Wednesday, June 30, 2010

After Doctor Update

So the doctors have cleared me. The pee isn't going to kill me. They hope.

That said, not much to offer today. The carpets were installed on the third floor yesterday, despite having no electricity. Still.

Here are a couple of shots:

Another item of interest found on the back of the installers' van:

Jesus is indeed the water of life.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

"Amber": Based On True Events

I often am faced with decisions when writing this terrible blog. Usually those decisions entail what to omit and what to write about. I sometimes wonder (no I don't, but I should) if I am too harsh on the people whose exploits I am writing about. I usually (always, as far as I know) decide to write about said exploits anyways, because this is a blog about my real, actual life. If someone in my real, actual life does something I deem stupid, funny or both, I write about it. This blog is to remind my future self of the ridiculous, frustrating and stupid things and people that are a part of my life right now. Because of this, I decided when I started writing to include as much as I possibly could.

The following is the only thing I gave actual, legitimate consideration to omitting, for reasons obvious. I decided against omitting it however, because it happened in my, again, real, actual life. Enjoy.

Oh, and I decided to write it as a short story because I felt like it.

A short tragicomedy by Ryan Topham

You couldn't say that progress had slowed, because no progress had even been made.

In the early morning on Saturday, a gangly, bespectacled man, bound up and down the stairs of his dilapidated, relatively newly purchased property; a rehabilitation project. Not lost on him was the stifling heat. With each trip up the winding rear staircase, he noticed the rise in temperature; each floor was successively hotter than the previous and the frayed collar on his ten year old high school baseball cotton tee was beginning to saturate.

"Man was not meant to work in this heat," he thought to himself, wiping the sweat from his shining forehead. In attempting to bring everything needed to cover a kitchen floor in vinyl, he had made three trips up to the proverbial penthouse of his building. Each ascent accompanied by a percentage of the necessary tools: various cleaning agents and instruments, cutting tools, straight edges and finally the heavy boxes of vinyl flooring.

The heat and humidity of the day, coupled with the labor associated with lugging implements and materials up three flights of the twisting staircase had resulted in the aforementioned collar saturation. Sweat was dripping from seemingly every expanding pore on his body.

While his body was doing its best to cool itself down, the constant release of ounce upon ounce of sweat had only succeeded in making him thirsty. Thankfully, knowing how incredibly hot it was outside, and indoors, and knowing what kind of work was to be done, he had come prepared.

Peering into the dirty kitchen to survey the work ahead of him, trying to recollect if what he brought upstairs matched the list of materials he needed, he absentmindedly reached down for a bottle. Taking it from the makeshift workbench of plywood stretched across two sawhorses in the middle of the room, he unscrewed the blue Dasani brand bottle cap and raised it to his lips.

Expecting a rush of cold to combat the heat radiating from his mouth, he poured in the liquid. Hoping to extend the cooling, he swished the elixir around his mouth a single time.

One. Single. Swish.

In that time, the time it took for the liquid to touch the entirety of his mouth's interior, the synapses in his brain began to violently rebel and screamed at his tongue to eject the liquid. Realization came upon him quickly and he immediately performed a spit take the likes of which Martin Short would be proud of.

Looking across the room, horrified, the bottle he had brought, the label soaked through with condensation, seemed to mock him. Lunging for the bottle, as well as a granola bar next to it, he twisted the cap off and poured a mouthful. Furiously pushing the clear, cold water into every crevice of his mouth, he tried frantically to remove any trace of the previous bottle's contents.

Spitting out the fresh water onto the filthy blue carpet, he took a second swig. Water and granola in hand, he sprinted down the curling back staircase once again while tearing open the cheap bar's red and reflective silver packaging, swishing all the while. Reaching the first floor, he spit out the second mouthful while exiting the building.

Landing with a splash on the cracked asphalt of the driveway, the water had not yet removed every trace of the bitter, unmistakable aftertaste from his mouth. Controlling his revulsion and the accompanying nausea, he quickly discarded the bar's torn packaging and, like a starving animal, devoured the sugared granola and chocolate snack, hoping the more powerful taste of cocoa would overwhelm his taste buds. After a purposefully extended session of distressed chewing, he reluctantly swallowed and followed the bar with a clear water chaser. Exploring his mouth mentally for any foul traces, it appeared as if the water rinse and chocolate combination had worked.

Freed of the rancid taste, and slowly retracing his steps back up to the third floor, he laughed. Not uproariously, nor happily, but the kind of laugh reserved for those times a liberal is forced to hear a racially insensitive joke and respond somehow in the company of longshoremen: a nervous trio of short, quiet, disbelieving laughs in quick succession.

Reaching the wet carpet of the third floor living room, he recalled how not ten minutes before reaching for that blue tinted bottle on the workbench, he had snapped a photograph of it. He deemed the contents of that bottle worthy of writing about on his barely visited and generally witless home renovation web log. That the memory escaped him when originally reaching for what he thought would be refreshment was, and remains, one of life's oft spoken of "little mysteries".

By now, dear reader, I'm sure you have some idea what happened. If not, I will reveal to you that photograph and with it, the proof of what was tasted but thankfully not ingested:

The amber urine of carpenter Jeff Gagnon, aka, "Crazy Jeff Doors".

