Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Look Ahead

I cannot help as the year draws to a close to reflect on the future. I've done blogs before on hope, an emotion and quality that is possibly humanity's most important. We need to hope as without it life would be unbearable. The march into 2010 is proceeded by a particularly difficult year for Americans and others abroad. Financially speaking, never has the middle class fell so far, so fast. Perhaps we will learn to apply the advice of Henry David Thoreau urging us to set priorities, warning that “Our life is frittered away by detail...Simplify, simplify.” These words ring true as people struggle to pay their mortgages and learn to save while cutting their thirst for material wealth.

As I look ahead at my upcoming year I think of Lincoln's poignant words: “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” He also said, “A person is generally as happy as they are willing to be.” I personally am moving into 2010 in a mental state better than I moved into 2009. I am happier and at peace despite Dena's lack of employment. Could this be the simplification that Thoreau talks about? We have slowed down our lives and this brings peace.

But, as I always do, restlessness will probably set in. I'm never very good with too much quiet. I've been thinking lately of getting back in to mentoring a teen. This will make my life busier but will hopefully provide some benefit to someone less fortunate. I am lucky to have two families that love me just the whacky way I am and some do not have that luxury. I am rich beyond belief. John Greenleaf Whittier reminded us that our future is often the harvest of our actions: “The tissue of the life to be, we weave with colors all our own. And in the field of destiny, we reap as we have sown.”

So with those words of wisdom from others far more thoughtful than I, I ask you to take a quiet moment and take stock of your past and think about how 2010 can be so much more rewarding for you.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Wii Bowling Professional....

This is Sienna (3 years old) doing Wii bowling. Notice the signature leg kick. She kicks the butt of everyone, mom, dad and aunties alike. Her mom and daddy took her real life bowling for her birthday on December 1st and she was shocked that you could bowl, in real life. Amazing how kids today are growing up virtually.....so to speak. By the way, she loves real life bowling too!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Snuggies

So I want a Snuggie for Christmas. Dena says she'll divorce me if I get one, however, Santa does what Santa wants... One would keep me so warm on the couch in our chilly house. Just think of it, all bundled up with fleecy covering your arms, legs and all the way up your neck and your hands poking out. One hand to hold the remote and one to hold the glass of wine. Life would be perfect.

I wish I invented the Snuggie. I'd be a multi millionaire to be sure. The inventor of snuggie was on Oprah the other day. Now I'm not sure if that's a testimony to how great a product it is or how desperate Oprah is for something to talk about that isn't the depressing American economy. I've also read that some people, when calling the TV ad Snuggie 800# they get caught in endless promo loops, get overcharged for shipping and handling and don't really get what they thought. So, as in all cases, buyer beware. Buy from a brick and mortar store where you can touch and feel your snuggie and pick the color. Still, I think it's a great idea although the guy below doesn't think so. See below for youtube video.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Neti Pots & Vicks Vapor Rub


As I'm sure some of you are aware I've had a nasty cold and cough, twice now. I think I relapsed a week after the first cold. Everyone says this cough/cold thing that is going around is primed for relapsing. The second time around I find myself with severe sinus congestion. I don't know about you, but I cannot sleep when I can't breathe through my nose.

Here are the two solutions I'm trying. Vicks Vapor Rub. I remember when I was a kid my mom used to rub Vicks all over my chest and just under my nose. She'd safety pin a washcloth or piece of flannel to my jammies where the Vicks was. I never really thought about why. So, the other night I gave this a shot. I spread Vicks all over my chest. Something became immediately apparent. I didn't have breasts when I was 9 so the "chest" was definitely differently defined. The second thing did not become apparent until the next morning. While I certainly felt better and definitely breathed better during the night, my pajama top was now ruined. No amount of washing was going to get that petroleum based Vicks stain out of them. Now I know why my Mom put a washcloth there.

The second remedy I'm trying is this Neti Pot thing. Apparently some old school nasal cleanser that Oprah re-introduced to the world. When I'm congested it's like cement up there. I was hoping this would loosen things up. I can assure you it did. It was the wierdest feeling. I was quite terrified I'd drown or something but it actually feels good when you're done. Similar to hitting yourself over the head I suppose.
The verdict? Vicks rocks. Definitely good for the chest and nose. Neti pot.....the jury is still out but I think it's helping.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Followers

I added a "followers" tab on the right hand side bar, near the bottom of the blog. Whether we all like it or not, the world has changed and it will continue to do so. Most of our reading content is now online. We get news, weather, playoff schedules and tickets all online. We want to read a book and we can get a Sony reader, a Kindle, download it as a PDF or read an actual paper book.

The Internet is no longer just somewhere to get info on something, it has long past that goal. It already has become a social networking world tied into your smart phone. I'm speaking about facebook (mobile and otherwise), myspace, twitter, etc. Now as we rapidly move into 2010 that will also evolve into an even more tightly integrated world where combining phone GPS's, mobile blogging and facebook, google friends and the myriad of other apps we will know where everyone is at any given moment.

