Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Learn Something Every Day -Scotland Travel

January 30, 12 Cousin Maureen sent us a great website with 7 different self-guided hikes in Scotland… each one has numerous photos and they offer a variety of services, B & B’s, maps, etc.  I think you will agree it is a wonderful website.  I likely spent an hour looking at different hikes on that Hillwalk Scotland site… including one that goes right past St. Andrews golf course.  How wonderful it that?  http://www.hillwalk-scotland.com/  I signed up for their newsletter.

January 31, 2012  I have been looking at some quotes about change.  It seems like I need to make a few changes… not the least, of which is trading offices with Shirley.

“Change before you have to.” –Jack Welsh, past CEO of G.E. 

“Change means that what was before wasn’t perfect.  People want things to be better." –Esther Dyson

“Change is such hard work.”  -Billy Crystal

Today I made the final decision to switch offices with Shirley.  She has tried to figure out how to rearrange my room so I would not have my back to the door.  The problem is that there are two doors in my office… one goes outside and looks into Shirley’s garden.  The other enters off the living room.  Shirley is the best… and if she can’t figure it out it cannot be done.  (Or is it that Shirley just wants my office?  hummm)

It is not going to be a simple move… we each have a lot of stuff.  There is no satellite TV in her office… so that will have to be fixed.  But Feng Shui or not, it is never good interior design to work at your desk with you’re your back to a door.  My trading coach says that if you have your back to the door all your money will go out the door.  Yikes!  So the sooner I get moved the better.  Do you think I can blame my trading losses on sitting at a computer with my back to the door?  Is this going to be another lesson learned the hard way?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Learn Something New Every Day

When we were thinking about New Years Resolutions at the beginning of the New Year, one of the things I wrote down was to make a point to learn something new every day.  As the first days of the New Year slipped into weeks, I realized that it would be a benefit to me if I kept a journal of what I learned every day... I had already forgot some of the things I know I had learned.  So I started a page in my MacBook Air just to keep a record.  Then this weekend as I was updating it I realized there were some pretty cool links and things that others may benefit from.  So here goes.  The first ten days on record of Things I Am Learning... some of them the hard way!

January 16, 12  New product... Blue Skin.  When we stopped in at the CRD Building Inspection Office in Victoria today, James Robertson taught us about a new product that we must put around the base of the rough opening of the window.  It is a very soft and flexible peel and stick that goes onto the building paper after one sprays it with a primer that ensures good bonding.

When we did our first window January 27 we learned that once you peel of the backing, if any part of it touches itself, you will never get it apart... and you can put that piece in the trash. Lesson learned the hard way.

This is the first window installed.  Four-inch wide white cedar trim boards are yet to surround the window... and No. 1 cedar shingles will be the siding.  Hopefully I can do this in a way that will pass building code and everyone will be happy.

January 19, 12  When painting with lacquer you cannot pour fresh lacquer into yesterdays paint tray, unless it has been washed clean with lacquer thinner.  Fresh lacquer will soften yesterdays lacquer film on the tray and globs of lacquer will come up on your brush and roller… and it will not flow out level like the new lacquer does.  Lesson learned the hard way.

January 20, 12  Today I learned that I need to clean up my workspace.  Lesson One of my new Trading Program includes not only having the right computer with two monitors, high speed internet and a printer… but also a good workspace, a comfortable chair and a tidy desk.  So, I have made a commitment today to get my office totally cleaned up and free of any clutter.  Wish me good luck.  I will have to be ruthless and just throw out most of the stuff I have been telling myself is important.  Much of the stuff I put into files never gets looked at again anyway… so it might as well have been thrown out in the first place.

January 21, 12  What is the difference between a PROBLEM and a PREDICAMENT?  A problem is something that has a solution… it is fixable.  A predicament on the other hand is a dilemma and is not fixable.  Chris Martenson Presentation

January 22, 12  Albert Bartlett, an academic, explains Exponential Growth.  The Law of 70: At 7% growth it takes 10 years to double.  At 10% interest it takes 7 years for money to double.  Starting with just “1” in a generic graphic, if one doubles every year in ten years it is over 1000… the power of doubling.
Explanation of Exponential Growth

January 23, 12  If the word FOCUS was an acronym it would stand for Follow One Course Until Successful. 

January 24, 12 All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” -Walt Disney

Quite by luck when we boarded the ferry to Victoria this morning Chris Watson, the CRD Building Inspector was also boarding the ferry to go home to Pender, where he lives.  He was the first inspector I showed my model to when he came over last April for an initial assessment of what I needed to do to get started on this project.

