Tuesday, October 30, 2012

There will be quiet, after the storm

I can honestly say that having Hurricane Sandy downgraded to Hurricane Drizzle was a bit of a relief.

Hurricane Sandy rears its ugly head over New York Harbor. More or less vicious than bad-tempered, 12-year old Siamese cat Sandy?  News at 11.

In truth, this storm messed up the shore points and NYC pretty bad, which is a real shame. Luckily, the monster-themed storm did not turn out to be as destructive as originally projected.

"Meterologists": 99% wrong, 1% right

Back on the Occupy site, we enjoyed just a bit of basement water and acute power outages of only a few seconds each.  We are very thankful that the only real inconvenience was that I moved every tool and piece of lumber into basement Saturday for the bank appraisal, only to find out after the appraiser left, that there was a hurricane coming.   So I spent the whole day moving everything up to higher ground considering we have the potential to get a little water in the basement on hurricane occasions.  After all, South Philly is built on a swamp.  What were they thinking??

Anyway, we got lucky. Let's take a moment to reflect:

Saturday night was our first official night in the new master bedroom.  With the Hurricane coming the next morning, I was thinking about why I had renovated this room in the first place:  Hurricane Irene.

Stormin' through
Irene totally decimated Vermont, and along that path to destruction it put a hole in our roof.   Once I was getting water in the master bedroom, I sort of "bumped up" the priority of renovating the upstairs. With a full re-wire of half of the upstairs, new electric panel, re-framing a ceiling, and new walls, new built-ins, and new (excessive) trim... this became a big project. Especially when confined to nights and weekends.

Stock bedroom image: day after Hurricane Irene (2011)

I know what you're thinking: with that wallpaper, I should be sending Irene a thank you letter.  Regardless, I am thankful that in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the just-finished bedroom remained intact.

Stock bedroom image: day after Hurricane Sandy (2012), same angle as previous photo
I told my wife that if the new bedroom gets damaged after our first night in it, I will willfully walk myself into the mental institution.  She told me, "you won't have to walk, I'll give you a ride."

We are a good pair.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Bed Post Detail (router + paint)

I routed the posts one day after work. I don't know what to call this style, but I learning it while doing timberframing.  It goes best with very large rafter plates or collar ties, but I thought I would bring some of that part of my life into these posts

Router work, in the dark

I then brought the posts inside and began mocking up the headboard and footboard

mock up, trying to figure out what the best height would be for the door relative to post

Intersection detail

Routing profile detail

Another view

Coming up with a color scheme is always annoying, so I batted around a few ideas.  The cedar itself looks pretty good, but having a clean or stained wood next to some battered doors covered with years of peeling paint just didn't have the juxtaposition (architectural buzzword thrown in purposefully).

Since the room is gray, I thought blue might be a good option.  But all the samples were just too rich and bold. Even if you go with something muted, blue is still a very saturated color.  Thus, we decided on simple white (since I have a bunch of semi gloss white around, that didn't hurt) for the whole bed.  In truth, we live in a dingy row home with minimal natural light and tons of greenish-yellowish-brown wallpaper... These light colors are a welcome addition to this space

Primed with oil primer.  Latex paint is easy to clean up, but it sucks.

Posts in line, awaiting assebly
I promise this is the last post on posts.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Appraisal on Saturday. I'm screwed.

So much workcover-up to do in a such short amount of time, I'm not sure this refinance is going to go through.

Midnight oil? or scorched earth?

I should have [Ku]waited another week or so. Tomorrow will be insane.

Got a hellhound dog

My friend Joe gave me these beautiful 5-panel doors, and he said the back of one of the doors was pretty torn up by a previous owner's dog

Whoa, I hate to meet that dog in a dark alley!

I'm sure that I will have many restful nights knowing that my new bed has been marked by the one and only Cujo.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

New Tagline Ideas

After this weekend's thought-provoking post on taglines, I decided that it might be a good idea to randomize the official Occupy tagline.  I spent a whole five minutes brainstorming the taglines.  Then I spent about two hours writing some Javascript to mess around with it.  In truth I wasted most of the time trying to optimize the code. I probably should have used Ruby or Python (two other languages I really don't know).  Oh well.

