fj: (Default)
So I guess the country song of a year continues: now my trailer has been washed away by a tornado.

Ok, it is not that bad. But due to massive turmoil and exhaustion, my neighbor upstairs fell asleep with the bath running, and we found out the overflow doesn't have the capacity to handle the flow of water when the faucets are wide open. I found this out by email from my neighbor below, Tess, to tell me the bathroom and bedroom in her apartment were flooded, and was I still out of state? Oh, I was, so I called another neighbor, Cidney, to knock on my neighbor next door's door. He, David, is the owner of the kitten that visits every time we both prop our doors open, and he has a spare key to my place, but I did not have his number. David called me back to tell me he had already let the emergency people with the water vacuum cleaners in, and I had no great flood nor cosmetic damage. It all looks ok.

And now that I am home I can say that he is right, and the drywall will dry out and the ceiling will dry out. Unfortunately, the insulation inside the drywall will not, and I have to replace it or have a disclosure issue on my hand now that this property is on the market. The contractors are ready to go, in fact they wanted to drill holes in the wall today while I was still gone to survey the damage, but David would not let them do that until I was there myself. Which was excellent of him because I have a showing to an interested party tomorrow.

Ugh. It means taking a drywall panel out lengthwise along the wall, putting new insulation in, patching the thing back. While The Loft is on the market, about to enter a busier season as the new year starts. And no matter how little time a contractor says it takes, every contractor I have ever dealt with has blown right through his timeline. I cannot show this place for top dollar while there is a gaping hole in the wall.

I will talk to my neighbors tomorrow, call the contractor, call the broker (who is on holiday), and see how to proceed. But I really, really, really did not need this complication, and as much as the upstairs neighbor wants to put things right and her insurance will cut checks, considering not money but timing and scheduling are the major issues, there is nothing she can actually do.
fj: (Default)

I've had to be cabinet-maker, carpenter, buider, electrician, and plumber for the venting ducts for this one, but they are now all up, and I get to hide all my flatware, glassware, and other visual distractions.

Makeover... )
fj: (Default)
Anything that involves drilling into the concrete parts of my domicile -- like the 11 foot high ceilings -- counts as a major project, even if it can be finished in 30 minutes. It is a dreadful thirty minutes, balancing with a vacuum-cleaner hose and a heavy drill on the top of a tall ladder, using every core and other muscle I have to push that fucking hammer-drill, pounding against my joints, into the fucking ceiling. Then I need the drill again to turn the anchor into the hole. Of course, hanging up four cabinets with seven glass doors and a hood that requires sawing custom holes into the cabinet counts as a major project too.

Well, I think I have done all the ones I can do myself now but one. It involves taking down the curtains off the tracks so I can re-attach a small part of the track to the ceiling, straightening it out against the other tracks so the curtains will fully open. The curtain guy simply never came back to fix this a year ago, and we stopped calling. Now I have done so much myself I think I can do this too. Of course, again, this track is in the ceiling 11 feet off the ground, and the one curtain I have to take down for it is, what, 9 feet tall and 10 feet wide? Made of heavy cloth and a light-blocking backing? In any case, it's one heavy mofo to handle. But when I do, the big things are done, done, done. It's just a little painting, patching, and getting some shelves cut to fit around the duct in the cabinet properly.

I keep being in situations where I think "You know, this would be a really bad moment for a major earthquake."
fj: (phkl)
In an effort to both be cheap and stay with the industrial look, the builder who ddi the retrofit of this office building into lofts used an alarming amount of fluorescent fixtures. Two in the kitchen area, one in the bathroom. I have removed and replaced one for halogens pointing up. But in the other two, I have made a change that has had the most impact in changing the look of this place for the buck: taking out the tube rated "cool" and replacing it with a tube rated "warm" or "soft warm".

Skin tones look great, food looks delicious, the icky green hues in the lights are gone, and getting these tubes at Home Depot costs between 7 and 5 dollars. If you have any fluorescent fixtures in your home, check if you can replace the tube, and then do so, even if it is still working. Beautoful light makes living so much better.
fj: (Default)
If you think your kitchen looks like a wreck, wait until I post a pic of what mine looks like right now. I took the cabinet and open shelving and microwave / hood above my sink and stove down to replace the visual mess with something sleeker. I only got halfway: taking everything down, and installing the new hood (Whirlpool for IKEA Luftig) into the cabinet to be hung up. This involved sawing a hole in the cabinet floor to fit stuff in, and adding filler wood and whatever. Of course it didn't go as planned, and I am improvising like crazy. I hate the hardware world.