An example of this would be I'm standing in the parking lot of the Hollywood Bowl, I have 4 terrace box seats but one couple just cancelled last minute. Using my iPhone or other smart device I can advertise these 2 extra tickets for sale with my exact location with alerts going out to other users looking for Bowl tickets for that event. Scary? Yes. Useful? Sure.

Another example of this would be an iPhone app recently written where users can post using the iPhone GPS their celebrity sightings. I saw Tracey Ullman at such and such a place at 2:52 pm today. Other obsessed fans would get an alert of where Tracey is and can run to her and mob her. Scary? Hell yes.... Aren't you glad you're not a celebrity?

So, I got off on a tangent there but the gist of all this is that I've added "followers" on my blog. Feel free to sign up, I'd love to have you!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

What is this Nutcracker thing?

Every year they seem to proliferate more and more in my field of vision during the holiday season. These strange wooden soldiers that people call nutcrackers. Why in the world are they associated with Christmas? Why are they called nutcrackers? Do they really crack nuts?

Well, they do crack nuts and apparently nut crackers have been around since at least the Greeks and Aristotle, at least in a decorative/functional form. England’s King Henry VIII gave second wife Anne Boleyn a decorative wooden nutcracker as a gift in the 1500s. But, the colorful nutcrackers we now associate with Christmas didn’t exist until the 18th century, and were the product of German craftsmen.


In Germany, nutcrackers weren’t just practical tools, they were totems said to protect families from danger. Their big wooden teeth were designed to scare away evil spirits, and their ability to crack nuts symbolized the circle of life: A tree drops a seed (nut), which becomes a tree and from the tree the wooden nutcracker is born. The nutcracker, by design, also was a form of satirical political commentary. Nutcrackers made in the image of high-ranking officials, kings and soldiers were a way to force high-status men to “serve” the people. For example, Napoleon may have won battles in Germany, but he was helpless in the hands of the German people, who made the little general’s likeness the most popular nutcracker design of its time.

In the 19th century, nutcrackers began being sold as children’s toys for Christmas. The most popular designs during this time were harlequins and soldiers. One of these soldier nutcrackers became the protagonist of E.T.A. Hoffman’s novel The Nutcracker and the King of Mice , which subsequently inspired Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suit e and The Nutcracker ballet. In America, the nutcracker as a collector’s item first gained popularity in the 1950s, when American GIs returning from Germany brought the colorful nutcrackers home with them. During the same period, The Nutcracker ballet’s popular success also sparked interest in the colorful wooden toy.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

More Random Thoughts

From about 1996 to April 2008 I flew on a regular basis. Too regular for my personal health and the health of my relationship frankly, but alas, that is another blog for another day. During this time bookstores and I were regular friends especially being that this was the time before the Kindle and certainly pre-ipod. I had to have something to do in all those airports and on all those airplanes. I was never really one for magazines unless they involved computers or computer gaming so books it was.

In a recent but short burst of energy I attempted a cleaning out of my nightstand. This serves as a small bookcase of sorts, the kind I had envisioned would hold books in the "waiting to be read" stage. I found some old titles from those bygone flying years. I was a big W.E.B Griffin, Stephen Coonts and Tom Clancy reader. I read everything they wrote and they wrote in the military science/espionage genres. I spent a few minutes reading a chapter out of a book I wasn't sure I had read yet. These guys are such formula writers. You just keep moving the characters from one war or conflict to the next and viola, another book is written. I suppose I enjoyed them because they were mindless reading or perhaps because I was young. Who knows. Anyone want to buy any? I have all of them to sell.....

I also have some small 5x5 books of positive thoughts, uplifting quotes and that sort of crap. These are the kind of books you get someone when you have no idea what to buy them. Gift books. I have no time for uplifting positive crap, I'm a hard working American (well sort of American...) who is busy watching her dollar erode before her very eyes while keeping an eye on her backside so she can see the lay off axe coming. Such is the state of the US of A today, so no time for uplifting, spiritual crap! These books are for sale too....

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Random Thoughts....

I'm caught in between that weird limbo of being too sick to go to work and not sick enough to lay in bed for too long. It's driving me insane. I've gone in to work for 4 hours these last two days leaving exhausted with the icing on cake today being yelled out of my office by four of my co-workers. They were yelling, "get yourself to a doctor", while one of them fetched water in hopes of saving my sorry soul from an early demise. They had to yell, I was coughing so much and so loud there was no other choice.

So here I am, at home itching to go to work and going bonkers at home because I feel time is a wasting. I lay propped up in bed thinking of all the home projects that I could be doing with this cool time at home and then as I start to formulate a plan to do something I'm wracked with a coughing fit that reminds me why I am here.

My trip to the doctor today was predictable but had slight educational benefits. I'm frustrated as every time I get a cold it rapidly moves into my chest and bronchitis is quick to follow. This is a common issue with asthmatics. When I broached this frustration with the doctor she devised a possible prevention plan that involves immediate application of a steriod inhaler Advair upon inception of the cold. Might work, it's worth a shot. In the meantime I suck up Albuterol and Advair regularly and patiently await the filling of my cough medicine with codiene prescription. I chant, "The coughing shall subside, I am healthy, The coughing will subside", hack, hack, hack

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Dishwashers....