Anyway, click below to randomly generate your own Occupy Wolf Street tagline

Copy and paste your favorite taglines in the comments. One at a time please, we don't want to overload Blogger's server!

My Design Center

Have you ever wondered where all this "high end" design work happens?  I know my loyal reader must be curious about the fun and dynamic environment at the Occupy headquarters.  Obviously, you are expecting an office that is funky, cool, and has a great creative atmosphere.  

My interpretation of my reader's mind's eye
Well, loyal reader, you're close.  Allow me to introduce....

The Official Occupy Design Center:

Ta-da! (Copyright 2012, all rights reserved)

This is the kind of place that really gets the creative juices flowing.  As you can see, I spared no expense on the designer chair by USG and comfy floor mat. (To be quite honest, I'm just happy that one room upstairs actually has electricity now--so I can actually plug in this computer!)  Our ergonomics lab has determined that 'leg room' is a highly overrated desk option.

Perhaps the only saving grace of my design center are these two items

Yes, this is where it all goes down.  As depressing as it may look, there is actually no better place to do some design work than the actual space you are designing.  The ability to get real-world dimensions quickly, observe the lighting at different points in the day, and absorb the overall feel of the room has no substitution.

I recently shelled out the money for the optional USG designer seat cushion upgrade.

I created the bed drawing and made all modifications about a foot away from where the bed will actually be. For what its worth, this is design/build at its finest!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Occupy Wolf Street tagline

I originally dreamed up this blog because I was too lazy to continually ftp pictures to my website, and creating the pages, etc. This is easier and has a great time stamping feature.  Upon this weblog's inception, I didn't really give the title or tag line much thought.

Recently, I realized that my tagline sounds a lot like the following quote:

Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration. --Thomas Edison

I really thought about changing it to the Edison quote.  Then I reminded myself of his public frying of an elephant and how he ripped off and ridiculed Nikola Tesla, so I think I will keep the tagline "as is".  Besides, I was trying to maximize the exploit of the 'occupy' theme anyway.

$50,000, due yesterday.

Even though we all know who won the war of currents, Tesla and Edison never really learned to live in harmony.  To that end, their alternating and direct current types never really learned to live in harmony either... or did they?

Five blokes from down under that might argue the above statement [1],[2]

Its a tough decision to turn down the Edison quote.  In fact, the first words out of my mouth as a child was "light bulb" (ask my mother, true story).  Even though I value calculation over brute force, I think  Edison would approve of my choice to not use his quote.  After all, you don't file 1.093 US Patents by copying and pasting quotes from someone else into your weblog.

[1] I came to this stream of consciousness tonight at my cousin's wedding, as the opening song on the dance floor was "you shook me all night long".  I was actually sitting there thinking 1) how does one dance to this song? and 2) why exactly did Tesla's AC power trump Edison's DC?  
[2] Back in Black was my first LP as a little kid. True story.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Wire (postscript)

In case you were wondering how I wired that switch, I hired a professional architectural draftsmen to re-compile the drawing for the electrical plans:

Believe it or not, I worked in some of Philadelphia's top architecture firms

Blue circle = All junctions and wires contained in the ceiling box
Blue square = All junctions and wires contained in the switch box
Red stuff = Shows how I fed both hot wires via wire nut to single wire, then gets juiced as the switch gets connected.

This way, I have the ability to hook up that fancy switch that controls both light and fan, as I have one black hot wire [white, re-coded to black] coming in and two receiving hot wires going back to control the fan and the light individually.   All I have to do is remove the wire nut.

PS: Technically, that wire nut is inside the switch box.  It was just seemed more clear to draw it this way instead.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

3 views of the bed, with dimensions

I promise some real pictures soon. But for now, the dimensions are final.



