Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What Have You Done?

Today I asked myself that very question. One thing is for certain, I'm not breaking any records in terms of the quantity of stuff that I have been getting accomplished on my little break from the normal grind thing. It's been a few weeks now that I have not been officially working. What have I been doing with myself during that time?

Simply put, chores. Normal house chores that the average person spends their weekends doing but people like us, who spend their weekends and most other waking moments riding bicycles or partaking in other recreational activities never seem to find the time to complete. Over the years my project quotient has taken a drastic nose-dive. I used to be able to get a ton of stuff done, but then again I wasn't spending quite as much time on the bike as I am now. As such, I've become more and more reluctant tackle things and so, they lay in wait for vacations or other big blocks of free time that really aren't free. What always happens is that I try and cram too much content in the space of too short a time. Stupid incompressible time.

With this round I'm taking a new approach and trying to work a more realistic pace. The idea is that maybe I won't screw things up as much and the end result will turn out much better. I'm not sure if it is working or not but that's the plan. So what have I done so far? Let's lay the baseline chores that I've assumed with my newly acquired free time. These include laundry, cleaning and grocery shopping. Speaking of cleaning, I bought a new microfiber mop today. I'm hoping a damp mop with it post vacuum will be the hot setup for hardwood floors. So far, so good.

Laundry and cleaning are no big deal but grocery shopping was a very strange and new experience. Sure, I'd tagged along before but the first time I set loose solo at Stop&Shop with the self scanner was terrifying. I managed to make it through though not taking the cleanest route by any means. In reviewing the weekly flyers I've also noticed a big difference in prices between Stop&Shop and Market Basket. In doing a full on comparison the difference is huge. The produce is also way better as is the variety at the new Market Basket nearest to us. The downside is that the place is a mob-scene much of the time. I went on Sunday and actually walked back out, not being able to tolerate the commotion.

Question me not for I am the master of my realm!

Another core job is scooping the kitten poops. We have big cats and they make some very smelly and abundant poops. We have two litter boxes and they get daily attention so as to keep them as fresh as possible. In the past I was using a combo mixture for litter, that being 1/3 clay based deodorizing and 2/3 Sweet Scoops corn based litter. This kept the dust down while still giving some good absorbancy. I'd also throw on some Arm & Hammer deodorizer as well. Recently we discovered a new litter from Arm & Hammer Essentials corn based clumping litter. This stuff is awesome and smells really fresh. Heck, I bet you could make muffins out of it and they would freshen your breath to boot. Anyhow, not to brag but when it comes to scooping poop, I know some stuff.

Much less worthless in the current configuration.

Speaking of muffins, I also try and get the meals planned as well. Not a big thing but another day to day task that I've pretty much assumed.

In terms of accomplishments besides the daily home making chores, I've gotten a few done. For bike work I've built a PowerTap hub into a Zipp 404 wheel for Cathy's road bike. I've converted the bastard drop-bar 29er good for nothing bike into a dedicated rigid 29er MTB. I've built two different single-speed mountain bikes for a couple of the kids on the development team to use. I've fendered our backup cyclocross bikes for use as foul conditions road bikes, which we luckily have not needed to use yet. Besides that I've cleaned and maintained our fleet of bikes that is getting way more use this winter than any other winter in the past.

Hot or cold, you choose.

For home improvement projects I've plumbed in a hot water line into the existing cold water line for an outdoor faucet. Both the hot and cold feeds have ball valve shutoffs near the mix point so I can run hot in the winter and cold in the summer or a mix of both. This will be awesome if we ever get frozen slushy snow that we need to hose off the bikes.

The bedroom with some nice soothing earth tones.

I've done a bunch of painting as well. Finally after years and years I finished the trim on the sky lights in the bathroom and bedroom. That same bathroom got the walls redone as well as the trim and I re-caulked the bathtub surround as well. In the bedroom I redid the walls with a very pleasant new color and also added a second color for the closet doors. This was actually a two step process with the first color choice for the closet doors not being all that I'd hoped it to be. The second color was much better. While in the room I also did the molding and baseboards which actually made a big difference. I've also touched up a number of dings around the house as well as getting the water stain in the bath from where we had ice dam leakage last year.

On to some external projects after a bunch of back and forth with my design team on the layout I put what is now effectively railing and lattice on the outside of the basement walk-out. This will not only improve safety so nobody falls over in but will keep snow and leaves from finding their way into the ramp. It also cleans it up a bit and gives a nice finished look, at least I think.

New lattice and railing for the ramp.

I put chimney cap up last week as well. We had never had one and I'd always meant to put one on but there were complications. We have a double flue and the size is odd. I was also unable to find a stock unit that would affix without using concrete screws. I feared drilling holes in the chimney would introduce water which would freeze and crack the concrete. What I did was order the closest size I could get that was a hair smaller that the outer dimensions and then built a wrap-around clamp out of angle iron. I notched the angle iron for the bends of each side such that it looped back almost to itself. I notched and bent the last inch and half of each end at a right angle and drilled a hole through each tab. This wrapped around the perimeter and affixed with a bolt tightening it together between the tabs. In hindsight I should have done bolts on two of the adjacent sides to get better grip but with some construction adhesive on the inside this holds the cap on just fine.

Screw you Santa, use the front door.

This morning I installed a new garbage disposal. The old one was not very high end and came from Sears. It squealed like a pig at times and the grinding chamber was a mass of rust. The new one came from Amazon, as did the chimney cap. This one is a Waste King and is much bigger at a full 1HP, has great reviews and has a stainless grinding chamber. It was also cheap, relatively speaking. It went in pretty well and the only thing that I had to get for additional parts was a box cover that had a switch and outlet versus two switches. The old unit was wired direct but the new one came with a cord and plug. I was going to switch it over but needed more flex-conduit, which they didn't have at the hardware store. I already had a new switched outlet in my electrical parts stash so with a new cover, I was in business.

So there you have it. That's what I've been doing. I know that it doesn't sound like much but it is what it is. Oh, I forgot to mention. I've started to get back into running. I'm going really slow to start though so I don't cripple myself. I've been out 4 times in the past week but am still only up to 1.6 miles. The past couple times have been on the trail. I like it. Cathy and I are going to give a shot at trying the minimalist/barefoot running shoes. The concept really makes sense. Cathy snagged a pair of Merrill and I'm going for some New Balance MT10 I think. Both have 4mm of drop heel to toe as opposed to 11-12mm of drop for a normal running shoe. This encourages a mid-foot strike versus a heel strike which actually results in less impact. I'm missing a large chunk of cartilage in my right knee so that would be key.

I'm also on day 49 (in a row) on the bike. Still waiting for weather to rip me off it but it just hasn't happened yet. This could be a long year of biking. I'm OK with that.


Cathy said...

I don't think you should EVER go back to work! And don't forget that you baked cookies. But the shopping thing still cracks me up :)

Ivy said...

Whatta catch! He cleans house does the laundry, bakes, plumber, mason, bike mechanic, carpenter, official kitty poop technician & goes grocery shopping, etc.

You done well for yourself Cathy!

You better not let too many women read this blog, giggle!

I love the grocery shopping tid-bits! :-)