Friday, April 22, 2005

Not Enough Detail? Me?

This is the Man-Room as of two hours ago. As most of you know already, it is my prison. Within it's spidery confines I have crafted the set of plans which will guide me through this adventure. I have this thing: I pace like a caged tiger - back and forth, back and forth - drives people nuts. But in the Man-Room it doesn't matter. So I finally got rid of the stool and jacked up the front of my drawing table so I can stand and draw. Stand and draw and pace. "Need to see more measurements," the building dept. tells me the other day. I was keeping the plans simple and elegant - Japanese style - but they didn't go for it. Wow, for the first time in my life I didn't give enough detail.

Museum of Unnatural History: Part 7

an ongoing log of the bonus items that came with my house...

Real Estate Rule of Thumb: Property value is always elevated by the presence of haunted kiddie pools. Kiddie pools hidden away in the woods are creepy enough, but when you lie awake at night imagining moonlit snarling demon kids dancing in a kiddie pool filled with human blood, it makes you want to cry yourself to sleep in Man-Diapers.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Unidentified Rotting Object (URO)

"Hey, nice thing with trap door and handles." That's what I would say if I had the honor to go back and time and walk by the property when this contraption was first built. Imagine this thing when it was BRAND NEW. How impressive it must have looked. All handle-like and trap-door-like....
... Can someone please tell me what the hell this is?

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Blasted Rocks!

Depth is in the eye of the beholder. To some this may just look like a rock. A rock that could be flipped over with a spade shovel and then harvested for its tasty supply of centipedes and earwigs. Did your mouth just water? Are you one of those run-naked-and-feed-at-night types? Good, come on over and harvest, I will recruit you into my army of ghouls. However, I look at this rock and you know what I see? Dynamite. Fucking dynamite. Because that's what I'm going to have to use on this thing if it goes as deep and wide as I think it does. I was walking around and they're everywhere, surfacing in gray humps like a Loch Ness Monster photo. Lets hope they're just big rocks that can be moved with an excavator - Or bedrock that's tame enough that it can be broken up.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Card Trick

Everyone gives me business cards, and in a week I can’t remember if I met them a week ago or a year ago, or if I like them or hate them. See, my present day self always tries to trick my future self and play pranks. I'll get a card from a subcontractor and think, "I'll remember meeting this guy, no problem. His name is Robert Janey. Bob. Bobby. He's wearing a yellow shirt. He's an electrician. He's flesh and blood, I can smell his bad breath and his eyes are blue and he's a real-life human and this is really occurring in time with witnesses and a dog barking in the background and therefore it is burned in history forever" and then a week later I find the card and think, "who the hell is Robert Janey?" I never ever remember. It's pathetic. Then one day I became a genius and now I write on the back of every card where and when I met them and I check the backs of the cards to refresh my memory. It's like that movie, Memento.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Bread and Butter

Ahh... the Full Length Roof Framer by A.F.J. Riechers (yeah, that's RIEchers not REIchers. Don't be a smart ass and try to trace the German spelling and prove that it should be Reichers like some kid already tried to do to me when I told him about it) And Yes - it really is that small. Back pocket action. Although I have a bunch of construction book recommendations, this particular one is really is not for the general masses, because it's really just a big list of rafter lengths according to pitch, span and type with some instruction on roof framing in the intro. I'll be using this book all the time when I start framing the roof. I used it just a week ago when I was consulting about a blueprint takeoff to decide what length rafter stock I needed. The book is old school - trusted companion to carpenters since 1917. That was when carpenters had one giant arm like a fiddler crab from swinging a hammer and ripping wood with a hand saw all day. Those old timers must be turning in their graves when we bitch about our high-tech nail guns and circular saws -- "The new foam grip on the Senco is giving me a blister inside my palm, Jesus, can't they get it right? Hey, Barry, could you pass the cottage cheese and lowfat ricecakes?"

Monday, April 11, 2005

Museum of Unnatural History: Part 6

An ongoing log of the "bonus items" that came with my house...

This is without a doubt the rarest find ever that I have ever found ever. Can you believe it? - an ACTUAL PREHISTORIC SEA LION SKELETON. Fully intact. And I own it. Just a stunning discovery. Scientists have been theorizing for decades about the giant saltwater rivers that used to run all over Massachusetts five hundred pentaquadzillion years ago, and now I found proof that not only did those huge rivers exist, but they were, indeed, teeming with the shy and elusive Marsupial Sea Lion or, as it is affectionately known as on the third floor of Harvard's Ancient Studies wing: "The River Yeti."