I walked the side rails home (two 8' pre-primed 1x8s) about 20 blocks today, along with my bike.  I had to take a couple breaks.  The worst part was that I had to urinate the whole time, so the breaks were more torture than relief!

Everything is cut, routed, painted.  This thing should be wrapped up very soon.

Bed Post Detail (update)

After messing with a few different designs, I decided to cut out that the routed notching around the entire post.

Old design

I thought it would be a "stately" looking detail, but I was too worried about getting significant tear-out by routing through the end grain that way.  I did a run on a practice piece and it looked mediocre.

Since  I don't want to waste the material (mainly because riding your bike with giant pieces of lumber is annoying and dangerous, but also because of the time & materials), I decided to go the safe route [pun intended] and simplify my design.  To that end, I was doing this in the dark out on the back slab, so anything that makes this easier helps.

New design

I also decided that routing that round on the bottom of the rosettes was an unnecessary detail.  I'm a bit of a details junky, so I'm going to commend myself on breaking a habit this round.  Maybe I'm just getting lazier (is that possible?!), but I definitely did not feel like building a jig to hold the rosettes as a went at it in the dark with at 3.5 HP router.

No, I don't own a router table.
Yes, my birthday is coming up.

This weblog is has its own funny time line.  I'm so far behind with posting on this blog, but it gives me a bit of satisfaction because when I hit the job site. Since there is often a multiple week lag between reality and blog-reality, I feel like I'm taking a time machine into the future when I put on my toolbelt.


... only the future looks like this:

I'm going to get back in my DeLorian now.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Occupy legal division

So, I come home from another awesome week at work the other day only to stumble over a thick letter from the Internal Revenue Service.


Basically, its a judgment paper asking me "how do I plea?" on a disputed charge.  The charge goes back to the settlement table when I decided to begin occupying.  The mortgage broker messed up the HUD-1 and cordially asked me to work outside the sheet, in order to cover his ass and continue with the closing.  I already had a pretty miserable time obtaining the house, so I took about a half hour to review the math, and decided that everything zeroed out so I continued with closing.

Big mistake.  That error has been haunting me to this very day.  So I consulted the legal department...

Being your own lawyer has its advantages: 1) the price is right and 2) see number 1.  The disadvantages are too long to list here.  Thus, I got hired for the job.

In doing some research into the occupy archives, I began taking notes and reconstructing a time line.  That timeline turned into a letter that I sent to the IRS to justify my defense.  I'm providing the "timeline of events" section for your entertainment.  We'll see how it goes.  Although it may seem pretty ridiculous, its real.

The players:
Borrower = me
Mortgage Broker = *I will withhold their name, even though I really don't want to * 

Let's just let the dust settle on this tax thing.  From our legal department and for your reading pleasure:

Timeline of events:
Day 1
On closing day, Mortgage Broker personnel reveal to Borrower that they have made an error on their portion of the HUD-1 (executed HUD-1 attached).  Mortgage Broker pulls Borrower into a side room for about a half hour to try to explain how they can rectify the situation by removing the $3717.78 Borrower owes on lines 802 which gives Borrower a credit on line 803.  Not wanting to call the settlement off, Borrower begrudgingly agrees to pay Mortgage Broker outside of HUD -1, as long as Mortgage Broker provides a receipt for tax purposes.  Borrower writes check to Mortgage Broker (attached).  Mortgage Broker agrees and is appreciative for Borrower’s willingness to cooperate.  Borrower vows to never deal with idiots of this caliber ever again.
Day 4
Mortgage Broker cashes $3717.78 check from Borrower (bank statement attached) 
Day 29
Mortgage Broker never provides receipt for this bizarre transaction, so Borrower begins to asking for receipt. 
Day 32
Mortgage Broker provides a written receipt (word document, attached) 
Day 272
Borrower realizes that a word document is not sufficient documentation for filing taxes and asks Mortgage Broker for 1098. 
Day 275
Borrower calls repeatedly to speak to representative at Mortgage Broker and does not get ANY phone calls back (email evidence, attached) 
Day 276
Borrower receives 1098 Mortgage Interest Statement from Mortgage Broker, showing that Borrower paid $3717.78 to Mortgage Broker for points paid on purchase of principal residence (1098 Attached). 
Day 301
Borrower files federal taxes with the IRS.  IRS acknowledges receipt. 
Day 851
Borrower receives package in the mail from IRS, with invoice for $895.  Borrower reviews page 7 on IRS document where it shows that Mortgage Broker has filed the money they received from the real estate transaction they claimed as 1099-MISC.  Instead of showing that Borrower paid Mortgage Broker, Mortgage Broker inaccurately claims that they have paid Borrower $3717.78.  See attached check from Borrower to Mortgage Broker, showing a debit from Borrower’s bank account. 
Day 853
Borrower spends hours digging up all the supporting documentation on this miserable transaction to justify his side of the story to IRS (a violation of personal code of ethics to never deal with idiots [Mortgage Broker] of this caliber again).  In doing so, Borrower types up this document for his own records.