This did lead to an interesting rediscovery: everything was attached into the drywall with 4" or so screws without anchor plugs. The screws seem to have been screwed directly into the drywall, and no, not into the studs behind the drywall either. Just the drywall, which, incidentally, is double thickness and supported by metal studs 20" apart. Yet everything was just hanging off these screws. This included shelves with all my dishware. I didn't know you could do that, fasten hanging objects to drywall without drilling holes first for anchors.

I don't trust it. I am drilling anchors tomorrow when I hang the rail to hang the new cabinets from. Well, Friday.
fj: (Default)
I want to clear up the mistaken impression that all I do is sit on my ass and have kittens lick me. First of all, since I skipped the gym Friday I did manage to make up for it yesterday and today. Yesterday I also picked up [ profile] epilady from attending a student fashion show in Glendale, to spend the rest of the day with her and [ profile] chestertodd in Santa Monica. I over-braked only twice during the trip and she was quite graceful about it, Then we had Build Your Own burgers and spent time watching art being made on Pico Place, after which I promptly fell asleep on their couch. I think the week had gotten to me.

But this weekend, over two days, I also managed to do the most difficult and tricky of all the scheduled painting without dripping paint anywhere; the conduits for the new electrical work for the blinds and the chandelier now match the ceiling color, thus recede visually. All the big painting I can do myself is now done. In fact, I think all the minor projects I can do myself are now all done, so unless I want to start on ripping out the 'original' kitchen cabinet and shelves, this may be it for DIY now. Then again, I should rip them out and replace that mish-mash for something sleek. Oh sigh, I am so over this manual stuff. I think I will do the beach. Or confront my resume and job search first. I can't keep avoiding it. I bet all the good jobs at Disney have now been taken by my colleagues. I wonder if this was all a big subconcious ploy to avoid transitioning to another job inside Disney.

Tonight I settled down to finally watch a movie. I made my late-night protein shake with a drink mix of molten chocolate, which I bought as a treat for Sundays but never get around to actually using. I borrowed the kitten from next door, which I am watching this weekend since the owners are at a wedding. I stretched out on my couch which I have now configured to be an enormous movie-watching lounging pit. I queued up 28 Days Later, which I always wanted to see. 90 minutes afterwards my drink is gone, the kitten is still sucking my ear, and the lone survivors of the plague are about to enter the military compound and I know where this is going, and I don't want to be jostled anymore by a derivative story shot half-heartedly which at this point feels the need to go into the issue of the inhumanity of humankind, an overdone standard plot element of post-apocalyptic movies. I switch it off, look up the movie on Wikipedia, and confirm it would go where I thought it would and I had no desire to experience. Now I am wondering if I am withdrawing from media even more.

As mentioned in comments, it seems that indeed even without a cable box I still get basic cable from the cable outlet, something the TiVo seems able to deal with just fine. And infomercials seem to be part of basic cable. I may have something to watch after all.*

Also, I have deided to stop worrying about staying awake till 2 AM. Just means I'll wake up at 10. I can do that now. I should enjoy it. It need to keep reminding myself that this is the most free time I have had in 10 years or so, and I managed to fill it up with projects all the way. I need to take an actual frickin break.

* I may not have mentioned this recently, so new readers may not be aware of this trait of mine: I like watching infomercials. Not all of them, I have my preferences, but I do enjoy having them on. Mainly because life is beautiful and perfect on them, and when something gets you down and you think "There must be a better way!" it turns out there actually is. And that is wonderful.
fj: (Default)
So let's see: applied for new insurance, installed light next to the bed, reconfigured headboard, put down a phone cord so I have the local phone (no long distance plan, no voice mail, pretty much for doorbell / 911 only) next to the bed, two cute shelves in the bathroom, finished the vanity countertop, replaced the fluorescent tubes in the bathroom (CIR around 75, I bet) with Soft Warm fluorescent tubes (CIR 85) -- still not happy, should try a Daylight tube (CIR 95?), but it is way cheaper than installing new lights -- organized all towels in baskets, painted and sealed the grayed out sad grout on the bathroom floor white. That last bit involved putting this product with a small painter's brush on the grout, giving it 45 mins to dry, and then scraping the product off the tiles next to the grout. This took 5 hours over two days, and every time I stood up afterwards I could not stand up straight, my back was so stiff and painful.

