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Archive for July, 2008

Some Recent Photos of Interest

Monday, July 28, 2008

Holy Eyesore!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Our poor neighbors. We spent most of last week gutting the house. Taking everything that wasn’t holding a wall up and tearing it out. Note the very large and very obsolete satellite dish on the left edge of the frame. That came off the roof. And I’m still alive! Next to it is concrete from the back porch. The lower right contains drywall. Upper right is unpainted wood. Those four things are actually recyclable. All metal can be recycled, so were gonna tear that sink out of it’s melamine casing and put that in the scrap pile. See the volkswagon over there? We sold it to our neighbors Joe and Sari, who live on 48th ave. They’re gonna fix it up. Yay! All this stuff that we thought was junk is actually going to have another life. The metal will become iPhones. The wood will end up as eco-toilet paper. The concrete will end up thickening Jamba Juices. The VW will become another VW – just with every single part replaced. 

This is what you get when you turn a house inside out.

This is what you get when you turn a house inside out.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Yes. We have begun to labor. As in actual physical labor. Over the last two days we have torn down the old shack and gone toe-to-toe with the blackberry bushes (again). 

The shack was built on a dirt foundation. It was completely eaten by termites and it had about seven layers of roofing. Structurally it was comprised of old 2x4s, randomly spaced between 2 and 3 feet apart. Then it was clad in tongue-and-groove siding. Then it was clad in wood shingles. Inside, someone had drywalled it and then poured an uneven foundation into the interior. It was not difficult to take this building down. I feel after this small endeavor that I know a little bit more about what holds a building together. Long nails and any sort of sheathing. A stick frame of 2x4s is structurally worthless. It isn’t until you throw plywood or some sort of sheathing along the outside that you gain any strength. And if you hammer that in with nice long nails, you’re gonna have a helluva time undoing it. 

After much deliberation, and the kind advice of our landscaper friends, we went chemical and sprayed RoundUp™ made by MiracleGro, owned by Monsanto. These nice folks are the leading producer of genetically modified seed and employers to many hardworking children in India. We sprayed this stuff on our flourishing blackberry bushes and the leaves started turning black within an hour. Obtaining instant gratification like that is some crazy magic business and it seems waaaaay too good to be legal. 

Tomorrow we plan to rip all the drywall out of the house and load a big truck with what used to be the shack. Friday we’re gonna try to move the volkswagon out of the back yard and into the street with a FOR SALE CHEAP sign. We’re trying to get a dude with a Bobcat to come out on Monday to grade the back yard so we can start digging the foundation for the new & improved shed.

Meetings, Meetings

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Lots of news. We had our first official meeting with the city last week. We presented our plans to the Architectural and Site Planning Committee of the great City of Capitola. We sat nervously in some bendy plastic chairs while other folks presented their plans. The board is comprised of an architect, an historian, a landscape architect, a public works official, a building dept official and a planning dept official. Notices have been sent to the neighbors announcing this meeting and offering an opportunity to voice complaint. At this particular meeting nobody’s neighbors chose to attend. The first people to present seemed rather chummy with the board. They had one of those schizophrenic tudor/victorian/tuscany designs that was two-and-a-half stories tall with numerous gables and a roofline that looked like a turbulent stock market graph. Everyone seemed to like it. The historian thought it was sad to tear down the nice small existing house, but grudgingly acknowledged the inevitability of progress. That gave me hope and some consolation. The board praised these presenters for their well documented plans and agreed that their professionalism was making the project move very smoothly through the bowels of the city bureaucracy. My heart sank at this point, since I knew that our plans, printed on our laser printer at home, and with at least three mistakes that I thought of as we drove to the meeting, would not be greeted so warmly. 