Day 854
Borrower wishes a slow and painful death to Mortgage Broker, and prays that they do not procreate.

The occupy staff is available for all your tax law needs, on a sliding scale of course.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Wire

Unfortunately, this post is not about an action packed drama dealing with the ongoing battle between law enforcement and the drug trade in Baltimore.  Some days I wonder what is worse, the Baltimore projects or home renovation projects?

I'm kidding.

BUT--- Along those lines, I've realized that working night and day on a full house renovation is sort of like a heroin addiction (minus the euphoria):

1. You wake up every morning feeling like zombie
2. Your family and friends wonder why you have disappeared
3. It messes with your sleeping and eating patterns
4. Its a good way to flush your life savings down the toilet
5. No matter how much you do, it never really feels like enough

(alright I'll stop. This is too easy anyway)

I digress. Let's move on to our feature episode: THE WIRE

Seasoned Occupiers know that wiring is a much loved topic around here.  Its not that I think wiring is a "must-document" process (although, that doesn't hurt). I actually think that I'm not covered in plaster dust, joint compound, or paint so that I can actually touch the digital camera.

Let's take a look at our existing overhead light:

I wish this was final, then I wouldn't be doing any more wiring
As you can see above, there are three wires coming out of the ceiling.  The feed comes from a wall outlet on the front wall, and comes directly into the ceiling fixture before the switch.  For whatever reason, this seems to be my method of choice.  It as pretty easy to wire this way in this scenario, because the ceiling was open when I wired this room

Feed coming in from the outlet on the left, and continuing onto a switch to control it, and a final end -of-run wall outlet

So the three dangling wires in the previous picture are:
1. the feed
2. a 12/3 wire to control the fan+switch
3. the feed continuing on to power a final end-of-run outlet

Let's wire the switch first:

2nd hot wire capped and tucked away
Originally, I was going to wire one of those specialty switches here... it would take up the same amount of room as a single pole switch, but would have a little indexed slider to control the fan speeds.  I headed over to Billows Electric Supply on Washington Ave to see what kind of switches they carried (really just to get a price), but they pointed me to their "switch board". When I pushed them on the issue, they said those are likely a special order.  I was kind of unimpressed.  I know I have seen these before.  And I don't want to Decora or any new-fangled switch types either.  These new switches just don't seem to fit into an old house in my opinion.  Also, some of these things look repulsive.

Even if the sun burned out, I wouldn't touch this ugly monstrosity to put on the lights 

Well, let's bike down to [b]Lowes and Homey D to see if they have anything..

Hell freezes: the big box stores out-supply local and specialty stores

Ah well, looks like Depot wins with the conventional switch with indexed slider for fan for $22.  However, since I'm stubborn and cheap locally-minded and resource-savvy, I'll just wire this thing with a conventional switch since I already have a ten-pack at home.  Plus, let's face it: we will probably put the fan on when we sleep and just pull the chain right above us to adjust the speed.  Its likely that this type of wiring (a mere 3 feet away from the bed) is a total overkill anyway.