As most of you know we are 99% done with the kitchen. I thought I would share some thoughts regarding all the research I've done for our dishwasher purchase. I had certain criteria, some just my fetishes, some very logical criteria and some selfish. My criteria is listed below. Some interesting things to note. There are rebates for almost every appliance right now. Check google and your local power and electric company's website, make sure you get your rebate money! One of the things that make dishwashers really quiet now is the lack of a built in little garbage disposal. Most have this basket you have to clean out every couple weeks depending on if or how much you rinse your plates.
My criteria:
  • Quiet - ultra quiet
  • wine glass holders in top shelf
  • adjustable top shelf to accommodate large platters in bottom drawer
  • heating element (more on that later)
  • delay start
  • no stupid little drawer for silver ware (see picture)
Heating element, why was that a criteria? Well, some dishwashers, like the Bosch do not come with a heating element inside anymore. This saves energy. It makes the Bosch the most energy efficient dishwasher out there, but do you really want wet dishes? I like my dishes nice and warm and DRY when I pull them out of the dishwasher. Quiet? Why did I want a quiet one, well we run our dishwasher at around 2 am usually and I don't want to hear it spraying and clunking away in the kitchen. So delay start and quiet go hand in hand. Our new Kenmore Elite is so quiet it's a little hard to tell it's on.

Adjustable top shelf. Some of these are cheap and just scream, "I'm going to break soon!" so try it out over and over again. I think it's a great feature as Dena and I entertain frequently and use large platters to serve food. It would be nice not to have the middle swinging spray arm hit all the plates and pots on the lower level. Bad for the arm and bad for the dishes.

Silverware - there is nothing I hate more than having to work hard to put dishes and silverware in the dishwasher. Isn't a dishwasher supposed to save time? This new feature of having a silverware drawer is the stupidest thing I ever saw. It takes too much time. Who has time to place every single knife and fork in its own little slot. Just throw them all in a basket and be done with it. For those of you that say they don't get clean, well, if you don't wipe the peanut butter off the knife and leave it sit for 4 days then no, it probably won't get clean.

Other things we learned - positioning and understanding of your controls. Dishwashers nowadays in order to qualify for energy star compliance have certain features that you must turn on when you wash. We have to push the Hot Dry button to get it. Where are your controls? Are they on the front? Do you want to see that or do you want them hidden in the door? We have this turbo wash thing in the back. If you put dirty pots in there like a roast pan, you can pick the turbo wash cycle and they'll blast the pan. Pretty cool.

So, do your homework and you'll be happy. We consulted consumer reports and all sorts of online reviews before our purchase. The nice lady at Sears was extremely helpful and we learned a ton.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Black Friday is Changing

I'm pretty proud of myself this morning. I have been looking at flyers and doing some online shopping for a good quality, inexpensive camera for Chanukah for my niece. I found one, Fuji with free 2 Gig memory card and case. $79.99, free shipping and no 10% California sales tax, final price = $ 79.99! W00t!

How has Black Friday changed? Instead of getting up at 4am (not that I ever did this) and running down to Best Buy, Walmart and/or Target for "door crasher" specials there are now "lightning" online only Black Friday week specials. I love it. I can sit in the comfort of my own home and shop and the stuff magically appears on my doorstep. Sometimes change is good. Now, buyer beware. You have to know what you are buying. Don't forget to check out the reviews since you cannot touch and feel these items like in a traditional brick & mortar store.

So the moral of the story. Comparison shopping pays as does doing your homework. I feel like I won the lottery today, I got a good quality camera for an excellent price. There are cheaper point and shoots out there but the reviews hammer them.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Train Notes

I'm on the Amtrak train to San Luis Obispo. I've not been on a passenger train since I was about 12. That's 35 years ago or so. Currently, I'm sitting in the Sightseeing car's upper deck going through Simi Valley. We've had one train malfunction and 4 stops already and we've been travelling for almost 2 hours. Surely we will be late. Apparently, you get what you pay for. No WiFi, no power outlets, no nothing. I'm pretty sure this train car was around 35 years ago the last time I was riding the rails....

Just up from me in the car is an older white guy wearing all black, a red tie and wearing aviators. He's with his African American girlfriend. He apparently only dates black women and they've been drinking since the train started rolling. First beer, now they've switched to wine. Does that set the stage for you? He was complaining that this bottle of wine was $13 because normally he brings his own bottle (probably jack LOL). He's already made the couple across from me uncomfortable because of the F bombs but he's a G-D fearing man as is his squeeze. He's been a limousine driver, had offers to swing with another couple in a sleeper car on a previous train, is currently pulling unemployment and has an opinion about everything. Do I know too much about the guy....yes. Where is my Ipod????!!!