Still not finished, and I think I am doing all this not just to maybe stage the house, but to avoid watching TV all day or going to the beach and realizing I am jobless. No, if I keep busy I am too busy to go on monster and look for jobs, and I am on payroll till the 26th anyway. I wonder if all my former teammates -- animators, illustrators, art directors, designers -- are working again already. I bet they are.

Can't even do that loafing while watching Oprah, as jobless loafing should be done properly, because yesterday I called Time Warner and ended my cable subscription. Yes, I did. I have a week to return the Cable Box, and maybe I'll switch to rabbit ears to catch the last of the analog broadcasts, assuming they come through this building at all (I am on the south side, all transmitters are north). I am not sure how to tell the TiVo.
fj: (bqw)
I bronzed a wall yesterday, and rescued a botch-job of an attempt at staining a vanity counter-top that obviously is not concrete with concrete stain by doing a faux-finish with a pearlizing gloss I had left-over in the paints closet. I am bout to go to IKEA and the Container Store, and then have dinner in West Hollywood.

Does anyone here need confirmation about which stereotype I am following? Are we unclear on any subject here?
fj: (health)
After almost a year of working out with Ray, first one day a week (shoulders), then twice a week (shoulders, chest) until now I can tolerate more pain and exertion, I have allowed him to switch to (legs, chest / shoulders). Second time we have worked my legs together, and I was unable to walk normally out of the gym.

Then I spent the day painting: another color test, color conformed; staining stone sink cabinet surface test, inconclusive; painting two coats on two walls in bathroom two shades whiter, needs touch-up after removing masking tape; installed track lights in ceiling, may need to be moved 1/2 inch -- and all the shopping that goes with that.

IN short, I should be falling over with sleep. I can't sleep. I went on to Digg and found another article about sound financial strategies to stay middle class, and came across descriptions of IRAs. I decided to read those.

Now I should really be sleepy. Except I find them fascinating. Roth IRAs seem to be designed to thwart ever becoming more than middle-class with that financial instrument, and is almost useless for what is middle class in NYC, SF, LA, SD.
fj: (phkl)
This week is Painting Week at The Loft. Just taking care of a lot of things I wanted in a new color.

These days, on makeover shows, when people say they want a sophisticated chic glamorous bedroom, the designer says "Ok!" and responds with a room looking like a very well-appointed Mariott. Even high-end design media succumb to it, more often than not the latest Design Inspiration rooms look like a W suite. Or actually is one.

Today, thanks to the new fashion of making small pots of paint available as samples, I did some color tests on a massive concrete wall in my bed area, next to the front door. Tried two finishing products over the sample. I have this vision, this idea that I need to get out of my head and on to my wall. And even though the color I sampled is wrong -- too red -- it has become apparent that what my vision will look like when executed.

I am not sure if I am actually staging The Loft for a sale right now or not. I just know I want to do this. I was talking to my neighbor David, one of the two humans soon to be owned by the kitten you saw previously -- kitten needs to first learn to own its tail, then the humans -- about what I am going to do and why I am still thinking about improvements. David is a stage actor, used to work in London and New York. Now he is here and the only parts available for men his age are not on stage but in film or TV, and are stalked by aging actors far more famous than he is, who all get increasingly desperate as with every year the parts available to them are fewer and fewer. David's given up and is thinking about getting his contractor license, I tell him that's the wrong order to do these careers... So why do I paint and think of moving walls? "You just want to see it through," he says, "see it finished." He's right.

But I am a little worried about my own eye right now; it seems that what I am doing to my enormous bedroom / front door wall is not so much Upscale Hotel Room but more Swanky Hip Club.