Am I losing you yet?  I know what you are thinking: "just wire the s.o.b. already!"  Here goes:

Since the feed comes into the light, re-purpose the neutral wire with some black tape, so future electricians know that  the white wire is hot coming from the lamp.

Five minutes later, we're wired.

Now let's switch gears to the ceiling.  First I will install the fan mounting bracket.  The electrical box itself is mounted on a metal bar that spans the studs, which should support up to about 50 lbs.

Recall this picture from the room's previous state.  Observe box on metal track between the existing ceiling joists, which I sistered to new load bearing ceiling joists that rest on the wall plates

Install mounting bracket

This actually gets pretty tight once you start stripping all the wires

I realized that things were getting fairly complicated with the 12/3 wire going to the switch.  I want to send power down to the switch box (from the fan control terminal) in case I ever decide to cough up the $22 to upgrade the switch.  I'll twist a wire nut on the red and black inside the switch box, then put that union onto the one terminal of the switch.  The other terminal will be the white wire (re-coded to black).

I know. It sounds confusing. Because it is.  Throw in that additional feed going to the outlet on the south wall, and you have a real complicated mess in the ceiling box.  I had to resort to a professional grade diagram.

Blue is the light control, and red is the fan control.  Not that it matters in the  way I finished this out.

OK- looks like we have to open up the switch box again

Wire nut goes on to the black and red, also throw in a jump wire to link us to the switch terminal
Its amazing how quickly the transition can be from 'complete dump' to ' bedroom'.  All it takes is one switch cover.

And we're wired.  The rest is just 'Ikea level' assembly of the fan.

This looks a little unbalanced

That's better!

Flip the switch.

The saga continues on the next episode of The Wire.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Occupy Stats

One of the joy/perils of modern life is this unrelenting access to data.

Some of these weblogs I enjoy reading like to share their stats every once in a while, to highlight some of their most popular stats of the season.

Since we have already shown you the stats, I will have to go a different route to keep you entertained.  Google Analytics and Google Webmaster.

Luckily, you don't actually have to care about your website to use these tools.  They are just floating out there on the interweb.

Let's take a look at readership

Looks like I need to provide some racier content, ASAP

Actually, I have no idea what the above chart is.  Its actually something called "impressions".  Much like my real life, my weblog doesn't seem to make a good one.

Let's take a peak at the key search terms:

Highlights are pre-highlighted, for your viewing pleasure

I could make plenty of jokes about these search terms, but these are just tee'd up a little too nicely.

I will say that this information age is not only amazing, but highly entertaining.  It's just annoying that every time I search for "tit clamps" I wind up back here.

Bed Post Detail

I can't find my camera cord, so I have no pictures to share, loyal reader.  However, since my sketchup is working just fine, I can provide some updates on how the bed is coming along nicely.

Actually, I have only cut the doors to size and sanded/prepped them.  I spent some time trying to figure out how I can make these bulky posts more elegant.

Due to constraints of the room, electrical outlets, size of the bed, and dimensions of the door panels, I had to cut the five panel doors down to four panel doors.  In order to make up the lost dimension in length, I had to use some rather bulky posts.  The cheapest S4S stuff I could find locally was some cedar at about  $14 per piece (4x4's).  Unfortunately, they look like posts for someones backyard deck.

I'm trying to figure out what I can accomplish with a router.  I'll probably soften the edges with a "stop"-style profile using a 45-degree angle bit, then sort of give a "notching" detail at the top to give the top some distinction.  Forgive me, fine woodworking. for not using the appropriate terminologies, I promise to clean up my syntax before I publish in your next issue.

Current concept:

I will cap with rosette

Another angle

Anyway, today was another long day, but this what I had time to squeeze in this evening.  (I even got up this morning to get a coat of paint on some tape damage I did this weekend!!)   When its time to do demolition on the next room in this house, I will leave my sledge in the toolbox.  Instead, I will simply bring the blue tape.  The most lethal weapon in my arsenal!!