Sunday, April 10, 2005

"Holy Quick Fix, Batman!"

Bathroom plaster unsightly and crumbling? Need a temporary fix until you renovate? Do like my girl did and wallpaper over it with comic books. Get them at tag sales for a nickel a piece and go nuts. Just make sure you're not playing cut-and-paste with Fantastic Four #1 or something. If you can't afford used comic books, then use newspapers. If you can't afford used newspapers then ... I don't know what to tell you. You got major problems.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Garage Gets Extension on Life

Don't be fooled by the photo. My garage may look cutesy "ye olden tyme" rustic, but it's really a rotting dank shanty house that smells like burnt mouse heads, spent motor oil, and steaming cat shit. There was a time way back when I was considering pouring both the addition foundation and the new garage foundation at the same time, but I scrapped it for money and time reasons. It's common to break up the pours like that actually. Oftentimes because of space issues - can't always have two giant holes next to eachother or the diggers and trucks have no way to get into the back and nowhere to put all the fill. Mixers can't get back, so you have to have hire a pump to sit in the front yard and boom over the house, and that's another 700 bucks -- there can be a bunch of reasons. It varies job to job, of course. With me, I just don't have the lettuce to do both right now. I don't want to be in a situation where I can't afford a plasterer on the main house because the cash is tied up in the garage foundation, know what I mean?

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Trowel Movement

This is me troweling a freshly poured footing. Rough on the left. Smooth on the right. Any questions? Good, now we'll study "how to take out the garbage."
No, no, no still not my house, dammit. Pretty straightforward this work. Like making a cake. Pour the batter in, let it bake, and presto! - a foundation! Someone asked me if this work is difficult. I thought about it, and no, for the most part residential foundations are not that difficult (unless you get into a really weird shape or dicey conditions). It's back-breaking, but it's not difficult. I think tricky is a better word. It's definitely tricky. The layout, the assembly, the steel. To me tricky means that out of the 50 things that you have to remember during the process, not a single one is difficult, but if you forget one of those fifty things or ignore one, you fucked everything up. And it's not like my mistakes doing carpentry where I pull some nails for a morning and rebuild it. When you botch concrete layout, you could be stuck with an 80 ton mistake. We're talking jackhammers, excavators and dump trucks fixing your stupid mistake for a week. You feel like a total retard - like the time I was working at a deli counter as a teenager and I asked a fat lady when she was expecting and she wasn't.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Museum of Unnatural History: Part 5

An ongoing log of the “Bonus Items” that came with my house...

This pleasant addition to the Museum of Unnatural History is missing its eyes and both its forelegs. So cute! The arrow holes in the chest and neck give you that warm fuzzy eggnogy feeling. Makes we want to have a whole giant army of life-size foam humans. I could crowd them together in the backyard, stand on the top of my van, and yell commands to them through an orange safety cone like I’m their king. “Rise, young Foamulans! Mount your StyroSteeds and rise up AGAINST YOUR OPPRESSOR!!!... Oh wait, that's me. Scratch that. Uh... rise and... go get me some barbeque.”

Friday, April 01, 2005

Another One Down!

Doing a home renovation is like being Bruce Lee in "Game of Death." Faking your own death and getting fitted for a bumble-bee-colored race car suit are not crucial parts of the initial stages, but that's up to you. There's this giant Chinese temple and you got to waste each dude on each level with LIGHTNING QUICK!-HITE! HITE! HITE! Jeet Kune Do moves. One by one you paint the bamboo floors with enemies' sorry-ass blood and move up until you are the martial arts master and have exacted revenge on the underworld that has wronged you. Yesterday, I got past the first level with hardly a scratch. The new structural plans came back from the engineered lumber supplier with all the calculations, and I met with my guy and we went over every detail. All I gotta do is make adjustments to some of the other drawings, and then I'm ready to battle the next guy: The Building Dept. And those guys know crazy karate moves and will have you in a choke hold and eagle-claw your eyes out in seconds, but I will reverse! Double thumbs to the ears! Praying Mantis HITE! HITE! to the nose!! And WATTAAAA! SPIN KICK! How's your larynx, SUCKA!!