Friday, May 16, 2014

Been a While

Time has literally gotten ahead of me again, leaving me floundering to try and play catch up on many, many fronts. How is it that someone who doesn't have a full time job can be at such a loss for time?

The reality is that I'm flipping all over the place doing a whole bunch of small, arguably insignificant things. Home related projects and chores, keeping the fleet of bikes in good working condition as well as keeping on top of both the weekly team ride organization and the social media presence of a "team" of individuals (also know as a club). I don't seem to have much spare time to sit in front of a computer and write any longer, which is kind of disappointing as I do enjoy that. I'd hoped to write lots of product reviews and tales of adventure for the team blog, but those entries have been few. I try and set time aside but it doesn't always work out. I've spent at least a day a week helping out at the bike shop giving back to the folks that help me out so much. I've also spent about 20 hours fighting my way through redesigning cycling team kits in Adobe Illustrator. I really enjoy that design work as it is where my actual (original) professional background is.

I'm guessing it is also poor management on my part, which is not a really big surprise. My list of projects is pretty big. Now if I were a professional plumber, electrician, carpenter, mechanic or project manager for that matter, I might be more efficient and have greater success. However, the net is that I spend a lot of time in the design phase trying to minimize the pitfalls in the implementation phase. That doesn't always work but some times it does.

The past couple of weeks for instance have been good examples. Last week I decided I was finally going to plumb a utility sink into the basement. We had hot and cold water as well as a drain off the main waste stack in the area of the basement that used to be the laundry. All that I had to do was plumb in new ball valves to remove the old leaky stop valves, then add my various hardware connectors, install the sink and plump the waste trap. All pretty straight forward and in fact, the project went pretty well. I had to extend the legs on the sink to meet the height minimum for the waste but it all worked out fine in the end. I took that a a success.

This week I was faced with the task of dealing with a faulty, leaking water heater. My options were to either pay someone to put a new one in, which we did 7 years ago to the tune of nearly $1000 given that we opted to go with a "better quality heater with a longer warranty". Money wasted in reality and thus I decided to just snag the cheapest heater I could and put it in. This is basically the mantra we have started chanting with all appliances, get the cheapest we can to minimize the net loss WHEN they crap out in five years as they all seem to do, regardless of the brand or the price. This has been the case with our Bosch dishwasher, our Fischer and Paykel dryer, our Bradford White Jetglass water heater and literally countless other things. Junk, all junk, but unfortunately junk that we simply are unable to live without.

The install went great and took no time at all. But then when I turned the cold water input back on I had a leak in one of the joints. That meant draining the now closed system back out. The ball valves that the plumbers used at the cold/hot water in/out for the old heater did not have clean-outs so the lowest point in the line could not be drained. It was a mess of failed attempts to get it all dry and buttoned back up from there but I finally got it done literally a couple of hours later.

Other projects this week included fixing the deck on the ride lawn tractor. This was the tractor that came with the camp we bought in VT last summer. It is actually a pretty good rig but has seen some abuse. The front right side of the deck, at the guide wheel and discharge, had taken a blade strike which made a mess of the deck. The guide wheel was barely attached and the lower support for the discharge opening was cracked off and swinging in the breeze. The net of that was that the mower deck was not running level and ran lower on the side with the broken guide wheel, naturally. Fixing it would be pretty easy with some added material (1/4" steel rod) to bridge the broken strut and fill part of the cut from the blade strike and a bunch of welding with my trusty old PoS Lincoln wire feed flux core MIG. The project only took an hour or so and worked perfectly leaving the deck now self leveling once again, which was good as I needed to then go out and mow the lawn.

Earlier this week I also started another project, adding a door to the garage from the front entry way. We should have had one put in when the garage went on but they never presented the option of having the door where I am putting it, an area that minimizes wasted space. So after much planning and thinking and measuring and more planning I finally got under way and framed and headed the rough opening. Now I just need to knock out the hole through the outside wall, put the door in and then re-do the steps on my front entry.

Beyond these somewhat larger tasks I have been planning the myriad of projects on the VT camp, which start next week and will take at least all of the summer. As I mentioned, planning for stuff like this is what keeps me up at night as I like to visit all of the details over and over and over in my head. Again though, fun stuff, at least when it is complete. I've also spent about a day a week doing custom bike work for friends who need stuff turned around in a hurry.

I finally got around to planting the garden yesterday. Actually, given the weather that we have had this spring, we've not had all that much opportunity to get the garden planted. It has simply been too cold, or at least cold enough that I have not wanted to get the seeds in. Anyhow, I bought seed and some seedlings this week and yesterday got them in. Of course once again, I bought and planted too much. Hopefully we get better luck this year or at least, at least better luck with some of the stuff, like winter squash. I put in lots of lettuce again as that worked well. Some peas, some summer squash, some cherry tomatoes, some broccoli, onions that came up from last season and some cucumbers, of course. The cats love their cucumbers. A couple weeks back I added peat and garden soil to what we had in the raised beds and tilled it in. I need to throw some manure on it as well.

Then there are the normal chores that everyone has, grocery shopping, mowing the lawn, doing yard work, scooping the kitten poops every AM which has come to be a metaphor for my existence and of course riding bikes every day. I'm not sure how I used to get all of this stuff done before, when I had a full time job. The answer of course is that I didn't get all of it done. Things slipped, or took longer, or didn't get done or we paid someone to do them.

I know, it's a tough life in my world. Yea right :)

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