Still, I want to see it done, see it through. See it on Apartment Therapy.
fj: (Default)
Didn't leave the loft all day, except to fetch Oliver a couple of times when he started enjoying his own echo in the hallway a bit too much. Did install some extra lights above the closet. Took care of loose ends, but not enough. Had some food. Still wonder if I should take up Allstate on their earthquake insurance offer.

And finally tried out the Amazon / TiVo cooperation called 'Unbox' where you can order a movie from your account on Amazon (or on your TiVo if you told Amazon what your credit card is) and rent or buy a movie and have it uploaded to your TiVo. I'd never buy that way, because I'd want to offload it off my disk and burn and back-up and I bet that is a pain, but rental seems ok. They had a special on "Happy Feet", which I have always wanted to see, for $.99. ([ profile] jpeace says that won't even cover flipping the bit on the database row at Amazon, but I think he's wrong -- I bet it is at&t who is paying the most having those bits delivered to my home).

The integration is spiffy and spooky: buy something here, have it appear there. I could order a movie at work and have it on the box when I come home. The picture quality is excellent on my standard television, and although the sound alas does not seem to be encoded in some 5.1 or more dedicated standard, the quality of the signal does allow my receiver to interpret the standard broadcast Dolby (Faux-encoded) Surround quite lavishly, exercising my modest investment in home theater nicely (two subwoofers rumbling hard, woo-hoo).

And Happy Feet is a glorious little movie. As [ profile] nanne said, you expect one movie and it turns into another one halfway, and then it goes back, and then you realize the whole movie is built around leading up to the words of the bridge of a Prince song.

Which really, every movie should aspire to.
fj: (talking)
fj: (Default)

Overview With Pillar
"Kitchen Build Out (Set)", 2007, Los Angeles County, Nokia N73

Well, amateur shelter/design porn. Here's the first set of one of the major structures created in the loft. I really like the results, and this is the first I want to show. Martin will adjust the position of the blind slightly and paint a white seam charcoal, and I am having the electricians install low-voltage halogen uplights above the new structure connected to a dimmer, but this is what it looks like where there used to be just a wall. More explanations under the photographs.
fj: (phkl)
In the division of furniture, Dean got two of the bookcases since he, well, has books. I needed the ones I had left to hold equipment in the office area, so I had no separation between the hallway and the sleeping area here in the loft. I went to IKEA and bought their panel curtain system, and went to town. I have something like 60 fabric stores in the surrounding 5 blocks after all.

This is the view as you walk in:

Of course there were snags... )
fj: (Default)
While walking to the bus I found an Allen wrench in a random pocket in my pants.

Also, lolcode is making my day.
fj: (Default)
Normal tables won't do when the proportions of the space are so different. In Boston we had a dinner table made from two table stands and a custom cut piece of sandblasted glass that was 3 feet by 6 feet. In The Loft, that large dinner table that sat an ample 6, basically disappeared.

Finding a table that would fit the space, i.e. be ten feet longer or more, always ended up with around 1500 dollars worth of table, added shipping costs, and getting rid of the sandblasted glass. Instead, I went creative and found two tables at West Elm, an exact 3 feet by 3 feet of solid wood. They were not cheap, but at about half including shipping of having a whole big table, they would do.

Then I got to work )

And oh yeah, don't try to move this table just by grabbing one end and pulling or pushing. You'll end up with very much glass on the floor, if you can make one of the end tables budge at all. The sucker's heavy.
fj: (phkl)
Thank you all for your best wishes on my birthday, they have been quite appreciated.

I spent last weekend ordering and putting 10 feet long of 9 feet high IKEA closets together -- had to cancel my personal training session Monday because of that, no way I would be able to train shoulders -- and today I got to put some drawers and hangers in to free up some furniture for Dean to take to Oakland. It is going to be quite the closet for a man alone.

