Sunday, January 30, 2011

Welcome to

My new readers from the California State Teachers Retirement System, or CalSTRS, which as I have exclusively reported has nearly $1 billion invested in the Permira IV fund, the money behind the controversial strawberry fumigant methyl iodide. Controversial, and somewhat suspectly approved through a back-end run via emergency regulations and with what we believe to be the backing of very large amounts of lobbyist cash.

Thanks for reading. And through the power of Google Analytics, I know you have been. Maybe your time would be better spent figuring out how to divest from the fund. Or figuring out how to use a proxy server (my 13-year-old could teach you) so I don't know your web surfing habits.

For those of you who don't know what I'm taking about:

Friday, January 28, 2011

A Fast List

1. I've reached a point in the renovation process where I want to take a hit out on our contractor. Perhaps I can get a two-for-one deal and he and the fucktard architect can go in the same shallow hole.
2. I was standing outside the Argonaut Hotel in San Francisco, where I am attending the AAN (Association of Alternative Newsweeklies) web conference, having a cellphone conversation with Chuck and expressing my displeasure about our contractor. A woman walking a little white fluffy dog passed me; the dog snarled at me, lunged and quickly clamped down on my leg. The woman didn't notice and kept walking.
3. It was at this point that I completely lost my shit. "Hey! HEY LADY! YOUR DOG JUST BIT ME." She turned, she sputtered apologies. I stormed off.
4. Didn't break the skin. It just left weird little fang marks on my pants.
5. I took a walk around Union Square and down Market Street this evening. On Market, a large man unzipped and peed on the sidewalk as I walked past.
6. And that just sums up 2011 so far.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Living Underground

My dog appears to be having a nervous breakdown of sorts. He was very ill over Thanksgiving when someone (and I'm not pointing any fingers at Koly McBride), fed him fists full of turkey, ensuring the complete stoppage of his colon. The flow has resumed, but twice now since we took him to the vet the week after Thanksgiving, he's had these strange nights where he turns into that creepy little girl from "The Ring." You know which one ... "she never sleeps." And last night was one of those nights, where he sits and stares at the bedroom door, or paces and paces and then stares some more, then whines and scratches at the door to go out, and whines and scratches to come back in.

In short, the Oliver's kind of become an asshole.

Independent Suspension Ears

Speaking of nervous breakdowns, tonight we were fighting over the shower. Well, two of us were—me and eldest. He was tormenting me and tormenting me, and acknowledging he was tormenting me by saying, "For the half hour each day you're awake and here, I need to drive you to the point of a nervous breakdown." Meanwhile, Chuck and Oliver were in bed, Oliver gnawing on his stuffed flea and Chuck trying to prevent him from gnawing on his stuffed flea by wrestling it away from him. Much growling ensued. It's exactly how you want to interact with a dog who appears to be losing his mind right before bedtime.

There is water in my upstairs bathtub, which the Oaxacans installed last week before they left. Unfortunately there's no heat upstairs yet, otherwhise I would be in the tub, with a rubber duckie, a margarita and a trashy novel, avoiding the creepy little dog and the agitator teenage boys.

The Master Bath

Al and the Oaxacans are due in tomorrow, at which point they will begin texturing the walls. Three coats, sanded in between ... because the coat down here in the basement where we're living now, is cheap hotel with a touch of sleaze.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Seeing Red

Here is a picture of a cement ball. This cement ball was one of my Christmas gifts from my husband, who bought it after I suggested that I had fallen hard for a cement ball at Urban Farmhouse in Oldtown Salinas. I love this cement ball and it is going into my garden, when I have a garden. Looking at this cement ball makes me happy.

Cement Ball

Here is a not terribly comprehensive list of things currently making me unhappy: our idiot architect; our contractor; architects in general; the city of Salinas building department; contractors in general; famous architects of the 20th Century; building inspectors; anyone threatening to red tag our project; and, oh yeah, our idiot architect.

If he didn't live three hours away, I would drive to his house and kick him in the shins. You might remember him from previous posts. He's the one who told Chuck he didn't work for us, he works for our contractor and only takes direction from him.

This week, we find ourselves at the point of screw inspection. (Consider the irony.) The drywall is up, the screws are in place, the inspector was scheduled to come out and inspect the screws so Al and the all-Oaxacan construction team could commence taping and texturing.

Here is a picture of the drywall, pre-screw inspection.

Master Bedroom

Simultaneous to preparing for the screw inspection, our friend Grady was gathering his own team so they could come and shore up the garage. Built around 1900, the garage features a chimney, a canning room, a swiss cheese roof and feral cats. It looks like something from "The Road," albeit with fewer cannibals. The garage was to have been included in the plans. The plans the architect drew. Because Chuck told him, the garage needs to be included in the plans.

The inspector shows up yesterday to inspect the screws, sees Grady and the gang working on the garage and says something along the lines of, "What the fuck are they doing? You don't have a permit for the garage." Au contraire, says Chuck; it is on the plans, because I told the architect to put it there.

You can likely figure out the rest. It's not on the plans. Inspector comes back this morning and says, "It's not on the plans. You have until 4 p.m. to start the process of getting a separate permit for the garage or I am red-tagging the entire project." Upon hearing this, our contractor rounds up his crew and says, "Ok boys, we are OUT OF HERE for the rest of the week." Because Chuck surely isn't capable of getting the permit issue dealt with in four or five hours.

Oh yes he is. Yes. He. Is. Ten minutes later, he has a response from another guy in the Building Department (I guess I can't hate all of them) telling him what he has to do. The building guy tells him the email exchange officially launches the garage permit process and there will be no red tagging. The inspector comes back and signs off on the drywall screws, and that will be the last inspection on the house until the final. Contractor starts kvetching about starting work on the garage prematurely until Chuck, undoubtedly using the voice I like to think of as ex-Navy officer, tells him: "The screw inspection was supposed to happen three days ago, and the garage was supposed to be included on the plans by your idiot architect. Had you been on time, and had the architect done his job, none of this would have happened."

Chuck needs a drink. I need this project to be done.

My other Christmas present was the Lego architecture kit, which includes an 800-plus piece set of Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater. (I'm an architecture junkie.)

Once I finish building it, I am going to put it on a shelf in the library, and attach a little red tag to it.