New way of doing politics needed – or Skeletor for president

This is about a generation off of my feelings about the choices being offered (missed “Skeletor” by a few years).

We really need to be able to vote much more granularly than along so-called “party lines”.

Everything comes as a package deal with a little bit that you agree with and then a whole lot that you absolutely don’t endorse.

Maybe future politics can be like fantasy football, you pick the position you want endorsed for each issue and create your ideal fantasy political party. The majority position for each issue (within the constraints of the constitution) is used as the direction for your elected officials who act as agents rather than leaders.
I think we can all agree that true leadership and vision is something our Federal and State representatives discarded a long, long time ago.

At least with Skeletor, he’d be up front with his motives…

Posted under Opinions

This post was written by Marc
on March 31, 2012 at 4:37 pm

2012 Home Renovations – Part 19 – Sealing the Deck, Start of Modular Retaining Wall

Arriving home after 5 days down South we were greeted with a VERY strong smell. I was thinking “Geez, what did the cat eat this time?”. But the answer came to us when we peeked out into the back and could see a couple of small barrels of sealant that still sitting on the patio. As of these pictures the first coat of sealant had been applied to only a portion of the deck.

The initial pour of the stairs was also done. There is a fair amount of work ahead to smooth them out and ensure that they are properly leveled. I was surprised to see how well the cement captured the patterns from the mold planks.

The overview gives you a sense of the pattern and subsequent cutting that we opted for. I’ll take closer pictures of the deck once the sealant application is complete. I was somewhat concerned that the 3 x 3 foot cutting would look too industrial (like a public swimming pool) but I think this size, at the suggestion of the concrete guys, really complements the space.

Below we can see the very gradual ramp that was crafted to rise up from the deck level to the shed slab level.

And looking from the driveway toward the shed and pool you can now see the driveway and patio make their curvy way to the shed.

Here are a couple of pallets of boulders that will be used at the West end of the yard to control erosion and to provide a transition from the hill to the pool retaining wall. If you look at the first picture in this post, the boulders will go roughly where the end of the blue pipe is located in the center of the image between the juniper and the wall.

And below we have the modular block retaining wall taking shape. This will support the additional dirt base that will help re-slope the driveway to allow for the top of the driveway to be on less of an angle than before. Also this will allow us to widen the driveway somewhat to make parking easier when we have guests.

2012 Home Renovations – Part 18 – Finally, the deck pour

2012 Home Renovations – Part 20 – Modular Retaining wall continues

 

 

Posted under On the Home Front

This post was written by Marc
on March 29, 2012 at 8:48 pm

2012 Home Renovations – Part 18 – Finally, the deck pour

Things continue to proceed rapidly. So fast, in fact, that my contractor is slowing things down a bit to allow time for us to make decisions about colors and patterns now that we’ve got some of the reality of our project in front of us.

I was not at all sure, with the weather forecasting rain in the near future, that the deck pour would happen today.

Today also happened to be the day we were to head out of town to visit relatives in Florida. Just as we were packing up to go, the trucks all started arriving and soon we had a back yard teeming with people and equipment as they prepared for the pour.

Poor Michelle wanted us to be on our way but… who can resist the lure of a cement pour?

So I watched as the majority of the back was poured and they were even part way into stamping the concrete before we had to finish loading up the car and head on our 10 hr drive to the South.

The pour begins

Almost immediately it needs to be leveled

And carefully smoothed and brought to the edges. That’s Stacio in the center (I hope I’m spelling his name correctly) making sure that the concrete is seated into the coping form correctly.

Here, as the cement is smoothed, the releasing agent is added

And here is the cement truck pouring its load into the pumper that is delivering the cement to the back yard. That’s Michelle in the foreground being ever so patient waiting for me.

2012 Home Renovations – Part 17 – More Deck Pour Prep

2012 Home Renovations – Part 19 – Sealing the Deck, Start of Modular Retaining Wall

Posted under On the Home Front

This post was written by Marc
on March 28, 2012 at 8:44 pm

Bank of America: Too Crooked to Fail

This article in Rolling Stone’s online magazine does not at all surprise me and only confirms my own experiences and opinion of Bank of America.

This little snippet pretty aptly sums up the character of this corporate behemoth.

Take your eyes off them for 10 seconds and guaranteed, they’ll be into some shit again: This bank is like the world’s worst-behaved teenager, taking your car and running over kittens and fire hydrants on the way to Vegas for the weekend, maxing out your credit cards in the three days you spend at your aunt’s funeral. They’re out of control, yet they’ll never do time or go out of business, because the government remains creepily committed to their survival, like overindulgent parents who refuse to believe their 40-year-old live-at-home son could possibly be responsible for those dead hookers in the backyard.

As always, you need to take what you read from ANY source with a grain of salt, however I have always felt that if you deal with them, you really deserve what you get.

I’ve made my views clear in the past

Bank of America – What’s not to trust?

Who do you love to deal with, and who do you not?

 

 

Posted under Opinions

This post was written by Marc
on March 22, 2012 at 12:42 am

2012 Home Renovations – Part 17 – More Deck Pour Prep

They say the devil is in the details and there are a whole lot of little details that are being dealt with both by the contractors and by Michelle and me.