The whole experience has made me believe that if we had three arms, we would make construction tools and systems that require four.
fj: (Default)
My High School years were spent in the upper middle class part of a town right outside Arnhem, a city in the middle of The Netherlands. We lived in a detached 3-story house, probably built in the thirties or forties. And we had a Cheese Guy. He'd come by every Wednesday in his minivan, ring the doorbell, take an order (two dozen eggs, half of a ball of aged Edammer, a quarter wheel or so standard Goudse), go to the van to get it, come back, get paid, and be off. We did this week after week, year after year. The question might be why my Mom did; she went to the supermarket often enough to get cheaper cheese and eggs, and as a mother of four in an expensive house she was deeply fond of economizing: our chocolade hagelslag was always the store-brand, so cheaply made it wasn't even legally allowed to all itself chocolate. (Why this did not get us kicked out of our show-off neighborhood, I can only fathom is because my whole family fit in so well otherwise in the tennis-club and society. My mom turned this kind of selective cheap chic into a badge of honor among her friends.)

The answer was in something that she one day said on that topic of managing a relationship with the Cheese Guy: during the Winter of Starvation in 1944, when the northern part of The Netherlands had not been liberated from Nazi occupation and was going through worse hunger than ever in the preceding 4 years, it was the previous and ongoing relationships with tradespeople and suppliers -- in this case the farmers outside of town the children had to bicycle to on wooden tires -- that would create the circumstances that would give a hungering family a break. Another egg. A tiny bit more of milk. Any food at all, even if it had to be travelled miles for.

And it worked out in present day as well: on days that my mother did not open the door beause she was deep in her nap -- she went to bed for a short nap every afternoon since she became a stay-at-home wife after her marriage -- and no kids were home, the Cheese Guy would just leave our order in the garage, with a note that he would collect payment next week. After some years of occasionally having to do that, and only very occasionally since my Mom preferred someone was home to deal with him, he didn't even bother with the note. Also, as an Executive's Wife she entertained -- a lot -- and she worked with him to develop an almost signature collection of specialty cheeses to serve after dinner based on her tastes and his recommendations. This too came to the point that she would just mention there would be a party next week, so he could be prepared for when he came by next week, and the specialty cheeses would end up in the garage in the box with the standard order if I had forgotten it was Wednesday which was his day to come by and I had already gone to the library, where I spent my life. I am now realizing that we lived in a neighborhood where we left the garage unlocked by day.

The point to this is that her attitudes have shaped mine towards tradespeople. I want them to love me as a client. I want them to be happy to walk through my door and feel they want to do the best job for me. I have a carpenter right now, a friend of a friend, turning into my friend. That's a pitfall in itself, having a contractor who is also a friend, but fortunately I love his obsessively perfectionistmeticulous work. So say I need another thing done, which I do. I fully intend to stay in this loft, but even if I do not, that just means this place needs to look even better for a sale. This utter craftsman (be kind about the website, the editorial text is not finished) writes me a quote. I know where this guy lives, he is in a relationship with one of my local friends here, which is how I got him. He has proven himself as a contractor who shows up -- in between acting jobs, he finally got his SAG card -- and, get this, home-remodeling veterans, finishes the job. I thought I was doing a FOAF a favor with a carpentry gig, turns out the man had a practice in New York doing set construction for high-end magazine shoots and 6-figure Park Avenue remodels, and he came to LA to have a new life which is why I get him as he starts out in new careers.

He writes me a quote for this latest thing, asks for 50% upfront. I know most of that goes to materials, so I write the 100% amount check, just to get that money off my books, and know what my budget is without future surprises. Off, gone, no worries. This makes me an 'awesome client'. I understand why, but am still baffled.

In the grand scheme of real estate and remodeling, it is a minor amount, two days of work. He tells me the big jobs sometimes were awful, awful, awful about paying for his hard work. I don't get that. Good craftsmen and contractors, who show up, sober, and work, are hard to find, as I learned during The Great Fenway Bathroom Remodel (a.ka. Those 2.5 Months Were The Longest 4 Weeks Of My Life). Masterful guys who listen to what you want, design, and then execute, are even more rare. So rare that Apartment Therapy is devoting a whole blog post to the one guy in New York City who seems to qualify. Who the hell would treat a guy like that poorly? Who the hell would treat someone who is doing repeat gigs in your house, and doing them well, poorly?

It's not just that my carpenter is a cool guy (we end up at the same parties for example). It's that you never know when the war hits, whatever war it is, and you need a little more, a little extra, just a small break. Or just keep the good work coming.
fj: (Default)
Over the phone:
"Hi, you don't sell Frazee paints, do you?"
-- "No, but we can match the colors."
"Can I bring in the color name and number."
--"Yeah, which one?"
"748 Swiss Coffee"
--"Yeah we can match that."

