Happy Halloween

Posted by Steve on Wed, 11/01/2006 - 1:41am


The neighborhood was a mob scene of power rangers and fairy princesses tonight. Our state senator had the brilliant idea of turning the park down the block into "Haunted Halloween" with a disco, a haunted walk, hay rides, a food court and kiddy amusements as a safer alternative to trick-or-treating. As a result, half the kids in Brooklyn were there. Then they assaulted my neighborhood for their sugar rush. Next year I want a government subsidy on my candy supply.

Halloween is a kids' thing and since I don't have kids it's not exactly my thing. But I endure it and get to meet a few neighbors in the process.

I haven't posted anything about the master bedroom renovation in almost two weeks. I haven't been loafing, just too busy to sit down and write anything. The plaster repairs are done. I skimcoated and primed the walls and have begun the wainscotting and preliminary finish carpentry.

Wall Prep Tips

Posted by Steve on Mon, 10/23/2006 - 10:38am


I've got a lunch meeting with a prospective client today so I'll dive into the first priming of the master bedroom project this evening. This gives me an opportunity for some virtual renovation this morning: reading the Houseblogs sites and posting to my own.

Bill over at Enon Hall posted a cool Top Ten list. There are some good tips there. Ya'll should check it out (although my lumberyard likes to see double-spaced, typed materials lists with product codes and a letterhead, preferably faxed in advance).

Since I'm in "wall prep mode" I thought I'd post my own Top Ten in that area. So without further ado...

When Robots Attack

Posted by Steve on Sat, 10/21/2006 - 11:00am


Being the gadget freak I am, I'm of course a big fan of home automation. 90% of my house is under X10 control and the command of a FreeBSD server running some perl scripts I hacked together. I've already written some articles about X10 and my trials and tribs with it so I won't repeat them here.

I love having my house turn its own lights on/off. I like setting up whole-house lighting schemes, available at the touch of a button. But truthfully, X10 is a lot like owning a 1970s-vintage Triumph motorcycle. You run it for a while, then you spend a whole lot of time fixing it. X10 devices will work fine for years only to suddenly stop responding to commands. After hours of sleuthing you find that it's because the battery charger for your new camera is generating a noise storm on your household wiring.

Forging ahead...

Posted by Steve on Wed, 10/18/2006 - 3:00pm


At last, some visible progress on the master bedroom renovation. For most of last week and the weekend I repaired plaster, which isn't very exciting photography. If you can see something it means you didn't do a very good job of it.

Four years ago, I replaced a termite-ridden center support beam in the basement with a steel I-beam. As careful as we were, there was enough settling that the upstairs plaster took a minor beating. Because these were stress fractures that went all the way through the brown coat, I had to dig out each crack with an old beer can opener and embed mesh tape over it. There's probably a hundred feet of it buried in these walls. I wonder what plasterers will use when the last of the old fashioned beer can openers disappears into history? It's perfect for this job.

Where's the progress?

Posted by Steve on Thu, 10/12/2006 - 10:56am


You DIYers know what I'm talking about. A friend comes by to check out your latest completed project and goes "ooh! ahh!" over the paint color and asks where you got your terrific door knobs. You modestly thank him for the compliment. But, deep inside, you feel like Michelangelo after hearing, "Hey, nice paint colors. Where'd you get the cool frame?"

You shed blood on this room for... what?... three months and that's all he can see? Paint color and door knobs?! Is he blind or just clueless? He doesn't see the five hundred feet of mesh tape you skillfully buried in the wall to fix the broken plaster and the hours you spent scraping and spitting out paint chips? He doesn't appreciate the week you spent getting the squeaks out of the floor or the rerouted heating or the four independent lighting circuits or the door it took two days to get plumb and level or the brazillion trips you made up and down a ladder till your quads burned, the scraped knuckles, the twisted elbow and the bottle of Costco ibuprofen you've swallowed over the past 12 weeks just to dull the pain enough to get some sleep?

Perhaps that's why we blog. It documents proof that we did more than just roll on some paint and screw on a door knob.

I'm at that stage of the master bedroom rehab now. I've worked on it for the past five days. Last night I broke out the Canon to take took a "progress shot". Then I compared it with one taken last Saturday. I was crushed. The only thing that looked different is that I had more tools in the room. I know I did something in that room because I've got a blood blister on my thumb, "plaster hair" and a pile of filthy clothes that says I did.

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