When Did You Run Into Will Smith?

During this past weekend, the first real hard work done by Amanda and me was started. I am now very very sore and regret getting out of bed on Saturday. That said, here's what went down:

Saturday - I headed over to the house, after some continental breakfast from the ever damp Ramada Inn, with a bunch of stick on vinyl tile. I planned on covering the third floor kitchen, um, floor with it. It was, and remains ugly.

You may not have worked with stick on vinyl tile before, and in case you haven't, I will let you know how much prep work is necessary before actually starting to lay the tiles down: lots. You have to make sure that the floor you are laying the tiles down upon is clean. If you stick these tiles to a dirty surface, the tiles will stick to the dirt, instead of the intended surface. Eventually, the tiles will start to pop off of the floor and you have to start all over again.

To avoid the above, I made sure to clean the crap out of the floor. As you can see, it was filthy:

I first removed the old baseboard heater covers/mounts, which had all kinds of gross crap behind them (including kitty litter) and threw them into the dumpster outside. Once those were removed, I swept the floor followed by some hands and knees cleaning with a scrubber and some paper towels. Once the floor was dry, I measured the room out (to find the center of the floor, where you are supposed to lay the first tile) and dug into the first box of tiles.

After cleaning for a couple of hours and laying tiles for a few more hours, Amanda came by and we ate some lunch. After lunch, we got back to work laying the rest of the tile, including the weird cuts along the walls and floor cabinets, and finally finished. After 6 or so hours of work, the kitchen looked 10 times better. Not too bad (but still kind of/very ugly):

I climbed into the car as quickly as my swollen knees would allow (not quickly) and we called it a day.

Sunday - As I mentioned earlier, the carpets are scheduled to be installed tomorrow. In order to get the carpets installed, the rooms that the carpets are going into need to be clear of furniture/crap and have the current carpets removed. On Sunday, Amanda and I went over there with the intention of clearing out two of the three rooms (one room has all of Jeff Doors' tools in it, so it will have to wait until after work today).

We removed the furniture, the baseboard heater hardware and the completely disgusting carpets. When doing this work, we found some awesome stuff. Here are a couple of things we deemed awesome enough to take pictures of.

A nice reminder (with swears!) about the previous owners, and The Dude Kevin specifically:

And an interesting DVD (censoring mine):

That DVD is disturbing. I'm sure the previous owner is heartbroken about losing it behind a baseboard heater...

Here's a fun before and after.

With carpet/hidden porn:

Without carpet/hidden porn:

The best part about tearing out the old carpeting was not having to drag it down three flight of stairs. Instead, we got to wrestle with it and throw it out the window. It landed with a satisfying thud and dust cloud. The dust cloud has since settled (and yes, in case you forgot, the house next door is purple):

A reminder: The work we did over the weekend is very hard work, physically taxing. I dislike hard work a lot. I am very sore today. It stinks.

The hard work, which I detest, was not the worst part of the weekend. The worst part of the weekend will be retold tomorrow in short story form. You should begin looking forward to it.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Minor Update(s)

In electrical current news, the electrician sent along a text this morning letting me know that he got the Work Request number from National Grid and has passed it along to the Inspector. The Inspector now has to call national Grid to tell them everything is OK. I may get electricity some day. I don't know. I am not hopeful.

In carpeting news, I sat in The Home Depot yesterday for half an hour waiting for elderly people to purchase carpet. Once they were finished and had been yelled at by the clerk (not in a bad way, but in a 'the people I am talking to have poor hearing' way), I got to pay for the carpet that I wanted. I put the $1,057 on my awesome Home Depot card and await a call from the installers. Huzzah.

In off-putting Home Depot employees news (I wrote about another horrifying employee a while ago), I was helped during a different transaction a few days ago by a woman who had somehow split the tip of her thumb. In what I assume was a machinery accident, the tip of her right thumb was split down the middle and had healed without the sides of the split rejoining. What was left was a big gap in the middle (duh) and two tiny, but perfectly manicured thumbnails. On the same thumb. It was disturbing yet incredibly interesting looking. I need to purchase a hidden camera. Or get a reality show. I choose reality show, as they pay more than hidden cameras.

In replacement window news, the replacement windows I ordered came in yesterday. I have to wait until the 6th of July to get them installed because next week is apparently a short week for the installers. Crap to that.

In Crazy Jeff Doors news, Crazy Jeff Doors has learned to text. Poorly. Every once in awhile I receive a text message from him about his work or what he is doing or whatever. This is the text I received from him yesterday evening: Hey RYAN I DID ALL THE KNIT PICKY CRAP TODAY I HAVE QUESTIONS call me in the AM OK KIRK OUT. Most (all) of his texts have been like this. They are incredibly hard to read, but amusing nonetheless. Also, Kirk out?

Bonus Crazy Jeff Doors news: He worked at the house yesterday. Before he went to the house, he was with his Probation Officer. He never tells me anything about why he is late or going to be late, but he felt the need to let me know that fact. I love Crazy Jeff Doors.

