Sometimes I do wonder if the world is picking on us

Now realistically I know that we are not the centre of the universes, and as I don’t believe in any deities, it’s pretty hard to imagine the random nature of the universe coinciding to pick on us, specifically.

But it sure does feel that way sometimes.

Let me walk you through this…

Yesterday it became apparent that our house actually came with a swimming pool. The insulation contractor came, looked at the house, and in the process of preparing to go into the crawl space we discovered that the house was actually standing in about 6″ of water.

This did not make me happy.

However, the house does have a sump pump and so with some trepidation, I pulled an extension cable through the window and plugged it in. In an astonishing first of its kind experience, the pump worked.

However, it demonstrated why the crawlspace is flooded, and the pump disconnected.

Water pours from the leaking drains

Yes, in another fine example of “why do something properly if you can do it both cheaply and badly”, our gutters drain in to above-ground soak-away pipes which… are completely blocked once they do get in to the ground. So while the pump did pump the water out from under the house, it immediately leaked out of the pipe and then poured back in through the crawl-space hatch.

Hi-la-ri-ous.

Cue much faffing and, in the end, abuse of the vacuum cleaner hose, which allowed me to at least get the worst of it out and turn our garden into a swamp. Of course, the pointfullness of this activity was somewhat reduced by the fact that it rained overnight, and this morning.

So I got to the house today having bought 20 feet of soakaway drainage hose. My thought being that it would probably be okay if it was not full of leaves and mud, at least until we get the new gutters and get some soakaways (or drywells, as they seem to be called here) built. I ended up pulling the one out of the ground in the front garden and replacing it with one of the new 10′ runs. I also created a new connection for the sump pump that allowed me to leave it connected. Don’t ask*.

Then I tried that at the back, but it rapidly became apparent that the water was just running out of the soak-away hose and back into the crawlspace.

So I unplugged the pump, got in the car and headed back to the hardware shop. As I drove off, one street away, I pulled aside to allow a fire engine to go flying past. I had the usual momentary thought of “I wonder if they’re going to our house, nah”.

And I continued on my way.

And I was away for all of, maybe, 20 minutes.

I returned with 10′ of non-perforated hose (I should have got twenty foot).

And then I found this note on our door…

OFD forced entry to check for a death...but it was the wrong house

And then I nudged the door and discovered that the frame was split, and the door no longer locked. Thankfully, because I wasn’t gone long, it doesn’t look like anything was taken. I pulled some nails out from the trim and used them to put the door-frame back into some kind of holdable state, then fished in the giant box of pulled nails and screws (for chucking in metal recycling, conceptually), and pulled out a couple of long not-too-rusty screws. Using them I could fix the latchplate into the building frame rather than just the door frame.

And it at least sort-of locks. Oly Fire Dept are coming tomorrow to replace the door and frame.

But seriously. Seriously!

I was gone 20 minutes. If they’d have arrived 5 minutes earlier I’d’ve been at the house. And it was the wrong house anyway.

The world is laughing at me, I swear it.

And of course, because the house is only semi-secured I felt I needed to pull all the tools and my bike out. So they’ve all come home, but in the process of arguing my bike into the car, I managed to smear oil onto the backs of the seats. Which is pretty irritating.

* Did you ask? *sigh* Okay, I drilled a hole in the siding, in a section we’re planning to cut out, fed the cable through and duct-taped over it.

Nibbled to death by ducks

My aged laptop (9 years old) is apparently attempting to gradually consume my money. In addition to its already irritating tendency to reboot itself at random moments, the replacement (used) power supply cable is starting to break (but I’m really unwilling to pay for a new one for it), and… now the right speaker has failed.

Not in a “oh, the right speaker isn’t working” way, but in a “oh, it’s horribly distorted” way.

Problem is I don’t really feel like I have the cash to throw at a decent replacement. Indeed, my broad intention was not to replace it. And perhaps that’s the path down which I need to go. I have the Pinebook I can use for things where I need to do a decent amount of typing, and the Yogabook for things where I want to do only a little typing.

