipped "concrete" or "Masonry" saw blade designed to fit your "Skill Saw."

My recommendation is to not do this operation using your regular "Skill Saw" the cheapest "Skill Saw" you can find (be it Craftsman or Ryobi" or whatever brand) and then cut your "concrete" or "masonry" and then throw the blade along with the saw in the Dumpster when you're finished because neither will be worth anything after thirty minutes to an hour spent cutting "concrete" or "Masonry" in this manner.

Any way...they only had one blade in stock which would fit my "Skill Saw" and it was clear that the package had been opened and the idiots at the Home Depot return desk had let some ingrate not only return the blade in the open package, but the blade was clearly used and the inner "insert" or "knockout" which allowed the blade to fit on various sized saw mandrels was missing.

I took a pass on that Item (see my earlier posting on home improvement store return counters.)

Finally, it was back over to the "Tool Rental" counter where Home Depot keeps all their really expensive, dangerous stuff like pressure washers, wood floor sanders, gasoline powered "concrete" or "masonry" saws, ACME head chopper-offers, and machine guns.

I needed what they laughingly call a "One Man Auger."

I was already afraid of the machine even as I asked the clerk to allow me to rent it for their minimum time period--Four Hours--because I had rented one before about this time last year when we were first installing the fence around the Turbo Pup Compund.

My point is that I'm fairly certain that if 99% of the men of my age were to actually rent one of these machines, drove home killing 15 minutes of the allotted time, and proceeded to try to hang on to it solo (remember it's a "one man" auger") while it was in operation for the entire remaining 3-1/2 hours (allowing time to return it to the HD Rental Counter) that the return trip would involve fire trucks, paramedics, and an ambulance.

I kept my "One Man Auger" for about three hours., and part of the time it was really a "one man and one woman and one Turbo Pup auger because that's what it takes to keep it under control while drilling through eastern Tennessee's dense red clay.

I ended up holding on to my "One Man Auger" for probably ONE HOUR OF THAT TOTAL TIME.

The rest of the time was spent with me sitting in a chair in the shade while I let the "One Man Auger" bake on its side on the grass or dirt in the sun.

In summary, my tools kicked my butt today, but I got all of the "one Man Augering" and "Hammer Drilling" completed by 3 PM and three new fence posts and two new deck structure posts are happily sitting in 6" diameter, 24" deep holes as I write.

In a fit of insanity I ran around the yard drilling another three or four dozen 8" deep holes for future use to plant new bulbs and Azaleas and other stuff in but that we can't afford the time or expense to worry about within the next month.

Since I had the "One Man Auger" in my hands I figured a few extra blisters and a few more minutes of torment and fatigue out of my FOUR HOUR RENTAL couldn't hurt (much.)

I guess that I have to admit that things went pretty smoothly all and all until our substitute idiot with a leaf blower "lawn maintenance technician" showed up in the middle of the proceedings and wanted to mow my grass for the third time in fourteen days.

I relented and allowed him to cut just the front yard for a reduced price, thinking that the deal would keep him and his lawn tools out of my construction area and his flying leaf blower dust and debris off my car and carport.


I looked up in the middle of cutting the tops on some decorative fence posts and the idiot with a leaf blower "lawn maintenance technician" was happily blowing crap all over the Chrysler 300 sitting out of the way at the top of the driveway...


If I hadn't already returned that "One Man Auger" I'd have drilled that guy a couple of new super sized bodily orifices allowing him to use the restroom once a year rather than whatever schedule he currently enjoys.

Is it just me?

Lumber On Truck

Driveway Clear (For Time Being)...

Home Depot just called threatening to have my structural framing lumber here by 9AM.

I had to get up and get dressed unexpectedly--having been promised sometime today before dinnertime being their contractual obligation.

I guess I have to stop talking and writing about it and go auger new fence post and footing holes this morning and make sawdust this afternoon.

The #1 Kiln Dried pressure treated decking arrives tomorrow.

It's probably too much to expect to have the framework installed but I'm gonna try.

I could accomplish that sort of feet feat 20 years ago...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

New Party Deck

Construction Ensues...

Funny thing.

When the original owner built our present house in 1963, they put in a FRONT door and a CARPORT door, and a hidden basement door under the front porch, but oddly enough...


For the past 13 months we've relegated ourselves to walking out through the kitchen and turning the corner across the carport to the back yard Turbo Pup pool compound.

While the floor plan is typical for that period, the realtor admitted after we purchased it that only having 1-1/2 baths and no patio or deck on the building had helped us get the great deal we enjoyed because families today expect/need at least two full bathrooms and private play/entertaining space out of sight of the street.

I've been committed to upgrading the marketability of the property while at the same time improving the features for our own use while we live here in Knoxtown on the banks of the Mighty Tennessee River....thus I've designed a future rear addition which will add additional closet space and a full bath to the master bedroom, and an expansive deck serving one if not two new doors on the back of the building.

Trouble is, with the long term uncertainty of my present consulting injuneering situation we've had to postpone the rear bath addition but instead of dumping the deck plans entirely I've managed to come up with a three phase plan which allows us to build a minimum initial plan with well conceived aesthetic additions which can be added in the future as cash flow permits.

Phase I material are being ordered today, and hopefully the construction will be completed sometime in the next hundred years as it requires replacing an existing window in a brick wall with a french door and some other technical complications.

Of course I'm doing the labor myself with the aid and support of Pat and Missy the Turbo Pup.