In expensive purchases unrelated to the house news, I purchased an expensive laptop yesterday. I have been meaning to wait on purchasing said laptop, but Dell had a pretty great sale yesterday, so I caved. Why do you care? Because I purchased it with photo-editing and video-editing in mind. It is a beast of a computer and will make video editing much easier. That should lead to some good videos for this blog. Hooray?

Lastly, in researching expensive purchases unrelated to the house news, I researched all kinds of different laptop brands before deciding yesterday. Included in that search, and usually thought of as the standard for video editing, was the Apple MacBook Pro. How do people buy these things? I just don't understand it. From Dell, I got a monster of a laptop for more than one-thousand dollars less that an inferior performance-wise (not looks wise of course) MacBook. It isn't just marginally worse performance wise, it was significantly worse. You hipsters are the worst. And you have no logic center in your brain. And you, for some reason, keep Asics sneakers and the fixed gear bicycle industry afloat. Tards. I could go on and on about these horrible, style-over-substance people, but this post for minor updates has dragged on far too long already. Hopefully, however, I will have an awesome picture of a hipster bike for you in the near future. A hipster here at work sometimes rides it. It is incredible. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Richard Who Gives Me Money

Yesterday afternoon, I headed over to the house for a bunch of different reasons. The most important of those reasons was to meet with Richard Aube, the man who represents the bank that hands over money. Basically, as things are completed at the house, the bank hands over the money that they are keeping in escrow (yet I am paying interest on) that was set aside for the house repairs. Yesterday was the first meeting with Richard to show him what is being finished up.

Long story short, he took the tour and released about 17k of the funds. I will get a check in a week or so. That is great news.

When Richard was there, he got to see a crapton of workers painting the exterior of the house. Here are a few of them:

Also of note, Al Medina, general Contractor, had about, literally, 15 ladders laying down in my driveway and another 10 on top of his truck. He owns waaay too many ladders.

Before Richard got there, I lugged some cabinets from my car to the house, then had a chat with Al. As I mentioned in the last post, the City Inspector is trying his best to ruin me financially, so I wanted to discuss options with Al. He said there is really no way to get around having to do some electrical work, but there could be a cheap solution. He proposed cutting the electrical wires that feed Dan's Guest House in the main house's basement, then stuffing them into the hole that leads to Dan's Guest House. Once stuffed into that hole, he would plaster over it, sealing them in. See the image below for reference:

Looking at the above, Al would cut the wires right out of that box (behind Al's' veiny arm) and shove them into the wall (there's another hole for the wires underneath the pipes). once sealed, it will look like the wires have been taken care of and the City Inspector can stop complaining and clear Dan's Guest House of its horribly dangerous violations. I hope he is correct.

After work, Amanda and I both headed to the property, as Crazy Jeff Doors had left a materials list for me. He had finished up most of the work on the third floor and needed a few more things to complete everything. When we arrived, we were greeted by some sweet new front steps, nice and repaired:

After picking up the materials list, we headed to The Home Depot in the Ghetto Next To Wal-Mart and a Strip Club and picked up a bunch of counter-tops and closets doors and whatnot. a few hundred dollars later we dropped the stuff off at the house and headed out to dinner. We have gone out to dinner for close to 3 weeks straight. It is just the worst.

In living situation news, I trudged to the front desk of the Ramada Inn that we call home and extended our stay, yet again, for another week. Since I have no idea when electricity will flow through the property, I figured another week would be a safe bet. How abjectly depressing...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Weekend Plus Monday Bonus

Over the weekend, Amanda and I did a little bit of work in the house. Not on Saturday though. Saturday was reserved for driving to Newport so Amanda can learn a choreographed dance. It was fantastic. I mentioned this in this space awhile back. Read all about it.

Sunday was the light work day. We painted the third floor apartment walls. It was hot and sweaty. Here are a few painted walls (and a refrigerator. The rest of the appliances were delivered on Friday afternoon):

Also, it was a nice surprise to see that the exterior of the house is getting a new coat of paint. Al Medina, General Contractor and his employees spent part of the day on Saturday painting (well, priming) my house. It was awfully nice of them.

On to the meat of the news: Monday's call from the electrician. After getting the inspector to the house to take a look at the work, the electrician (who I will call Steve the Electrician) had some terrible, terrible awful news for me. He said that while the work he did was sufficient in the Inspector's eyes, the work he has yet to do is sub-sufficient.

Basically, Steve the Electrician relayed that Dan's Guest House makes the Inspector angry. He said that it is illegal and every wire must be stripped out of it. This was fantastic news and should cost me a fortune.

I will be talking to Al about my actual options (as ripping all of the wires out is not an option) and see if he can use some Portuguese Magic on the Inspector or something. Or at least he will give me a better option that will pass inspection. I really hope Al knows magic.

Oh, also, Steve the Electrician told me that if I am going to change out any light fixtures anywhere in any house, then the Inspector said that I must change out all of the electrical boxes that they are connected to. Just great news. It could be super extra bad news, but instead, I will wait to change out any light fixtures until after the final inspection is completed and the house is passed. I really don't like the Inspector.