But trying to research stuff for the house on either of those is less than ideal. While the Yogabook is adequately quick, it is at the end of the day a tablet, and while the pinebook is more laptopy, it is at the end of the day a Raspberry Pi in a posh box.

The reason I don’t want to replace the mac is a two-parter. One is that I am intending to get a decent PC when we have the house finished, and the other is that if I were to replace this I’d want to replace it with something actually good.

But I’m disappointed Apple. My last laptop, the ever disintegrating Dell, beyond its murderous approach to battery management never actually had component issues. The case gradually broke, and it got painfully, painfully slow to use as software requirements got greater. But it always actually worked. And I sold it at about the same age as this Macbook is now.

But the Macbook I can’t sell as a working computer (not that it’s worth much) because of its faults. *looks at Apple*.

Well, that was astonishingly pricey

So, I went to my new optician today and hope to the goddesses that he’s right about his diagnosis, as at the end of the appointment I was $1000 lighter than when I went in.

Having had a long discussion about the sort-of-double vision I get when I’m tired, and when I’m reading…

…and the fact it’s been around since I was in my 20s, but it seems to be getting worse…

…and the fact that the prism added for strabismus (or ‘squint’, or ‘turned eye’) helped for the past two years, but seems to have stopped helping…

…and that it gets better if I take my glasses off…

…and many other things…

…and then following about 90 minutes of eye examination (although that did include the check for glaucoma and macular degeneration) he concluded that what I actually have is accommodative esotropia. Which basically means I get crosseyed, very slightly, as I try and near-focus. At far focus my eyes do something else (I forget what). As a result, my brain has, it seems stopped bothering with focusing my left eye (which is probably why I get headaches when I spend the day at home dinking), which was very weird. That seems to have been a result of adding prism, as I never had a problem focusing it before but today even with much tweaking of my lenses, the left was vaguely fuzzy.

That should, hopefully, get better with this new prescription.

The optician is clearly someone who very much enjoys his job (I’d recommend him to people, so long as you’re happy with blunt cheerful honesty about how terrible your eyes are), so that part at least was actually kinda enjoyable. Insofar as a sight test can ever be enjoyable.

But I’ve gone from a relatively simple prescription to a super complicated multifocal one which, to top it off, I need two of. That’s because I really, really need sunglasses to reduce the probability of me getting macular degeneration. I did once have “transitions” lenses – which they also sell, but my last wearing of them resulted in me having glasses that went dark in the cold. Since then I’ve been unwilling to retry them. So I had to buy two pairs of the painfully expensive glasses (although the sun glasses were marginally less expensive lens wise, as they don’t do the really good quality multifocals in sunglasses yet).

As a ‘bonus’, they recommended larger glasses, because to accommodate the multifocal variation they really need more glass-estate. So I’m back to my teenage-owl glasses look, which I’m not sure about, but I’m going to have to like, because $1000. I considered some 1960s style ones but felt a little too much like photos of my dad from the 1960s.

I could, obviously, have taken my prescription to some online place and tried to get something cheaper – but given the crappitude of my eyes it’s probably not worth the torment.

Apparently I can expect at least a couple of weeks of discomfort when I get them, too, as my brain attempts to remap the visual cortex to handle this new system for seeing. Which sounds super fun. And of course, having had atropine drops in my eyes I got to spend the day as a vampire with pain from sunlight and eventually a moderately cracking headache from not being able to focus on anything.

—–

Despite that Kathryn and I got out in the garden as the evening wore on and planted four trees – A ranier cherry, a bing cherry, a mountain maple, and a buckthorn – all thanks to Sarah for the ace tip about the native plant sale and the tree sale. We said Hi to our neighbours and had a nice chat with our arborist who’s made the area around the trees at the back much prettier and healthier (bramble reduction, adding mulch). He also helped us plant the two cherries – digging holes for us as we trundled out to grab them in the pickup.

—–

In house news, we’re still getting quotes in, and waiting on news of a final quote from our contractor (he gave us a ballpark which we were happy with). We’re working with the city to come up with a plan for the frontage that we – and they – are happy with. While it’s stressful and tough, I think we might be making progress.

