“Torn” Mime Redux

I have a soft spot in my heart for “Torn”. It was really big when Mich and I visited Australia back in 1999. All up the gold coast we heard the song again and again as we listened to the radio (and, admittedly a lot on tape too).

Years later, when I saw the Mime version of “Torn” I thought it was hysterical. I think it takes a great amount of class to accept a humorous interpretation of your work, but to embrace it totally like this puts Natalie in a special category by herself…

Renovation Final Accounting

OK, all the bills are in and I finally have a picture of the total, final cost of our renovations. You can jump to the end if you want to see the gory details right away…

Recall that we did the following:

Moved the water heater from the laundry room to it’s originally plumbed location in the middle of the house and updated it to a tankless Rinnai heater:


Updated the master bath from













And changed the master bedroom window from


to (and painted the room and trim)


and added end tables


Updated the guest bathroom (sorry, no good before pix 🙁 )




Updated the Laundry room to get rid of the partial wall hiding the water heater and replaced the floor, repainted the wall and added wider shelves:

I can’t BELIEVE I don’t have a decent before shot, here’s an in-progress picture to try to give an idea of how it looked before:


and after





– New dresser for the master bedroom

– Can lights in the great room

– Accent lights in great room (on dimmer)

– Can lights in the kitchen + re-zoned the lights so that 3 areas of kitchen are controlled separately.

– Lighting fixture in the dining area (on dimmer)

– Added a fan with a timer where there was none in the 1/2 bath

– Routed all exhaust fans out through the roof (rather than into the attic as the existing ones had been set up)

– Sealed the accent tiles on our patio which were crumbling due to moisture / freezing. Tommy found a great sealer for this. We’d already tried to seal this ourselves with one recommended by the stone folks.

– Repainted the chimney and flashing

– Touched up paint around garage door

– Cut and installed mirror in gym, removed high wall-mounted 28 inch console TV from gym

– Created support for gym window-mounted air conditioner and cleaned, re-aligned windows

– Swapped out all switches and outlets in hallway and master bedroom for “Decor” style versions

– Replaced most hinges in house with brushed nickel ones. Painted some that we could get away with.

– Installed those cool magnetic door stops

– Pressure washed the exterior of the house

– Lots of little fixes as they found things that needed fixing

– Relocated outlet, phone and satellite coax outlet in TV room into closet so we could start new project of updating that room


Note that most lighting in our house, that is NOT on dimmers, is compact flourescent. I’m just waiting for dimmable CFs to replace those remaining ones but there are plenty of times you want a low light (late night, early morning) for ambiance.

The final cost?

We had estimated, with generous buffers, that this was going to cost us about $36,000.

The total actual cost was…. drumroll … $58,700. This is very close to the 50% MORE that you are warned that such projects are going to cost than you estimate so we were not overly surprised. Having folks in the house who have the skills to effect relatively major changes in short order is very tempting and we did succumb to the temptation on several occasions where we realized that we would REALLY not be happy if we didn’t pursue a particular trail. i.e. we originally did not plan to do ANYTHING with the laundry room. But once the reality of the void of the hot water tank presented itself we realized that it would make no sense to leave that room looking so shabby. Similarly, decisions were made throughout the project – adding a fan to the 1/2 bath, having custom end tables made, etc. that we did not plan for originally but made a LOT of sense while we were in the midst of things.

If you want to see where the money went, here’s an overall accounting in PDF format.

Ask us if we would do this again if we knew what we know now and I’d say “Definitely Yes”. Everybody we worked with was great. Tommy and Larry are two highly skilled, competent and reliable masters of their respective crafts. They had many practical suggestions when we were venturing into new territory (for us).

Most of the other folks we worked with were brought in on Tommy’s recommendation and we were comfortable with everybody we worked with being both in our house and working with our wiring /plumbing / cabinetry.

Tommy and Larry’s contact information is here.

The electrical work was done by Wayne of Precision Electric Co. (770-207-1444)

And the plumbing work was done by Northlake Plumbing Service, Inc (770-921-2046) these folks we had the least contact with as I needed to be out of the house on business but what I did see I was comfortable with.

I’m a Stranger Here Myself

I'm a Stranger Here Myself

I’m a Stranger Here Myself by Bill Bryson

Lent to me by a friend I read through about the first third of this offering by Bill Bryson and found I simply could not get into it. Written in the spirit of Dave Barry, Mary Roach and maybe Erma Bombeck, it is intended to draw humor from the little idiosyncrasies of daily American life as seen by an expatriot returned from years in the U.K.

Where I find Dave Barry’s turns of phrase highly amusing I tend to find Bill’s commentary more rankling than amusing. Each article highlights some aspect of American life that I find less than satisfying and the commentary, though trying to be amusing, simply comes off as frustrating.