On the bright side, Steve the Electrician finished up the meter boxes and the electrical panel clean-up in the basement (for $3,500, ugh). He also said that the Inpsector will probably release the house for power so I have been trying to get in touch with National Grid. Who knows how that will go...

Lastly, in the last post on this blog, I mentioned that my wife and I are tweens. My reasoning for this was our purchases of goggles and dive sticks for the pool at the Ramada Inn we live at. I have other reasons, and photographic proof of them:

Amanda does puzzles. A lot:


And I love Legos:

How awesome are those basketball hoop and lawnmower?

Also, related, I am not a "cool" person.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Boogie Woogie Woogie

Yesterday, I headed over the the house for another plumbing estimate. This time from old dumb friend Joe Merritt (he did mediocre work on the last house). I walked him around and let him know what needed to be done and he'll get back to me with a quote. Killer.

When I was there, I was surprised to see some people working in there, which is always nice, painting some ceilings and walls. Jeff Doors was also in there, not doing much. It was a victory to even have him at the property, so I didn't complain too much about his lack of activity.

A few hours later, I got a call from Jeff, he let me know that I purchased the wrong lumber for the door repairs on the third floor. I responded by telling him that I bought exactly what he told me to buy, as I wrote it down while he was telling me. This flustered him. He then told me that he would be using the decorative trim that I purchased for the entry door (which is in good shape), so I corrected him and told him that it is for the newly constructed closet. This flustered him further. He went on and on about how he needs to be more organized and write stuff down and blah blah blah. he let out a big pathetic sounding sigh and got off of the phone.

Seven minutes passed.

Jeff called me again to let me know that he would be going home for the day. He said he was tired and couldn't do good work while tired. I think that he lost his self confidence after hearing about how he messed up, so he got depressed. Either way, I let him leave without putting up a stink. I have yet to hear from him again. Jeff is the best.

After a crushing Celtics defeat last night and a hit or miss night of sleep, I came to work this morning knowing that the electrician would be starting today. He let me know that he pulled the needed permit and one of his workers was at the house already. This was good news.

A few hours later, he called me up again. This time, he said he needed me to get in touch with National Grid in order for them to release a Work Request Number. This is a necessary step in the long process (Step 2) of getting the electricity turned back on. I asked him if he had the number. He then gave me the number, I jotted it down and we hung up our phones.

I called the number. It rang a few times. This is the recorded message I was greeted with:

" 1-800-GAY-1111, that's 1-800-G-A-Y-1-1-1-1 only 69 cents per minute..."

I am not joking.

Really, I am not. Try it for yourself (800.375.4291)

*Aside* - Some person got a job as the voice of this thing. That is so great. He had to sit in a recording booth and enunciate information about a gay chat line. This tickles me. *Aside over*

After I collected myself from the hilarious shock, I wrote down exactly what I had heard (so I could write it in this blog). It was awesome.

After that completely hilarious turn of event, I looked up the customer service number for National Grid. I then spent the next thirty minutes on and off the phone trying to get in touch with the correct department. I told the story of the electrical problems at least seven times to seven people before I finally got in touch with the right people. It was not a frustrating experience at all.

Once I reached the correct department and told my story once again, they kindly let me know that my call was useless, as they need to hear from the City Line Inspector to give me that Work Request Number. Awesome.

I called the city and they let me know the actual process by which my electricity will be turned on. Or at least, they let me know what they think the process might be, unless their whims change. Here is the new process:

1. Hire an electrician (done)
2. Electrician pulls permit (done)
3. Electrician brings electrical up to code (being done as I type)
4. Have City Line Inspector make sure everything is OK
5. National Grid contacts my electrician with the Work Request Number
6. I have no idea
7. Who knows
8. My electricity is turned on by someone or some company

As you can see, that process is quite different from the process that was told to me by National Grid a few weeks ago. Awesome. I hope to get some explanation from my electrician when I visit the house after work today. I'm sure it will confuse me further.

Oh, and the Ramada Inn is still awesome. We definitely still live there. it is definitely heartbreaking to have to walk up to the desk in the lobby and shamefully extend your stay. trust me. On the bright side, the pool there is sweet and we bought goggles and dive sticks. We are eleven years old.

More to come on Monday.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Crazy Jeff Doors

A few things have been going on at the house since the last update. Some measuring for carpets, some plumbers' estimates, but most importantly, Jeff Doors is working. He has not yet abandoned the projects or started to slack. It's early, but it's kind of amazing. Here are two nice stories:

Since there is still no power at the property, it's kind of hard to plug power tools in. If you own a generator, or cordless tools, it's not a big deal, just kind of annoying. Jeff owns both of those things, but still wanted to use electricity from the dead house. He called me up to tell me this on Tuesday night. I let him know that the electrician should be starting this week, but right now, there is no, in his terms, "juice in that three decker" (electricity in the three story building I own).

After some inaudible speaking on his part, he let me know that he knew how to get electricity in the building. He said that he could get the juice hooked up from the street to the meters. I told him that the meters don't exist. There are no meters at the house. Undeterred, he immediately told me that he has a way of circumventing the meters completely, using "copper piping". I laughed and immediately became excited to see my house burn down.