 So I went over to Chris and asked him if he could spare a few minutes to look at some window details that I had in my truck.  I had planned to take a small window and several sample wood trims to see James Robertson at the Victoria office this afternoon.  After showing Chris what I thought James was looking for since my visit with him last week, I pulled out my design of how I really wanted to do it. There was a couple of ways to trim the exterior of the window frame with the same pieces.  He looked at my idea and thought it could pass… but asked me to install one window with my preferred method and he would stop up take a look next Tuesday when he comes back to Mayne Island.  He gave me his thoughts on how to improve it with things to watch out for… so I am hopeful that my original dream can be modified in a way to pass inspection.  What I wanted to do was commonly done for years… but after the “Leaky Condo” problems here in BC, the Building Code went thru some serious changes and he just didn’t want me do all 36 windows wrong.

January 25, 12  Cabinetry 101:  The width of the drawers must  be less than the opening after the doors are installed.  Can you imagine how shocked we were after installing the cabinet doors that we could not pull out the drawers!  I forgot that the drawer glide tracks also come out past the face of the cabinet.  So, I had no choice but to take the doors off, and then take the drawers apart and make them smaller.  I then reinstalled the tracks with a half-inch spacer.  Not fun… but there was no other way to fix it.  That mistake cost me the better part of a day to fix… not counting the power outage that interrupted the process.  Mistakes are the cost of tuition for the do-it-yourselfer.  The repair came out perfect… only my ego was damaged.

January 26, 12  I viewed a most impressive photo story on the Kintyre Trail in Scotland. The photos were just magnificent… and the country-side was quite spectacular.  When I showed Shirley she immediately wanted to travel there and do the 87-mile hiking trail.  It is a 7-8 day walk… not at all rugged, so us old fogies should be able to handle it. http://www.slideshare.net/sergeverbruggen/de-kintyre-scotland 
It is fun to learn about neat places… and especially neat hiking or walking events with outstanding photo opportunities.

January 27, 12  Shirley called me to see a YouTube video on her computer… Michael Smith doing Psalm 139 by memory.  Totally awesome!  What an inspiration.  One can do a lot worse than memorize large portions of scripture.  Check this out at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mcXGq3IeImw 

January 28, 12  Shirley keeps offering me to swap offices with her.  My coach suggests giving considerations to Feng Shui… and not to sit with your back to the door… your money will go right out the door.  I’ve seen Shirley sitting in my office trying to figure out to rearrange the furniture but it is really difficult to do with the shape of the room… a wall of windows and two doors.

January 29, 12  “A Smile as Big as the Moon” is a Hallmark movie about a special education teacher, (John Corbett) his class and their journey through to the space camp.  Just released for TV on January 29, 2012 this movie is an inspiration in how to bring out the best in children.  In spite of being tired not only stayed awake for the whole thing, there were places I couldn’t hold back the tears.  No trailer yet… http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2100380/

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Construction Update January 22-28

Three notable events happened here this week... power pole gone... pantry done... and first window got installed.

The infamous rotten power pole finally got taken down.

It didn't take long to cut up that old cedar pole up for firewood and Shirley packed it off in the wheelbarrow to the wood shed.

You can see how rotten that old pole was.  It could not have been pushed over with my little tractor if it was sound.

The second noteworthy event this week was the completion of the pantry. All except the granite countertop... everything is done here.  On our next trip to Victoria we will pick up the granite and I can install it in just a few minutes.  On the interim a sheet of plywood serves the purpose.

But to get this pantry done was not all that easy for this do-it-yourselfer. Shirley took this photo after the first cabinet door was installed.  What we didn't know at the time was that once all the doors were on we could not pull out the drawers.  #*'%&#^!  Funny thing.  They worked just fine for the past week when the doors were not on and I was waiting to buy the last missing part to install the hinges.

What I didn't realize is that the hinges did not get the doors totally out of the way, and the glide tracks for the drawers hit the edge of the open doors.  I would have to remodel the drawers, make them an inch smaller and put this all back together again.  Chalk it all up to education... Cabinetry Class 101.

In the end the drawers worked out just perfectly.

For my first attempt at making cabinets, I should not complain about having to do something twice to get it right.

Shirley now has a place in the house to keep her bird seed containers... they are on wheels and roll out on the floor.  This section of the cabinet does not have an elevated floor or toe kick... and it allows access  for the crawl space hatch door.

Shirley is getting moved into her new refrigerator.

And her new freezer.  It was pretty tight to get these appliances into place... there was not more than an extra inch to spare.

On the right side of the pantry there is a place for brooms and mops...