Death by Field Trip: A Foxtrot Collection Death by Field Trip: A Foxtrot Collection

Death by Field Trip: A Foxtrot Collection
Death by Field Trip: A Foxtrot Collection by Bill Amend

I’m still torn between purchasing anthologies of my favorite comics or to purchase the smaller “Themed” collections that invariably come out. Either way you will end up missing *some* of the work. It’s a nuisance and just needs to be decided which you’d prefer.

It’s certainly more cost effective to buy the larger anthologies, it seems that you get plenty more comics for your buck. But there is charm and completeness in the smaller collections as well.

Unfortunately this nice little collection was almost completely contained within one of the other Foxtrot anthologies that I already own. So I can’t really say too much about it except to say that I’d *really* prefer it if the book producers would just make it easier for us to purchase the product without imposing the penalty of overlap on us…

Evolution is not just a theory

Evolution vs CreationismWow, I was put onto this by Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy blog. It’s a cogent and pithy description of what the word “Theory” really means in the context of science.

Someday I hope we’ll all get on board and move out of this “mini dark age” that we’ve saddled ourselves with.

Evolution is Not Just a Theory: home

I record Jay Leno’s “The Tonight Show” mostly for the “Headlines” feature on Monday nights which I find amusing. Sometimes, however I’ll stop and inflict “Jaywalking” on myself. It’s too gruesome, like a terrible car wreck you are drawn toward it. I realize this segment is edited to be more amusing. For some reason folks being intelligent isn’t entertaining, so we see a stream of functionally illiterate morons come across the screen. Folks absolutely ignorant of basic science, history or even current events. But they all seem to know about Nascar and wrestling…

The Rain in Georgia

The irony of this picture and our current water restrictions is not lost on me.

During a recent downpour with virtually no wind I noticed that the water was coming onto our patio even with an overhang. That’s how much water was coming down. This picture is showing our SCREENS as being nearly solid with water…


Things could be a lot worse, my friend Mike, in Australia, was telling me how they now have limitations in Melbourne on how long their showers can take (3 minutes). I’m not 100% clear if that’s a recommendation or if they’ll try to enforce that somehow…

Minor changes to the Gym and Mich’s Office

We’re walking through the rest of our house and clearing a way a bunch of the clutter that we’ve accumulated over the years.

I really can’t believe that I don’t have any decent “before” pictures. You always *know* you have some so don’t bother taking any and then realize later that you really didn’t have anything suitable.

So here is the “After” layout of the Gym. We removed the 28″ console TV we had mounted on the wall near the ceiling as well as the nearby wall-mounted stereo/VCR (that dates it nicely) rack. We also had the old mirror from the guest bathroom cut and mounted on the wall, pulled in one of our now-obsolete bedroom bureaus and rearranged everything.

We were wanting to replace the flooring with something more gym-like, but the prices proved prohibitively high. It was going to take about $3,600 to have such installed. I looked around and really wanted to have some 3/8″ “Triump Sports Flooring” from Johnsonite installed. It seems ideal for this application. Maybe next project…

So instead we elected to have our carpets cleaned and just make use of the mats that I already owned to provide proper exercise surfaces and to prevent the sweat from saturating the carpet. Probably the next big project we undertake will be to replace the remaining carpeting in the house with wood and/or tile flooring. Ah to have infinite resource (read “money”)…
Here is the view as you come in through the door off of the hallway


The TV used to be mounted about where you see the white disk of the clock on the wall.

Panning over you can see the exercycle and treadmill. I’m much happier with the treadmill oriented this way. It’s much safer in case of a slip or fall.


Here you can see the air conditioner, which Tommy and Larry supported for us so that there would be less strain on the window frame. It’s also MUCH better insulated now than it used to be.


Here you see the bureau with the stereo now mounted on it. You can also see Mich’s office in the back there.

Finally a back view where you can see the doorway to the hall and the mirror from the guest bathroom.


Mich’s office hasn’t changed a great deal, but the desk is now oriented differently (no longer in front of the window), and she’s pulled in the bookcase that used to be located in the bedroom.


I can’t get her to part with her drafting/art table yet so I’m hoping she’ll start actually using it for it’s intended purpose rather than just for storage. We’ll have to see..


We’re overall very happy with the house and are working to make it all more conducive to how we like to live. Less clutter and more focused rooms.

Renovations – Turner General Contracting Contact Info

I’ve been asked by several folks now how to get in touch with Tommy and Larry.

Turner General Contracting is the name of Tommy’s company, he and Larry work together and they did most of the renovation work that you saw for the “Master Bathroom/Laundry Room / Guest Bathroom updates”.

Contact information from the business card is:

Turner General Contracting (Since 1950)

Specialized Painting

Renovations – Repairs

Room Additions

Decks – Pressure Wash

Complete One Stop Maintenance

Tommy Turner – 770-654-4551