I have no idea what tricks he knows. I have no idea how to use copper piping to supply electricity from the street to a house. I can certainly guess, but really have no clue. I was genuinely excited to visit the house to see what he did to supply power to all of the outlets. Sadly, when I went to the house, he told me he couldn't figure it out. All of that promise, all of that anticipation, for nothing. He is stuck with his cordless tools and generator.


Last evening, I got a call from Jeff, after he had done some more work. He said that he bolted the exterior door shut. Not only that, but he had bolted it shut using a bolt that you need a very specific drill bit to remove. A drill bit I do not own. A little confused, I asked him why. He said that since he is leaving his tool in the property overnight, he is scared of being ripped off. He has been "ripped off a bunch of different times and it's not going to happen again".

I told him that bolting the door shut with a specialized bolt is a ridiculous idea. I let him know that I need to actually get into the house today before he starts working (around 4pm, an early-bird he is not) and he needs to remove the crazy bolt. Dejected, he obliged.

He then let me know that he told the neighbors to keep an eye on the place. So now that Jeff has alerted the neighbors to his tool cache on the third floor, it is almost certain that the property has been burgled by now. Not only will Jeff be missing his tools today, but all of those new appliances will be missing. Way to go Jeff.

*Bonus Story* - When I pulled into the driveway yesterday after work, Jeff was leaning over a plumbers truck talking to the plumber (who was there to give me a quote). I came in mid conversation, but here's what I heard:

"...he worked right at that Mobil station at the intersection. So I'm talking to the guy telling him not to do it. He goes and does it anyways. Three days later, wham, god took him." *Jeff backs away from the truck for effect* "can you believe that? God took him right then."

It's been noted before that Jeff is insane for Jesus. This is another example. A man does something, presumably trivial and then three days later pays for it with his life. Keep in mind, please, that as far as I know, Stalin roamed the earth for years forcing an incredible amount of innocent people into slave labor. He died after 30 plus years of doing that. The guy Jeff talked to died three days later for doing nothing of consequence. Please draw your own conclusions about Jeff's god.

Monday, June 14, 2010

An Update To This Web Log

Not much has gone on in the last few days. Just kidding.

Last Thursday, Al Medina, General Contractor started working in the house. He's patched a bunch of walls and ceiling, primed two of the three floors, built a closet and probably done some other stuff that I didn't notice. Here's some proof:




I met with him that day to answer a few of his questions and walk through some things with him. most notable, he told me about not replacing counter tops, but instead, painting them. I was, and remain skeptical about the results, but counter top paint does, indeed exist. As you can see, something needs to be done about these counters:

Also of note, Amanda and I headed to Lowes and Home Depot to check out carpeting. As suspected, Home Depot has the less expensive carpeting for sale, so we went ahead and ordered a bunch of that. measurements will commence on Wednesday.

As for the plumbing and electrical work, I have hired an electrician, who will hopefully start tomorrow, and still need another quote from a plumber or two before deciding on that one. The electrician is the more important of the two, as the water already works, it just sucks. The electrical system is nowhere near being turned on.

This week? More priming/painting, hopefully some carpentry from Crazy Jeff Doors (who I am meeting at the house today after his two hour counseling session, no joke), hopefully some window installation, some painting, cleaning and closet completion on the third floor, and may many other things.

I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Clever Title

Yesterday brought just about nothing. I met with an electrician at the house and walked him through what needs to be done. He will get back to me today or tomorrow with a quote and then I will tell him to pound sand. Or I will tell him he's hired. One or the other.

Today at lunch I met with a plumber and walked him through the property. He gave me a rough quote ($10k, oof). I will likely tell him that I won't be needing his services, but still need to find out what some other plumbers have to say.

That's about it. Enjoy your day.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Tame Weekend

Not much was completed this weekend. We had plans of cleaning up/organizing/setting up Dan's Guest House so we could live there. We ran into some problems.

On Friday morning, I mentioned that the electric may or may not be a problem to get turned on. It has now become a problem. I mentioned that I saw empty casings where electric meters used to live, but currently house nothing.

I also mentioned that, from the seller, I found some hopeful news that the meters may actually be in tact and in the basement. Armed with some hope, I visited the house to meet with an electrician and get the water turned back on.

When I arrived at the house, the first, and most obvious course of action was to go straight to the basement. I went straight to the room that housed the meters that the seller was talking about. Here is what I found:

Gas meters.


These meters do not gauge how much electrical current the property is consuming, but the gas consumption instead. This is bad news. Very bad news. Now that I know for certain that there are, in fact no electrical meters hooked up to anything, here are the steps I need to take in order to return the power:

1. Hire an electrician
2. Have that electrician contact National Grid to obtain a work request number
3. Using that work request number, pull a permit for electrical work
4. Have the electrician bring electrical up to code
5. Have the City Line Inspector come out and make sure everything is OK
6. The City Line Inspector contacts National Grid to get the meters installed
7. I contact National Grid to schedule an appointment to have the meters installed
8. National Grid installs the meters
9. I contact National Grid, again, to have work inspected
10. National Grid approves the work and finally restores power

When getting all of this information from the National Grid folks, I asked how long this generally takes. The customer service rep let me know that it generally takes about two and a half weeks. There will be no power for at least two weeks at this stupid place.