And a place for the vacuum hose, attachments and shelves for other cleaning and hot tub supplies.

On the right side Shirley has shelves for a variety of Costco cases of drinks, cans of vegetables, fruits and other bulk purchased foods.

The third noteworthy event this week was the installation of the first window.  I still have to trim it with wider white cedar boards around it... and the Building Inspector will review my system of trimming and flashing around it before I do all 36.  We want to be sure that some little detail does not keep us from meeting code.

See the plywood over the skylight in the workshop?  Also note that old power pole is absent!

High winds one night this past week blew this skylight off... the roofers did this piece of roofing when we were in Cannon Beach for Thanksgiving and likely didn't screw it back down properly.  It will be easier to just buy a new skylight than to replace the plexiglass.

This is one of the huge branches that came down in the windstorm... we were lucky that no trees were blown over in the storm.  We have never seen such high winds since moving here.  It was one pretty scary night.

I was able to get some scaffolding from a neighbour here on Mayne Island, Don Berkley... and it will make installing the windows and shingle siding much easier.  After working in Mexico with the scaffolding there, these frames look brand new... and he has leg jacks and wheels... and there are other parts I still don't know what to do with.  Don has been living in Vancouver these past several months so he is close to the hospital... so he hasn't told me what those extra parts will do.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Construction Update January 15-21

What a week!

The week started with warm sunshine and soon turned to snow and cold.

Sunday I glued all the pantry tiles in place with thin set.

This is the crawl space access hatch.  It is about 22 inches square and if using 12" x 12" tiles it would take 4 tiles.  This photo shows how I used 30 pieces of tile... several with angles.  It's more like a piece of art.

This pantry is about 10 feet by 5.8 feet... 58 square feet... and it has 304 pieces of tile.  Every tile has been cut on at least two sides... several on three sides... for an estimated total of 760 cuts.  That is what one does for a piece of art.

When I was all done fitting the tiles here are the scraps of waste beside the saw.  Next to nothing left over.

Shirley helped me with mixing and washing up the grout.  Doesn't this look somewhat like chocolate?

We mixed up the total 25 pound bag of Mocha coloured grout... and we had to really stretch it to get this whole room finished.  I had hoped to also fix a grout joint between the tile and hardwood at my office door... but there was nothing left for me to do it.

No one was happier to see this job done.  Once the grout dries the colour will be a perfect match.

Since we had the access hatch cover off for the grouting process...

I decided that I would crawl under to insulate this crawl space.   The access would never be easier.

I also custom friction fit a piece of styrofoam for this access, since there is no easy way to do the fibreglass insulation for this hatch door.

Telus came this week and moved the phone lines over to the new service location on the back of the garage.  Very soon we will be able to push over that ugly pole that used to have the meter base... and this green pole will get removed by BC Hydro any day now.

Meanwhile it snowed several days in a row and with the blowing wind there was snow on everything in the carport.

So I had to sweep the snow off the table saw so that I could customize the boards to make the drawers for the pantry cabinet.

This week I finished the two drawers for the pantry cabinet... and installed them with full extension glide tracks.  I used the Kreg Jig tool to make the drawer boxes.  I would have had the doors installed by now... they are stained and lacquered ready to go... but I didn't realize that there is a mounting plate that didn't come with the European hinges.  It will take another trip to Home Depot to get the missing part.

I  believe this coming week we will have this room 100% completed.  As soon as we connect the power to the appliance plugs I will move the new freezer and refrigerator in to place.  The doors should go on easily enough... and I need another length of base board to stain and lacquer.  The counter top may also be ready and it will be pretty easy to set into place.

This past week I had a very interesting session with James Robertson, the building inspector in Victoria. He taught me about Blue Skin... which I will have to put around the bottom of the window rough opening.  He encouraged me to go look at some new houses under construction to see first hand how the builders were using Blue Skin and putting trim around the windows and doors... so we went to a new subdivision in Langford and a little walk around with my iPhone.

When I talked to him about the window detail for the trim boards I wanted to install around the windows, he taught me about several things to meet building code and emphasized making sure the flashing above the windows had an end dam.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Construction Update January 7-13

I have a lot to be grateful for this week... not the least of which was watching some incredible golf on TV. This week started and will end with golf tournaments in Hawaii.

It was 1995 when Shirley and I played on the Plantation Course where Steve Stricker won the Sony Open this past weekend.  What a wonderful golf course!  To see the scenery again on TV brought back some wonderful memories... like the birdie on No. 2 par 3.