On the train we have young college kids going up UCSB, Cal Poly SLO and the like, retirees just travelling about and a strange mixed bag of riff raff that obviously don't drive because they either cannot afford a car or have long ago lost their driver's licenses. I worry about the conductors and what they probably have to put up when the bar closes. All this and I have just made it out of LA County. What is to come?

Scroll down for my blog about my mom.....

A tribute to my Mom


I spoke with my mom last night. She informed me that she couldn't talk too long on the phone because she had 20 boxes of Avon she had to process. My mom has been an Avon lady for as long as I can remember. She always makes President's club for her region for highest sales. Her 20 boxes consisted of these Angel fundraising gift sets. If you sell an angel christmas set, Avon will donate 5 dollars to your local food bank. My mom had raised $500 for the Edmonton food bank which means she sold 100 Angel gift sets. That also means that she has to deliver them and collect the money, all on her own time and her own dime.

This type of selfless giving is something that is hard to find nowadays. Mom, I'm proud of you. Your energy, drive, compassion and selflessness inspire me. That picture above is one I've posted before of her, but is one of my favorites. It was taken this April in chinatown in San Francisco.

I miss you mom.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I Had a Dream

You ever have a weird dream where your spouse pissed you off and you wake up really mad at them? I have. I've also been on the other end of it. It is a little bizarre how it's difficult to get over it. Your anger is real as if your dream was just as real. The brain is an amazing thing.

I woke up this morning very anger and disturbed at my current employer. I am so angry I don't want to go to work. I had this bizarre dream that when I came in Monday morning the entire place was changed. They had sold a 9% stake in the company to a big high pressure sales company. I cannot remember the name now. I walked into the executive area and all the lights were off and there were many, many people milling about moving into their new desks. Most of the offices were gone, the desks were all very open and quite tiny. There was a brand new red Maserati sitting there, I assume some sales incentive. People were loud and horsing around and I was wondering how any actual work was going to get done.

My server room was gone, my locked storage closet was gone and we had all new computers with Windows 7 on them. As an IT person that is the biggest insult of all. To have your organization change all the computers out and not clue you in. They had hired some simple techs to do it. I cannot name the name of the company here but I was stunned and very hurt. I will probably be in a funk all day. Oh, and by the way. I no longer had an office, I had a little desk across from some sales manager that played the radio all the time and loved shaving creme jokes.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Advertising to the nth degree


This is a picture taken in the Century City mall bathrooms. This is taking advertising to the nth degree. The stall was completely done up like something out of pottery barn. It was advertising for Charmin. Very well done actually. I felt right at home.....

Monday, October 26, 2009

Kitchen Remodel - And We Wait

The kitchen remodel has come to a screeching halt. It seems that someone used our stool to reach high places and put half moon type divots all over our brand new oak floor. It will all have to be resanded and refinished. The careless idiot is not fessing up to it. Everyone says it was everyone else's fault. I supposed it is immaterial although it would be nice to have one neck to choke. Since resanding is required, moving in is out of the question. That fine wood dust will be everywhere so there is not much point.

We are also waiting on Tino the cabinet guy to finish. Over 50% of the doors are unbalanced or have some issue with them, the other 50% the self closing mechanism is too tight or too loose or too something. Then there are a few doors he forgot or were the wrong size.

We are also waiting on Sears to deliver our replacement fridge. We purchased a top of the line Kenmore Elite french door, bottom freezer fridge. Nice unit. too bad it has so many issue that I had to demand a whole new fridge. It sits in our kitchen making ice in places where ice should not be. We have to wait for November 7th for that. I'm sure they'll scratch the floor all up.

It's so frustrating as we are almost done. Absolutely nothing happened all last week. The kitchen beckoned to us, calling.... cook with me, saute with me.....but alas, we could not.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Kitchen Remodel - And on and on it goes.....


I think it looks spectacular. The handles that I stressed over go very well with all the colors, the stain is a good match for the granite and tile and the lights that seemed like a difficult choice, go perfectly. However, and isn't there always something?? Our cabinet guy has a long way to go to be finished. There are obviously a few doors missing and almost half the doors have some issue or another. Saturday is another day. Sears will be here to take another crack at fixing the fridge. I'm happy to report however, that all the crap is out of our backyard.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Words to Live By

This poem was read this morning on Michael Josephson's Character Counts segment on KNX1070. His segments get me thinking, perhaps too much at 6:45 am but I suppose a little self examination is never a bad thing. I am very guilty of rushing through life and it's only been in the last six months that I've slowed down some. Perhaps that is just age or perhaps I've realized that I'm half way through my life (hopefully) and I need to start smelling the roses a little more. Dena will probably disagree about my slowing down but I have. I used to be at a social event and be thinking about when it was over so I could get to the next event or task. That is definitely not living in the moment, that is just racing through life and not experiencing it.

So here is the poem from this morning,

Have you ever watched kids on a merry-go-round,
or listened to rain slapping the ground?

Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight,
or gazed at the sun fading into the night?

You better slow down, don't dance so fast,
time is short, the music won't last.