Crap. Again.

In better news, a few people from Providence Water showed up and turned the water on. Hooray.

Once the water worked, I went home for the rest of the day, The evening brought the still kind of strange Water Fire in Providence. What's Water Fire? It's when weird artsy people set some bon-fires in the middle of the rivers downtown, Enya plays through speakers along the river and vendors sell glow in the dark necklaces in the streets. It's strange and crowded, but looks kind of cool. I took a few pictures:

On Saturday morning, Amanda and I headed over to the place to do some work. Not much, but some. one of the things that I set out to do was clean out the refrigerator on the first floor. It apparently had some stuff still in it, so the Sears delivery workers (from Friday) didn't take it away, like they did with some other appliances.

The fridge was foul. I wrote about some more fridge problems at the last place, but this one was worse. It not only had a freezer full of mystery and shelves containing who knows what, but it was also used by someone presumably addicted to opiates. The opiates make it worse.

That aside, I held my breath and cleaned it out.

I have no idea what was in this covered pot, but it smelled worse than anything you can imagine. People generally say something smells bad and exaggerate it. It did not smell worse than anything I can imagine, because I can still imagine what the shelves of the refrigerator smelled like. In the freezer, most things were in bags or covered (loosely) in plastic wrap; not the case in the bottom.

In the above pitcher, and absolutely disgusting Kool-Aid-esque liquid had a one inch thick floating hairy mold colony. It looked like a sponge used to clean the inside of a rusty oil tank that doubled as a hair container for busy barber shop floating on fruit punch. It looked horrific and the smell was debilitating. Truly gag inducing and stayed with you for minutes in the fresh air of the outdoors. Ugh.

Here's how I felt about the whole ordeal:

Amanda shared the sentiment for certain, as she was in the vicinity of the fridge snapping photographs.

Another thumbs down? To the piping. We cracked the main water valve after the fridge clean-out and ran all over the house checking for leaks. The last place we checked, Dan Guest House, was of course, the most-leakingest. See?

Awesome. The back house is not only unlivable because of the lack of electricity, but also because when you turn the water on, the pipes leak rusty water all over the place. Fantastic.

Once the water was checked, we dragged some stuff out of the basement and headed back to the Courtyard Marriott in Providence, which is, sadly, no longer our home. Since we won't have electricity for a few weeks, and since the plumbing is terrible in Dan's Guest House, we will be living in a hotel for a little while longer. because this is the case, we had to find a less expensive hotel. Ugh. We are now at the lovely Ramada Inn in Seekonk Massachusetts. It smells bad. We're both excited.

No we aren't.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Holiday Weekend: Part III

In the third, and final holiday weekend recap I'll let you know what happened on Sunday, and bring you up too speed with what went on this week. Enjoy.


We had hired some movers to get our crap packed up and over to the new property. In order to allow the movers to put our stuff on the floor at the new place, I needed to get a floor covering. I went to the awesome and inexpensive Grossman's Bargain Outlet and bought three big throw rugs, then headed to the property to clean up a bit more. After laying the rugs down and sweeping the cobwebs on the walls, I headed back to our apartment to move.

The movers showed up a little late, but got right to work. I had used this moving company before, and wrote about them. I mentioned how the owner was probably on methamphetamines. I still think he is. Luckily, this time, I was able to snap a photo of him inconspicuously. The photo doesn't really to justice to his constant manic energy, but you can see he looks a little skinny/crazy:

When everything was almost completely packed up (the kitchen stuff remained), he kept asking us if we had any more boxes. A little surprised, I asked why he didn't have any, as I asked for both moving and packing service. He said that boxes aren't a part of the price, which is a lie. They had been using our boxes the entire time (which we had from our last move) and had run out. Sweet.

They took everything except our kitchen stuff over to the house and Amanda stayed behind to buy more boxes and pack up the kitchen.

After everything was moved into the Illegal Garage Unit, which I will refer to as Dan's Guest House from now on, I paid them, tipped two of the movers (not crazy Nick, as he didn't bring any boxes), and they were on their way.

Once the movers had left, I headed back to the apartment to help Amanda. We packed up the rest of our crap, cleaned up a little bit and headed to the also awesome Building 19. Building 19 sells everything. It's a giant warehouse with a giant parking lot with a giant selection of products. From underpants to bread to golf bags, Building 19 sells it all. We went in to get a bunch of sheets to drape over our freshly moved stuff (to keep the stuff a little cleaner and to discourage would-be burglars).

Once the boxes/shelves/mattress/etc were nicely covered, we boarded the place back up, said a quick prayer to the Patron Saint of Not Getting Your Crap Stolen (St. Gratus of Aosta) and got unpacking. Here's how where we live now looks. All things considered, it looks great for a couple of days worth of work:

It's the Courtyard Marriott in downtown Providence! We live in a hotel. Awesome.

*Aside* - St. Gratus of Aosta is not the Patron Saint of Not Getting Your Crap Stolen, but is, seriously look it up, the Patron Saint Against Attacks By Animals. So is St. Vitus. There are two Saints for your animal attack problems. I am not joking. - *aside over*


We took the day off.