Wish us luck...if you will...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What Happened To Summer?

Blackberry Winter Arrives In East Tennessee...

I planned to saw wood and apply paint to the finished Window Valance box structure over the past couple of days.

Of course just like last year about this time when I was cutting hinge slots and hardware holes in 5 new 6 panel doors, when it came time to smear paint the temperature dropped and the wind picked up to 30 MPH.

And right on schedule the bottom fell out of the ambient temperature again this year.

It only made it into the mid 50's yesterday and after sinking into the low 40's overnight things got back to about 63 degrees F so I could finish painting while chasing my cheap plastic drop cloths around the Carport trying to keep them off the wet paint.

It's heading into the upper 30's tonight with a chance of frost and the Weather Nerds are predicting tying or breaking the 38 deg F record set way back in 1976.

That Global Warming...she be a bitch...

Sunday, May 17, 2009

I'm Gonna Kill My Landlord Lawn Guy

And I'm Stalking Stupid People At The Home Depot Return Desk...

I swear to God that the Gas Powered Leaf Blower has to be the most annoying invention produced by man in the past half century.

They're fewer of them, but to me they're almost more annoying than loud mouthed idiots with cell phones in public places.

The reason I say this is that in the past ten days I managed to drag my lazy butt off my office chair and the dead battery out of my Suburban and over to Autozone for what has become a celebrated Bi-annual Vehicle Battery Replacement Ritual (or BAVBARR for short.)

For those of you that don't know the pleasure of buying 42 gallons of gas at one time and getting 9 MPG on the highway, the 2500 series, 3/4 Ton, 4 WD, 454 cu inch dual AC trucks like mine eat batteries for a snack--at least mine does.

After dealing with that quality bi-lingual consumer purchasing exercise where they claimed to not have my battery warranty in their computer, once I got home with the new box of lead and acid I fired up the truck and spent a half hour carefully sweeping the winter's worth of dust, leaves, and other debris out of the carport...things which never should have been allowed to accumulate but were covered by the aforementioned truck with the dead battery.

Have you ever tried to push a 6,000 pound vehicle 12 inches not to mention 24 feet over and back...even on flat ground?

It ain't happening here in Knoxtown with my middle aged spleen and liver and wimpy biceps.

So any way...

I also took advantage of a three day period when it didn't rain all day to remove the accumulated vegetative crap out the concrete portal leading into our basement. Everything but the little Wren's nest with the five eggs was removed and disposed of.

Since the completion of my spring cleaning efforts my idiot lawn guy lawn maintenance technician--being basically a slacker and also being delayed by all the rain--has decided to play catch up on our lawn (and more likely his cash flow) by mowing and blowing our grass last Saturday and then again this past Thursday.

Two cuttings in six days...go figure.

Problem is, in spite of us telling him over and over and over that I'd rather have leaves on my grass than in my ears and carport and basement portal, this gentleman insists on brandishing his leaf blower (usually while I'm trying to make a business call) while listening to music on his MP3 player and...


If it were dry and he blew any more my yard wouldn't have any grass or dirt left in it.

My house would be sitting on a dirt pedestal on top of the Granite bedrock.

And my carport and my Basement portal?

They both basically look like I haven't done any housekeeping in a couple of months. I just get out of the car and look straight ahead toward the door to keep my head from exploding.

And speaking of my head exploding, I have to bring up another situation I detest.

The return counter at Home Depot and Lowe's.

Have you seen the BS people try to get away with at a return counter? People don't want to buy tools to keep, they want to RENT tools...


Apparently people buy tools all the time, use them to make seven cuts or holes, then try to bring them back and get their money back. I saw a guy once try to bring back a big monkey wrench that had something that looked like toilet gasket wax and possibly POOP in it because he said he didn't need it.

I think he stole and and rather than going to a pawn shop since it was relatively new and still had the SKU sticker on it he just wanted the cash.

I think he ended up with a store credit.

Can you buy cheep booze or Crack Cocaine with a Home Depot store credit?

Back to today's point...this morning about 10:30, instead of attending church and pleading for our souls, I was standing in line behind a guy at home depot.

The fellow had two dozen random lengths of trim lumber that had clearly been partially used, but since Home Depot sold the lumber by the foot rather than by the piece he was there for a "RETURN."

The cashier smiled her way through the process of scanning the bar code on each piece and ENDED UP REJECTING OVER HALF THE PRODUCTS because they weren't stocked by Home Depot.

The half dozen six to seven foot sticks of dirty lumber that were Home Depot products had to be measured and fumbled over before again issuing the guy A STORE CREDIT rather than a refund.

Meanwhile I'm standing on one foot twitching and resisting the urge to grab a piece of crown moulding and impaling the guy on it. I could have killed him but instead I enjoyed the expression on his face as he walked away looking at his "IN STORE CREDIT CARD."

I return probaly between 5% and 10% of the miscellaneous crap I buy at the big box home improvement stores. I generally keep an extra board or a few feet of something if I have it left over.

99% of the stuff I return I end up buying a like item...just a different or the RIGHT item within 15 minutes of leaving the return desk.

I think that people that see the return desk as an income source or a credit card cash withdrawal mechanism should be shot...or at least forced to live and work in the Kitchen Cabinet Department or the Custom Window Department for a few months to appreciate what goes on there.

That will be all...for now...

(time to go cut lumber and apply paint)