Do you run through each day on the fly,
when you ask "How are you?", do you hear the reply?

When the day is done, do you lie in your bed,
with the next hundred chores running through your head?

You better slow down, don't dance so fast,
time is short, the music won't last.

Ever told your child, we'll do it tomorrow,
and in your haste, not see his sorrow?

Ever lost touch, let a friendship die,
'cause you never had time to call and say hi?

You better slow down, don't dance so fast,
time is short, the music won't last.

When you run so fast to get somewhere,
you miss half the fun of getting there.

When you worry and hurry through your day,
it's like an unopened gift thrown away.

Life isn't a race, so take it slower,
hear the music before your song is over.

About the Author
David L. Weatherford is a child psychologist with published poems in "Chicken Soup for the Soul". If you want to enjoy more of David's beautiful writings, please visit www.davidlweatherford.com

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Kitchen Remodel - End of Week 9

I know you were all expecting some exciting pictures today....but alas, the kitchen is covered in tarp, paper and the new stove and hood is all covered over by a "bridge" that they made out of wood for installing the new hood. I can tell you that it looks fantastic though.

Sears repair is here today to fix the new fridge. Yes, it was installed improperly. Now he's blaming my contractor for not clearing the water line for the ice maker and that the filter is clogged. Filters are not covered - $ 50 down the drain, literally. The freezer has frozen condensation in it because the door doesn't seal properly on the left side and they neglected to drop the feet down, so every time I pull open the french doors the fridge slides out 12". Nothing irritates me more than incompetence.
They are finishing the grout, moving in the washer/dryer, finishing the plumbing, installing the under cabinet water filter, and the list goes on. I have high hopes that I'll be making dinner Friday on our new stove, washing dishes in our new dishwasher and drinking a bottle of wine chilled in our new wine cooler. Hope springs eternal....

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Kitchen Remodel - Day 4 Week 9 or something...


An Exciting statement emanated from the mouth of our contractor today..... he proclaimed he would be done with the kitchen Tuesday October 13th. Perhaps he should have picked a better day. In true Dawn (reads....pessimistic) fashion it will probably be more like Friday the 16th, but hey, that means one week from now we'll have our kitchen back. That has got me all whipped up into a frenzy for sure.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Kitchen Remodel - The Lizard

This is the behind the stove back splash. It's done in a herring bone pattern and has taken our contractor 4 days to complete. It is quite a detailed pattern, especially using smaller 1" x 4" Japanese tiles. As you can see the cuts on the sides are quite small, combine that with the fact that the cabinets are not perfectly straight or the wall or something is not straight, perhaps the owners, and you get minute differences in lots of cuts. It's a shame really that the hood will cover a portion of this pattern. Our contractor has taken to calling this the "lizard". It fits.

We look forward to tomorrow which will hopefully mark the end of the tile as Thursday is granite repair day and Friday the stove arrives.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Kitchen Remodel - Delays and More Delays....

No project is immune from delays. The current delay is that the floor has been re-sanded and the second and third coats of varnish put on but it will take 48 hours to cure. This was unexpected as we were originally told that it would be available after 24 hours. This has the effect of pushing all the trades out. Granite repair had to be moved from today until next Thursday, tile will hopefully begin today, appliances are still being delivered Friday but the stove was pushed out until Friday the 9th.

Oh well, I suppose after 9 weeks of no sink and living in a state of chaos, what's one more week? I vacillate from complete frustration (which normally occurs when I have to kneel in front of the bathtub and wash dishes) to just surrendering to it all. Dena and I both wander the house each day looking for something that we've moved and can no longer find. Nothing is where it was or where it should be. At various times throughout these 9 weeks we've even had to change doors we come in and out of.

Humans are creatures of habit and I find great comfort in my habits. Think about it. How lost would you be if you had to put your keys, cell phone, garage door opener, etc in a completely different spot every other day. You wouldn't be able to find anything. It puts a small but constant level of stress on your mind. We rely on these small but very consistent habits so that we can function at our higher human level. Please......give me my consistency back!!!!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Assholes and Range Rovers




I've long held the belief that if you're driving a range rover, you're probably an asshole. It's about a 90% certainty. Call it a personal stereotype if you will but it is so true. Think of the type of person that could afford to buy one of these vehicles. The cheapest Range Rover is $80,000. So to buy or lease one you have to be upper middle class bordering on leaping over that glass wall to rich. If they had already leaped over the wall, they wouldn't be driving a range rover, they'd be driving Porsche Cayenne. After all, the British Made Range Rover since its resurgence 5 - 7 years ago as a status vehicle does not have a great service record. It is notoriously finicky, not being able to put up with any climate change, dirt, dust or hard driving. It certainly is a distant relative to it's inspiration, the original Range Rover that conquered Africa from a tourist perspective.

Male drivers of Range Rovers are the worst assholes of the species. That deep feeling of entitlement and right of way. I am everything to everyone, the world revolves around me, get out of my way - sound familiar? Just this morning myself and 3 other drivers were cut off by an entitled black Range Rover whose life was obviously more important than ours.