Thus ends the busy as all heck Holiday Weekend Recap.

Now, some loose ends to catch you up to now:

Last week, right after closing, I gave Crazy Jeff Doors a call. He was pleased to hear from me, obviously. I was less pleased to be calling him, but secretly love him and his frustrating antics. He came over on Saturday afternoon and walked him through what needed to be done (I also said hello to his girlfriend Rose, who is still enormous). We agreed that he should start working on Tuesday morning by installing an actual door on Dan's Guest House (DGH), to replace the current plywood boards.

Tuesday morning came and went, and around noon he called to tell me that he wouldn't be working there that day. Displeased, but not all that surprised, I reminded him that it's super important to have a locking door on Dan's Guest House, as all of our crap is sitting there, waiting to be burgled. He said he would do that work Wednesday. We ended the conversation and I actually believed him.

Wednesday came and I had an appointment with a replacement window company after work. I met with the salesman and couldn't help but notice, as I was removing it to gain access to DGH, that the plywood was still the only thing between an open door jamb and the world. While the window salesman was measuring things, I gave Crazy Jeff Doors a quick call. He said he was on his way, now that "it was nice and cool out". I actually believed him, as there was the sound of rushing air from what I surmised were open car windows.

Satisfied, I went back to the window business and ordered all kinds of windows. It was a little pricier than I would have liked, but it couldn't be avoided. Why could it not have been avoided? Because there are a bunch of broken windows that are irregular.

Take a look:

This broken window is double paned and smoked glass. This type of window is super weird. Since it is super weird, it will cost more than the regular double hung windows that fill up most other window holes.

These are weird too:

These busted windows are strange in their own way. They are pushed out from the bottom, kind of like hotel windows or skylights, and thus are different from the previously mentioned double hung windows. Also, there are four of them total, so that's four times the weird.

Weirdness aside, we went through the house and I decided that 17 total windows need to be replaced. Some are broken, some are old, and some don't work. There are 12 double hung windows ($219 installed), 1 weirdo smoked glass window ($270 installed) and four strange swinging ones, which I will replace with regular sliders ($345 installed). The grand total, after taxes, is $4,577. Yikes. I signed the papers and handed over a $1,500 deposit. They should be installed in a week or two.

Also? Jeff actually installed the locking door like he said he would on Wednesday evening. Incredible.

Another thing that I've been doing this week is making 17 million phone calls. Some of them to Al Medina, General Contractor, some to electricians, some to plumbers, some to the water company, the cable companies, Sears, the electric company, and some to the city.

Here are the results of those calls:

Al Medina: Our contract is drawn up and signed. He starts next week.

Electricians: One coming for a bid today, another may come Monday.

Plumbers: No responses.

The Water Company: I tried to get the water turned on at the property first thing this week. No dice. There were a few bills from the old owner that were not paid. I called up my lawyers and they confirmed that the payments were sent out from the sellers proceeds after closing. I had to wait until those checks cleared. Once cleared, I can turn the water back on. Luckily, the checks have cleared and the water folks will be at my property sometime between 1 and 3 today. They will probably turn the water on and flood something (everything). I'm psyched.

Cable Company: I canceled service at our old apartment and told them I was moving to New Hampshire so I wouldn't get charged. I hope they don't read this blog... Related: heads up Judy and Paul, a bill and/or check may be coming to your house from Cox Communications.

*semi-vulgar aside* - most cable companies have ongoing deals to entice you two buy two or more services at one time (cable/internet/phone). Cox Communications is no exception. I believe that Comcast calls their deals the "Triple Play"; boring. Cox Communications has a similar set of deals, but they call them bundles. More specifically, they call them something that would double as an absolutely awesome male porn name: Max Bundles. I am really actually very proud of this joke. It's kind of sad.- *semi-vulgar aside over*

Sears: I had to change the delivery date for a few things. It was easy. One refrigerator, three electric ranges and a coin-operated washer/dryer combo were delivered this morning. All of which I cannot plug in. Well, I guess I can plug them in, but it won't do anything.

Electric Company: I called these folks right after closing. They let me know that they cannot turn on the power to one of the three units because, according to them, the meter is missing and needs to be installed. I asked how I could get one installed and they told me to call the city, get the place inspected, call them back and they could install a meter.

The City of Providence: I called the Standards and Inspections folks to find out what I needed to do. I left a couple of messages and finally talked to the City Line Inspector in charge of my property. He said that I nee to hire an electrician to clean up anything that needs to be cleaned up, pull a permit, have the electrician do the work, call him back and have the place inspected. Once inspected (and presumably passed), he can give the electric company the OK to install the meter. Chagrined, I hung up knowing that we wouldn't have electricity for weeks, as that's how the City likes to run things.

Electric Company: When the appliances were being installed this morning, I noticed the spot on the side of the house where the electrical meters were supposed to be. Three empty holes. Awesome.

I have since learned, form the seller, that the meters are likely in the basement, all three of them. I have no yet confirmed this, but am hoping that it is the case. I am also hoping that if all three meters are in the basement, then I will not have to talk to the folks at Standards and Inspections and can just get the stupid electricity turned on.