Final decisions have to be made for the color of the concrete and the way we want it cut – we’re doing a stamped concrete deck and we can have just about any size and orientation “tile” look cut into it.

More germane to the actual pour is the actual finish for the coping around the pool. The forms that were provided from DesJoyaux were pretty attractive but not very flexible. I saw the resulting corners at another of their installations and did not like how it had to be implemented. We’ve opted for more of a rounder, quasi-bull-nose-that-tapers-at-the-bottom design that also will offer the flexibility to allow the kind of corners I think will complement the pool nicely.

Final position for the Bar-B-Que has to be determined now since that will drive where the gas fitting will be placed in the deck.

Starting with the usual patio shots, you can see the forms for the pool stairs have been added

Below you can see a tiny white piece of the coping form now attached to the pool kitty corner to the ladder to help us visualize what the final edge will look like.  Note that the gas line has now been buried. I’m still a bit concerned, the line was pressurized to 15 psi on Sunday and it’s now down to 13.5 psi. The gas line is one of the few lines that we are NOT laying down in a pipe.  I need to ask Rich why this is so at our meeting tomorrow.

The deco drain has been laid around the perimeter of the deck and tied in to the drainage pipes leading to the new catch basins. In the top left of the picture the final location of the drain for the downspout that will come off the super gutter has been determined.

A closer view of the stairs. The  top two stairs are 16 inches deep. The first is that size because it seems less daunting to have such a big stair when you’re stepping into the pool, the second because we anticipate using it to sit on a lot.  Michelle has the idea that this is where people will want to hang out. The final two stairs are utilitarian only and are just a foot deep each.

As I look at the design I have a mild pang of regret that we did not put the stairs in the middle of the pool directly accessible as you walk out from the shaded part of the patio. But Michelle wanted the stairs to be very wide, and the small change of putting the stairs there would have resulted in about 4 more feet needing to be carved out of the hill. Which would likely have required a taller retaining wall, etc, etc. So we ended up compromising and I think the resulting location will work well.

The obligatory overview shot lets you see the deco drains in context. The deck will be gently sloped away from the pool all around to feed these rather than having the dust from the deck swept into the pool every time it rains.

Here we see the design of the patio transitioning to the walkway and again to the ramp up to the shed

elegantly formed and ready for the pour

2012 Home Renovations – Part 16 – Pool deck area ready for pouring, All patio walls removed

2012 Home Renovations – Part 18 – Finally, the deck pour

 

Posted under On the Home Front

This post was written by Marc
on March 21, 2012 at 8:37 pm

2012 Home Renovations – Part 16 – Pool deck area ready for pouring, All patio walls removed

Continuing to take advantage of the good weather, the guys worked on Saturday and got a whole lot more accomplished that both brings us closer to the deck pour next week and prepares us for the inspections that will be happening Monday.

The remaining patio walls were all removed, here is an expanded 4 shot sequence showing the new openness (ignoring the temporary supports) that will grace the shaded part of our new lanai

And the overview that lets you clearly see the rebar that will be included in the deck pour

The bonding is also complete around the pool

The form is mostly complete plus the rebar is in place for the monolithic footing on the West side

And a better shot of the driveway. There is so much more usable space there without the air conditioner condenser in the way.

And the dirt pile… it looks to be on track to be just enough to build up the driveway per our plan.

2012 Home Renovations – Part 15 – Rest of driveway by house removed, Electrical, Gas and Water Returns in place

2012 Home Renovations – Part 17 – More Deck Pour Prep

Posted under On the Home Front

This post was written by Marc
on March 20, 2012 at 9:05 am

2012 Home Renovations – Part 15 – Rest of driveway by house removed, Electrical, Gas and Water Returns in place

No shots from the existing patio today since you can’t see much change from there. But here we have a shot showing one of the trenches that were dug on either side of patio in preparation for the monolithic pour. Lanai supports will be bolted to this footing.

and on the East side

and the bird’s eye view putting everything in context

Much of the Electrical Gas and Water conduits have been roughed in. The $1400 gas line needed some tweaking in order to hold pressure. Below you can see a pressure gauge on the white heater supply and return pipes. They were sealed and about 5 psi of air  put into them after all the back filling and tamping were complete to ensure that there were no leaks introduced. This way we can repair them NOW before the deck is poured if something got damaged. Likewise the hyper expensive gas line – that thick black piping immediately to the left of the heater pipes – has a gauge at the far end that was showing a small leak. This was eventually traced to the fitting not being quite tightened properly on this end. It is now hosting 15 PSI of nitrogen to see if it can hold the pressure. I understand that the gas line pressure will normally be closer to about 3 PSI on this side of my meter.

Here the gas line trench lies open waiting for county inspectors. I have about 4 inspections pending that should all happen on Monday.

Just an overview of the house with the rest of the driveway and the former patio slab removed. The end of the plain concrete driveway will now be right about where Michelle is standing. From there everything will be stamped concrete to match the pool deck to make this area an outdoor patio / planter area.

And, of course an obligatory shot of the ever smaller dirt pile

2012 Home Renovations – Part 14 -Backfill of pool retaining wall complete

2012 Home Renovations – Part 16 – Pool deck area ready for pouring, All patio walls removed

Posted under On the Home Front

This post was written by Marc
on March 19, 2012 at 3:55 pm