Take your own poll. For the next month, watch all the range rover drivers. How many times do you see a range rover and not say, "asshole". Seriously, try it.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Kitchen Remodel - Monday - 9th Week


The tile layout begins. It should be fascinating and interesting. Only a special contractor could put up with our design demands. Wes is patient and creative which is quite conducive to progress occurring. Here Dena is approving a tricky tile layout with these small, Japanese 1" x 4" tiles. You have to give her credit, who else could pull off a mission style kitchen with cherry cabinets, green tile, granite with a millions shades of green and some white and rust quartz thrown in, and yellow walls...

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Kitchen Remodel - 8 weeks




The granite has arrived. It truly was like Christmas. There were 6 guys working in the house that day and it was about 100 degrees outside. So I suppose it wasn't much like Christmas... The granite is beautiful but apparently nothing can be accomplished without problems and drama. There was a large scratch on one of the pieces and the installer decided to attempt to fix it even though he told me he wasn't the specialist at this. What resulted was that the scratch is gone but the polish is gone as well. So, we will wait and see what Monday brings, and it had better bring the specialist over and it had better magically be fixed when I come home from work. These are all the photos Dena got before I came home and freaked out that it wasn't covered. That's all I need are more scratches! It's covered now!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Our new iMac

We have recently purchased a new Apple iMac. At first I was pretty cool to the idea and had a mindset that this was going to be Dena's computer and I could just use it for doing videos. Now that I've had a chance to play on it a little I'm getting quite excited. Using iPhoto for sorting pictures seems pretty cool, especially using the facial recognition. I'm starting on a couple hard cover photo books as well and hope to move into digital scrapbooking in a couple weeks.

We purchased this Apple One to One package , $ 99 for one year of basically personal one on one training. I think that is pretty cool. My first class is this Saturday at 8am. What can I say, I'm a morning person. I need to be trained as there is no right click in the Mac world. What is up with that? And sometimes windows move around and blur out and it's confusing. I'm sure I must be doing something but I have no idea what. I'm also sure that all the shortcuts I know on the PC are somewhere on the Mac but I need to be trained on what they are.

After only 2 weeks of using the Mac on a cursory basis I have to say that I would strongly recommend it to anyone needing a new computer. The AppleCare package and the One to One package allowed us to drag Dena's old desktop into the Apple store and they magically transferred all folders, documents, calendar and contacts over to the Mac. There was some cleanup to do but that was inevitable. The computer is 7 years old for crying out loud. All in all, I'm very happy with our new purchase, especially since it was 12 months, no interest financing :-)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Update On Life

We have a pause in the kitchen remodel. Hopefully just a couple days but now it's really all about the granite. The granite fabrication is being done right now at SMG Stone's shop out in Sun Valley. We are scheduled for installation this Friday. That will be incredibly exciting. Maybe I'll have to take the day off or maybe I should work and just be surprised when I come home. Much needs to be done in preparation to drive for completion next week, finalizing flooring, some cabinet tweaking, baseboards, molding and the list goes on and on and on. The devil is truly in the details when dealing with all of this but we are now looking toward the future and the eventuality of a house re-warming party.

Appliances are scheduled for Friday October 2nd delivery. Keep your fingers crossed for us.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Kitchen Remodel - Week 7 Cabinets Stained


The cabinets are stained and apparently we will have two days of peace and quiet. That will be nice. Everyone now waits for the granite.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Kitchen Remodel - Start of Week 7


This day was about as exciting as Christmas for me. I was awake at 4:19 am, my mind awash with anticipation, worry, excitement and fear. A day we've anticipated for almost a year was here, new cabinets. I was worried that something wouldn't fit. I was excited that a major milestone was getting wiped off my schedule and afraid it would look terrible, shrinking the kitchen to a tiny footprint. Almost all my freaking out was for naught. Almost.....there was a little moment of hissy fit between the contractor and the cabinet guy, but once over that it all moved along fairly well. A couple little tweaks here and there that our wonderful contractor will have to be made but all in all, it went well and more importantly, it looks FABULOUS!
Tomorrow the stainer will be here to mask for staining and the granite tech will be here to measure. Whew. Projected completion date.....October 3rd.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

This Says It All

This really says it all. This guy was spotted at lunch in downtown Los Angeles yesterday. Job sites say you need to be creative in finding a job in this economy. Yes, you do, but if no one is hiring your creativity will get you blogged about perhaps, but not get you a paying gig.

Friday, September 11, 2009

8 Years Later


A day that touched everyone

A moment that endures year after year

A vision etched into our memory

An act that changed the world

And the lives of so many

Such is the legacy of September 11th

May we never forget

the loss of so much

and so many

of innocence

of lives

of peace

-- Dawn Armstrong 9-11-2009

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Kitchen Remodel - The Other Shoe


In true pessimistic fashion I knew we were moving along too well, even despite the fire and flood. No remodel or contractor/sub-contractor experience is complete without some bullshit. I had a feeling it would be with the flooring guy. As you can see by the picture he laid flooring underneath most of the cabinets. That's bad if you have a leak because you now need to replace wood flooring that disappears under cabinets that you don't really want to move. After all, there will be granite on top of them! Also, what you don't see is that he neglected to put down a vapor barrier between the wood sub floor and the red oak. While it is not absolutely necessary in the Los Angeles climate it was part of the quote to my knowledge and I feel ripped off. I had a feeling about this guy even though I'd never met him. You should trust your intuition I guess.