Our turn came quickly. The architect wordlessly gave us the thumbs up. No praise, but no criticism either. The historian noted that no famous Capitolan had ever lived there and to my surprise noted that the house held no value as an architectural prize. What about the fact that the house seems to have been built from completely found materials? Doesn’t that merit a green ribbon at least? She was pleased that we weren’t building a McMansion and that the modest size of the house was appropriate for the neighborhood. Everyone concurred. I was kind of proud at first. Then I thought that maybe this was veiled criticism: Perhaps they were just stroking us for keeping the scope to a minimum given our lack of credentials. The landscape architect was impressed with Kari’s drawings and offered some helpful suggestions. It was here that we got the planning dept official to let us shrink the size of the driveway surface to allow for a walkway to the curb. This was very good news indeed. 

The public works official was on vacation, but we were informed that we would need to install a sidewalk and run our electricity underground. Those few seconds of information will cost us thousands of dollars. But it will make the street nicer, so I’m happy to comply. 

The planning and building officials asked us for more details in certain areas of the plans. They have been extremely nice to us and Kari and I feel very lucky to be working with them. Since the inception of this project, every knowledgeable person I’ve talked to has warned me to keep my guard up against the city officials. But these folks at Capitola city hall have been nothing but patient, helpful and informative. 

We will be resubmitting our plans for the August 7th Planning Commission meeting. If I can get the building plans done before then then, and if everything is approved as expected, then we should begin demolition shortly after that meeting.

Was It Us?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Our home loan was acquired from IndyMac bank in late May. On July 2nd, IndyMac sold our loan off to Chase Bank. Days later, on July 12th IndyMac fell under receivership of the FDIC. In other words they went belly up. Sometime in June, Senator Charles Schumer wrote a public letter criticizing the risky lending standards of said institution, prompting a run on the bank over the next week amounting to about 1.3 billion dollars. Whoops. I feel a small amount of pride in knowing that somehow my risky lifestyle, my cavalier approach to personal finance, has brought a goliath to its knees. Yes, it’s loans to people like me, freelance people, stated income people, people of negligible net worth, that has thrown a pebble into the massive machinery of the American mortgage securities industry. It has nothing to do with expert financiers over-leveraging their assets nor the pliant Fed liberally them bailing out when the margin calls come. Read all about the IndyMac failure in this NY Times article.

Well, The Surf Is Good

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

We’ve been progressing on the house plans, the details of which I’ll explain in the next post, but in the mean time, the surf has been unusually good for summertime. A couple of weeks ago I broke the board I poached from Scott. Riding our bikes home from that session, I told Bert that I was going to go to Craigslist and buy a replacement board. He was aghast. Why on earth would I buy a board when we can make a perfectly good one ourselves in a couple hours? Of course Bert wouldn’t take no for an answer and soon we were stuffed in his shaping room, inhaling cancer dust, making the new board. Actually, we weren’t making anything. It was all Bert and it was utter magic. In ninety minutes he transformed a shapeless blank into a sleek 6-6 thruster. I was completely amazed at his effortless artisanship. He uses a few tools to mark out the general shape and then basically freeforms the whole thing. I should’ve made a video and then time-lapsed it, but instead I have these crappy pictures. 

After shaping it, Bert told me I needed to paint it. He showed me how to use his airbrush and I practiced (woefully) on a junk piece of foam. Then I came up with a little design that Bert termed “gay” and went about masking and painting it onto the board. All throughout this (and much to Kari’s chagrin, because it took away from house plan time) I was working on a new Bert logo. He calls his shaping endeavor Progression Surfboards, but everyone else refers to them as Bert Boards. So he finally caved in and decided to make a Bert Boards logo. Scott thought it should just be “Bert Board”, singular, since that’s what the logo will be sitting on, and we all thought that was clever. 

Here’s a few photos of the board being made, the sweet (aka gay) paintjob and the new Bert logo. 


Sunday, July 6, 2008

I accidentally wiped our blog’s database this weekend. Luckily, Google caches old pages, so I was able to recover the content of the old articles. I’ll be reinserting them into the blog first chance I get. I’ll probably try to wrap a redesign in there too.