I am hoping this despite what I was told when I called the electric company back this morning. "You may need to get them inspected before we can restore power." Crap. I sure hope I can convince the keepers' of the current to just turn the essword on and be done with it. I am hopeful, but not optimistic.

So I think that's it. You are now all caught up. I have a lot more phone calls to make and a lot of work ahead of me (us). Luckily, our current apartment is cleaned for us daily and we have a sweet mini-fridge and pool. It will be both easy (financially) and hard (aesthetically/comfort-wise/soul-crushing-depression-inducing) to leave the lovely Marriott and move into Dan's Guest House.

Updates as needed to follow.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Holiday Weekend: Part II

Yesterday I copped out and just threw a bunch of images up. Today, I will be throwing some more images up, but also doing some actual writing. I enjoy it, but you will probably not like it very much.

Saturday Afternoon:

After the dumpster delivery and photo barrage, I scooped up Amanda from our apartment and we headed to Home Depot. We picked up a ton of cleaning supplies and readied ourselves to clean the Illegal Garage Unit top to bottom.

Once prepared, I removed the door (plywood) and we got to work. Amanda and I removed the junk, swept and scrubbed the floor and Amanda went to town on the cabinets and the stove, both of which were disgusting. When I wasn't helping out in there, I was lugging all of the furniture out of the main building and dropping it into the driveway. Here is the result:

A back yard/driveway full of crap. Hooray.

During this heavy lifting, I kept my eyes peeled, and my camera nearby, looking for anything of interest. Luckily for me, and you, this process was full of interest.

We started with Illegal Garage unit, as mentioned above, and found a bunch of fun stuff. In the kitchen cabinets? This:

This struck me as something with an incredibly pointed name. It says exactly what it does. Your movements will be smooth. Well done Traditional Medicinals.

Why might one need an herbal supplement for such things? Well, traditionally, prescription drugs generally constipate you. Especially those for prostate problems:

It's not all bad news however, as at least the decor was probably super classy:

*aside* - Amanda actually said, when I was unrolling the second poster, "wow, Alica Keys is actually kind of respectable." I then unrolled the third poster. - *aside over*

It's was well documented that in the last house I rehabbed, the craftsmanship was incredible. While this property may not have the same abundance of quirks, the squatter in the back unit tried his best. With butter knives. Holding up curtains:

There were about seventy-five thousand screws and nails attached to the window casings in the unit. Apparently, he didn't want to use any of them to hold up his window linens:

Who knew that the machete wielding squatter was so deep? I did:

Those are amazing. One about prison (with title!), two about being an awesome rapper (one with chorus!), and one that's pretty illegible (but includes the words sacrifice and drugs, among other things!). What a find! I'm probably going to scan these and frame them. I am not joking.

Lastly, hot rhymes aside, we dragged a dresser outside. Before doing so, I looked in the drawers of it and found this:

A crack pipe.

Another view? You bet:


After finding all of this great stuff in that tiny space, I had pretty high hopes for the main house, especially in lieu of the former tenant. She did not disappoint. not the same quantity, but quality is what I'm after. How can you beat these two?

First up:

I can tell you what the Bible really teaches: Gays are the worst and so is the devil. The end.

And in an almost too good to be true contrast, this:

I found this on a windowsill. If my experience with drugs (I have no experience with any drugs, seriously) has taught me anything, it's that this shredded Coke can was used to mix an illicit substance and water in order to inject it. Further analysis reveals that it was not heroin, as that generally is much darker. Coupling this with evidence uncovered previously (her doctor's appointments), I came to the conclusion that the squatter was doing the following:

1. Going to the doctor with real or, more likely, made up ailments.
2. Coaxing said stupid doctor into prescribing prescription opiates.
3. Crushing up said opiates and cooking them in a Coke can bottom.
4. Mainlining the mixture to get high.
5. Finding a new doctor and a new ailment to repeat the process.

Doctor shopping is the best. For sure.

I could go into a long aside about how terrible, with all of the technology we have, the medical systems are in this country. I will shorten it to this: how is it possible that a patient can request a prescription without that doctor having access to what other prescriptions that patient has?

Once I had dragged all of the furniture outside and we had finished scrubbing the rear unit, Amanda and I headed to Sears. For appliances. From three different departments. Going into the experience, I figured it wouldn't be that big of a deal. We knew how many we needed and what to get. It took forever. It was terrible. Super terrible. Here's why:

We were not allowed to buy everything all at once. Again, they did not let us complete the purchase in one transaction. It made no sense and wasted our time. It was awful. Really bad.

We went in needing four refrigerators, three electric ranges and a coin-operated washer and dryer. We went for the fridges first. We picked out the one we wanted and asked the salesman if we could take a look at some other stuff, as we need other stuff. He said yes, but he can't ring them up all at once. We were confused. And remain confused.

In short, we had to go through the ten to fifteen minute ordering process three separate times, even though we were buying appliances from the same store at the same time. It probably had something to do with commissions or something, but at this point, one would figure that a huge corporation would have some way to split the commissions up between salespeople. Not the case. After a hour and a half and four thousand dollars, we were on our way home for the night.

Sunday recap (among other things) tomorrow. I promise.