As Dena would say, look at the bright side....the floor looks good.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Kitchen Remodel - 36 days


Saturday - what a day. Our Saturdays have been jam packed every weekend for the last 3 months. Always one or more things to research, price, shop for, measure, or buy for the kitchen. Today was no exception. We were at Mission Tile in South Pasadena at 9am when they were supposed to open to order all our tile. They apparently decided to close down shop for the entire Labor Day weekend. That was a drag. Then it was off to Crown City Hardware to return a handle (an expensive one), then off to Woodland Hills to the Ferguson Lighting Showroom to look at LED under cabinet lighting. We have finally made a decision on the under cabinet lighting deciding on the direct wire CounterMax LED strip. Apparently, you practically need to be an electrical engineer to figure it all out. I think I've rambled on in previous posts enough about all the challenges of it. They are, of course, back ordered until October 1st.


It is now just after noon, we're home already and discovered a coat of primer had been applied to the kitchen and our new unfinished red oak flooring delivered. That funny little "window" in the wall above Dena's head is our new built in spice rack. We added that at the last minute last week.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Kitchen Remodel - 35 days


Amazing progress has occurred I have to say. The drywall is done and tomorrow, on day 36, they will prime it all up to prepare for painting. Also tomorrow, our flooring guy will drop off our oak flooring and plywood covering. Today we lined out tile design and nailed down how many square feet of each tile type will be required.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Kitchen Remodel - Cabinets....







We went out looking at our new cabinets today and we liked them. More decisions had to be made and new things were discovered. We only have 1.25" for the valance for under cabinet lighting. This will further restrict our choices. Under cabinet lighting is in my humble opinion akin to rocket science. There are a vast number of choices, each of them with pros and cons and everyone has an opinion.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Kitchen Remodel - The New Panel!

Remember when remodelling to document everything especially when the walls are open. You want to know where every pipe, cable and vent is.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Kitchen Remodel - Electrical Rough In


I learn so much every time we do work on our house. The more I learn the more I realize what shoddy work many people do. When we added our bathrooms 8 years ago we paid the electrician a lot of money to put in a new main panel and do other wiring. The left side of the picture is part of the crap that he did and the right side of the picture is our new proper subpanel. There will be no wire nuts in the new subpanel!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Fires Rage....


We were in Pasadena and Burbank looking at our cabinets and shopping for drawer pulls and this site greeted us at every turn. It was eery watching flames lick down the hills even at that distance. I feel for those people in the foothills worrying about their homes every minute of every day.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Kitchen Remodel - 30 days


One month into the project and we are starting to see real progress and starting to get so excited for the end. Please let the end be near! The rough in electrical is finally done, that was 10 days of slow but steady progress, the insulation is going in and the drywall is starting to go up. There are a few more rough in plumbing/gas items to take care of but all in all we should start to really see movement over the next week. I'm hoping that cabinets can get dropped in Friday September 4th. Wouldn't that be something? I found out that after the granite fabricator comes and measures it's 2 weeks for fabrication. That was depressing. They cannot measure until the lower cabinets are in.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Kitchen Remodel - Making Do




This is how we're living now. Doing dishes in the bathtub, we have one burner in that old PureAire 1943 unit in the guest house that we can reach. The washer and dryer are blocking most access to that unit. As you can see, Dena is holding breakfast over the washer. The other picture is our old Kenmore fridge, still surviving, despite it's new home in the dining room. The birds, pantry and prep area are all in the dining room now.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Kitchen Remodel - Day 22

Today marks the beginning of the 4th week of the kitchen remodel. For almost 3 full weeks there has been nothing but destruction. Each week the demolition continued until I couldn't fathom how there was anything more to remove from that kitchen/laundry room/breakfast nook area. Finally, right near the end of week 3 we see rebuilding. Some rough in plumbing is done, as you are all well aware....

Probably 50% of the rough in electrical is done. It is amazing the number of decisions that are required for each trade. For electrical you need to decide where each light goes, which lights are on what switches, where the switches are going to go, if the switches will be 3 ways, will they be dimmable, what size recessed lighting? 4", 5" or 6", what type of trim? White? Chrome? brushed nickel? What type of lights? Florescent, incandescent or LED? Well, we had our eyes set on LED but the technology just doesn't seem to be there yet and it is way too expensive for any kind of decent ROI (return on investment). I've also spent hours researching under cabinet lighting. You'd think that would be easy but it proved to be extremely challenging with the end result finally going to fluorescent tubes for two simple reasons, it made that granite just pop with color, texture and detail and cost. You can't beat the price.