This weekend it is fun to see more of Hawaii... the Wailea with it's famous #16 fairway.  I took this off the TV since it reminded me of the very first movie I ever saw in a theatre as a teenager... "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad World." I never have laughed so hard in my life... but it is under this Big W that the treasure is hidden in that movie.

On Monday I bought 64,000 pounds of coffee.  No, I don't plan to take delivery... it was on the advice of my futures broker, who told me that there is a seasonal opportunity on coffee, so I picked up a few contracts.  On Thursday he called me and said he thought we should sell it since it had gone up so fast, we should take profits and could likely buy it back for a lot less and still enjoy more lift... so we sold it all and I put in another order to buy it back at $10 less.  Sure enough the order was filled after hours Thursday night... so we are hoping it will be good for another run.

What a crazy business.  An old farmer living on an island buying and selling coffee on the telephone... and he never drinks any of it.  Does that make any sense?  ...128,000 pounds of coffee in a week!  I'm guessing that would be over a dozen grain trucks full of coffee beans.  Can you imagine how many pounds of coffee Howard Schultz buys for Starbucks every year?

Trivia:  Did you know that in the last 50 years the stock market has gone up 57% of the time on Friday the 13th?

This year it went down.

This week in the mail my Kreg Jig tool arrived... and it couldn't have come at better time.  I bought if off one of those TV Informercials that run in the middle of the night... i saw it when we were in Kelowna... and it finally came... it sure works slick.  I love it!

Here I am putting together the frame for a cabinet that goes in the pantry.

After drilling the pilot holes it is pretty easy to join pieces of wood with self tapping screws.

I put in all these shelves using the Kreg Jig system... and in less than five minutes after the shelves were in place Shirley was putting stuff on the shelves.

As you know Shirley's word for the year is "Patience..."   and mine is "Faster."  She needs to a little more patience... and I need to go a little faster!

I invented a hidden hatch latch this week.  Since the hatch is mostly under the cabinet, the latch to lift it would not look very pretty in the middle of the floor where we always will be walking.  So I made a simple latch that attaches to a wire the both hide in the crack along the side of the hatch lid.  There is a 10-inch drawer just under the counter top... so when we need to go down there... which is likely next to never... we can remove the drawer to give a little more space, howbeit still pretty skinny access.

The guy who put the stupid access hatch there didn't know there was going to be a cabinet over it.  We had a totally different layout in mind in the beginning... but Plan A didn't work.  Neither did Plan B or Plan C.  We are on Plan D now.  Why is that Plan A never gets built?  I guess we all have to start somewhere.

Another first for me is the aluminum L-trim that I put to keep the tile and grout in place when the hatch lid is moved.  This will keep the grout from getting chipped away if it gets bumped in handling when opening or closing.

On Wednesday we picked up our new refrigerator and freezer for the pantry.  I also brought 15 bags of insulation... and here the cowboy is roping them all tightly together for a safe trip home.  Every time we bring home another load I am thankful for our truck... it has done a lot of work for us.

On Thursday we were thankful to take delivery of our windows.  We had the liners stained... but since I neglected to specify the stain be sealed, we had them delivered into the cabin where we can Varathane them.

There are 36 windows in all... and at this point we have about 16 of them done.  That cabin has been a real blessing... it is great to have a place where we have heat and space to work.  Next year we hope to have heat in our garage... but that doesn't count for this project.

This is the bathroom window on it's side for sealing.  Vented windows take twice as long to do.

On Friday I ordered a granite countertop for the pantry cabinet... and just to be sure we get the same colour match, we are going to do a new laundry counter at the same time.  We did a lot of shopping for various countertops with pricing all over the place between $380 to $2,000 for just the pantry top in either Corian or granite!  No we didn't buy the $380 one... it was a remnant and not Tropical Brown... but it sure was tempting.  It just wouldn't have matched the rest of our countertops.

On Wednesday when we were in Victoria I just happened to see this place called Stone Trends in Sidney.  So I stopped and invited them to quote on our countertop.   I had just been to Capital Glass to have them fix a leak that we thought was coming from around the windshield.  Turned out the leak was because of a plugged drain hole in the sunroof.  Did you know that sunroofs have drainage?  Me either.

This next week I hope to see our pantry completed.  We will pick up the cabinet doors on Monday... which we will have to stain and then lacquer.  I have two drawers to build and install... and the floor tile to set and then grout.  I have most of the tiles cut out to fit... just seven square feet not yet done and that is the part under the refrigerator and the hatch access door.

My quote of the week is very appropriate for me.

"Some mistakes are way too much fun to make only once."

It seems far too often I find myself doing things twice or three times to get it right.