In the store:
"I need a match to Frazee 748 Swiss Coffee"
--"Did you bring in a sample?"
"No, I was told over the phone you could match it by number."
--"Oh ok, let me look for it ... maybe the chart is here ... hold on a sec..."

Three people are consulted

--"We can't seem to find the chart for thet color anywhere, let me check with him..."

Goes to other guy, other guy says four words.

--"So how do you want it."
"Uh, flat finish, one gallon?"
--"Ok, let me write that down..."
"So you found the formula?"
--"No, he knew it"
scribble scribble scribble
"Wait, that man knows Frazee color formulas by heart?"
--"Not all, but Swiss Coffee is very common."

Five minutes, hands me the can

--"So you guys still working on that loft?"
(Wait, he recognizes me?) "Well, we can only do work on weekends."
--"Ah yeah, I get that, tomorrow is my day off and I have to do everything in one day."
"Uh, good luck with that."
Standard goobye formula.

Back home:
Apply. It doesn't match. Maybe I didn't stirr enough wwhich I skimped on since it was blended yesterday. Or the builder wrote down another color than was actually used on these walls. Or someone got the formula wrong.
fj: (tech)
So tonight I try to pull the foil of a new tub of protein and the tab breaks off. And, I swear this is true and totally spontaneous, I go "Don't fuck with me, you piece of crap, I am a guy who does his own plumbing!", attacked the foil with a knife, and was victorious.

Because, oh yeah, I did my own plumbing yesterday. [ profile] pinkfish, IMing me from DC, already wondered if we could temp rig something by using duct tape and sealer and what not. So I sit down and I try to hold the broken join under the sink together, and it just won't stick. Then I look again and realize it isn't really broken. Sure the joint is in two, but there was no tearing of metal or shearing or sharp edges or anything, just one pipe that seems like it should fit in the cuff of another pipe but simply does not want to stay there. I call Dean and try to get any info about what handy people do in situations like these -- after all, he is midwestern and helped his Dad fix cars -- but he is stumped.

I look again and think to myself how mass production construction systems these days are built to be assembled by morons, because, let's face it, at some point it just might, might, might happen, however remote a chance, that one of the many contractors who uses this kind of stuff just might be one. There's a ring on top of the cuff on the pipe. I am sure that it comes off with one of those plier-like thingies to grab things with. I try, and it does screw off. And this ring slips on the other pipe, and has a rubber washer. This is just a simple cuff-and-ring system like a garden hose has. It's just that it came off the pipe it was supposed to join to the cuff, somehow. I assemble it properly, using a huge amount of epoxy sealer we had lying around, and prop the whole thing up with some container of something. I let it dry overnight. I just ran the dishwasher, and it seems our plumbing crisis is over.

Also, [ profile] melanie needs to market her awesome sugar scrub as a Manly post-DIY cleaner for the Manly Holistic Man Who Has A Woman To Please And She Likes Soft Hands And No Dumping Of Chemicals. Because my hands are covered in epoxy sealer and I am trying to wash it off with something, in the bathroom, grabbing soap, and more soap, and shaving cream, and after shave, and some oil -- yes, I would have tried mayonaisse, peanut butter, and olive oil next had I been in the kitchen -- and notice the only thing that is doing anything to clean my hands is using friction. I frantically open the scrub jar and use a dollop and my hands get scrubbed clean while they are conditioned by essential oils. But a jar is the wrong form factor. It needs to be a soap, I think. A flat one, shaped like a chocolate bar, so you can break little squares off after you tear off a bit more foil. That would be a post-DIY Scrub Soap For Raging Homos.

Also, in case anyone cares, we got email back from our electricians, the only contractors so far who have seemed clued in and have peeked behind the curtaindouble drywall. We got metal studs, they are 24" apart, and the electricians have pinpointed the location of one to start with. Oooof. Those aren't strong at all for hanging things. I looked them up, and all DIY sites recommend different ways to hang things, and most of them basically come down to 'ignore they are there, use huge drywall anchors, and pray'.

Christ, Google is making me a credible handyman. Is there nothing that site can't do?

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