All the walls are removed, the pocket beams installed, hold downs are in and amazingly enough, drywall should start going up tomorrow. Can you believe it? It seems like it's been an eternity that we've been washing dishes in the bathtub yet seems like only yesterday that the demolition started. Life is funny like that I suppose.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Kitchen Remodel - Tough Decisions


I find one of the toughest decisions when doing a bathroom or kitchen is tile and the whole color scheme thing. I find it increbibly challenging to visualize the entire wall, tile layout and how everything will go together. This time, I made sure that some of that visualization was helped with samples, a sample of the cabinet door, sample tiles, even a sample of the sink. This is what our final product should look like.....

We had struggled with colors of stain, tile and over all color palette for almost a year and for some reason had not gone back to our favorite tile store, Mission Tile West - South Pasadena. Nancy has helped us in our tile choices for, well, a decade? We've always appreciated her input and a big shout out to Nancy!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Into Each Remodel a Little Rain Must Fall.....

After the Dodger Game we came home to a note on our gate. The note said that our good neighbor turned off the water to our house after they heard water running and saw it cascading down our driveway. That day was rough in plumbing day so a pipe must have burst. Obviously, I was upset. After checking out the kitchen, in the dark, it was obvious that water was all over but not as bad as it could have been. I called the contractor and told him to get his a$$ over here early in the morning and we gave thanks for good and vigilant neighbors.

The shock came the next morning as the sunlight illuminated the truth. It wasn't so much that there was a flood, it was that the fire was so hot that it melted the sodder on the copper pipe that then burst, causing a geyser of water that put out the fire. Does this sound over the top to you? Well, it should, because even as I type it I still cannot believe it. There is truly someone or something watching over me. The what ifs are endless but none of them relevant as a miracle truly occurred.

As you can see by my friends' artist rendition of the actual event in the blog post below, all of the planets were aligned. During soddering of the copper sink riser an ember must have manifested itself in the dry 1920's redwood 2x4's. There are a few termite trails in these from days past and perhaps the ember smouldered in there. The smouldering took what we figure was about 3 hours to ignite before the water was turned off. Below is also a picture of the melted PVC drain pipe.

Kitchen Remodel - Is it Hot in Here?




Thursday, August 20, 2009

Kitchen Remodel - Day 16


Here they are putting in the 2nd pocket beam. This will support the wall that was between the laundry room and the kitchen.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Kitchen Remodel - Discovering History







During our tear out of the last floor level in the kitchen we discovered an intact newspaper from November 7th, 1933. In the old days if they needed an eigth or sixteenth they would just use the newspaper as a shim. That appears to be what they did here. November 7th, 1933 was election day. They were voting to end prohibition. Here are some pictures of that paper. We hope to frame it and hang it in the new kitchen. By the way, you could get a pack of smokes for .15 cents and a new toaster for .69 cents, but if you wanted a cord on that toaster it was .20 cents more.....



Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Kitchen Remodel - Day 15 - 5 Floors?




We knew we had 3 floors, the blue linoleum, followed by a 1/4" wood chip filler layer, then the "stone" linoleum, followed by another 1/4" filler, then the lovely green Armstrong flooring. We were surprised to find below that a mix of douglas fir vertical cut and solid oak hardwood flooring for another layer. This all had to be removed as well. In the interest of time and money I decided this would be a good weekend demo project. It was cathartic and great exercise.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Kitchen Remodel - Day 11







There has been much progress. All the debris is removed including the 4 partial walls that basically opened up the entire space into one big room. As Dena says, it's a blank canvas now. Naturally, problems were discovered, as happens in houses, old and new. We have a couple new beams and feel generally better about the structural soundness of the house. While the marriage is still in it's honeymoon phase with our contractor things are going very well and thus far we are happy.






Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Kitchen Remodel - Day 10


This is our second huge debris pile....and they are not quite done with "debris".

Monday, August 10, 2009

Direct Buy Follow Up

Short post today but just wanted to comment on how many comments and emails I get regarding Direct Buy. I've gotten 2 just in the last few days.... My position still stands on what a scam it is. I've spoke to people at cocktail parties and gatherings about it and some of them have been there and sat through the presentation and then ran and some were always curious but never went.

It's interesting that my original post was from 2008 and they are still hounding people today with new dining rooms, new living room sets, expensive watches, etc. Have they not heard that we are in a deep recession? I suppose they don't really care as long as they have your initiation fee. Oh, and don't forget, initiation fees vary by geography and demographic and of course, there is a monthly fee to go along with that....
For the original blog post, see below.


http://dawnarmstrong.blogspot.com/2008/09/direct-buy-scam-or-consumerism-at-its.html

Saturday, August 08, 2009

On Top of the World in Los Angeles


Here I am standing on the helipad 55 stories up atop the LA Live building. I was "supervising" the Sprint promotional film crew that was doing a piece on my company.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Kitchen Remodel - Day 4




Here are a couple demolition pictures....there's really nothing left and after those partition walls come out.....there will be even less.