Note to self

Traditional order of dressing: Bra, then teeshirt. Not vice versa*.

* Limited applicability to superheroes.

Another bad decision

I increasingly feel like every decision we’ve made regarding housing and property in the US is bad. Our land is a fucking disaster area that’s sucked up half our money and is like some albatross around our neck that we can’t sell. Thanks Thurston for that shit.

Our house is turning into a complete pigging nightmare. Our contractor actually seems like a good choice, at last, but he’s small fry in a pool of bigger fish, I suspect. Why? Because our possible truss delivery date has gone from the mid-end of November to January.

I’ve called an additional 7 truss companies (on top of the 3 local ones he called) – and as we move further away, the cost for shipping gets insane, but so far the only place that could actually get them to us quicker is in Texas and would add $4500 on for shipping.

But the problem of the trusses means that:
– Ideally we should be doing windows after trusses, which means trying to do windows in January.
– We miss the deadline for a bunch of rebates that expire in December, meaning we’re possibly losing an additional few thousand dollars because we won’t have heating, or electrics installed and working by the end of the year.
– We’re stuck paying mortgage on a house we can’t live in.

So this is all fucking depressing.

So I accidentally created an open plan bathroom

Today I had a few little jobs planned. Turn off the water, cap off the leaking pipes, cap off the bathroom sink taps (where the valves didn’t work) so I could remove the sink and the rotting subfloor below and the leaking drain, cap off the leaking cold tap from the laundry area. I’d spent yesterday digging out my plumbing tools – although I can’t find my awesome little pipe cutter*.

Rothenburger self-tightening clip on pipe cutter

Instead I had one of the tedious manual-tightening one that seems to be all that I can see in the store here**. Still, with only 2 pipes to cut (I thought), it wouldn’t be so much of a problem. Of course, to use that pipe cutter meant that I had to remove great chunks of drywall, but I wasn’t too hassled about that. And so I set to on the shower. Having turned off the water at the main I started removing the drywall – and discovered exciting things like “oh, hey, you clearly damaged the mains wire running through the wall behind the bath when you remodelled, but insulation tape is a fine solution to that…

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And having a crossbar crushing it as it goes through the stud is totally not a problem.

As a side point, I am intrigued to know what the purpose of this string is…

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I suspect it’s “holding up” plumbing, or it was, it’s disconnected now :-/

Eventually it became apparent that the only way I was going to be able to successfully cut these pipes was to whip out the two studs. Since they were stood on rotting timber I wasn’t convinced they were adding much to the wall anyway… the only problem was I ended up having to disconnect the cable that was running through them. That necessitated removing more drywall.

Eventually I managed to get the pipes capped off – after scraping the pipes back to the metal to get a good enough seal – my wire wool was insufficient to get rid of the corrosion from the leaking, which wasn’t a surprise, but was tedious.

Success! Onto the next bit I thought. I whipped off the leaking laundry tap – and replaced that with a cap…

On to the the sink.

It rapidly became apparent that the sink cabinet was held on with hidden nails… and the cabinet was sturdier than the wall it’s attached to. Despite the fact that bits of the cabinet were well and truly rotten from the leaking pipework. Which was (is) faintly unnerving. Still, after a brief conversation with Mrs. Sledgehammer, the cabinet was removed. The sink and granite counter I managed to save so they can go to Habitat.

Then I went to remove the failed valves. Only… it turns out that they’d not screwed the adaptor to the crossbeam in the wall. Well, they sort of had. One screw however is not sufficient to hold it well against a possibly 40 year old valve being undone. So while I managed to get one of the valves off from the nipple, and replace it with a cap; the other copper-pipe-90-degree-to-the-nipple*** – that fractured at the soldered joint.

Which I suspected, then confirmed when I turned on the water. So then I had to run into town to grab another (expensive) cap – make a large hole in the wall to get the pipe cutter in (thankfully no studs needed to be removed for this one) and then lop the end off the pipe. At which point I discovered it’s not actually attached to anything under the floor – thankfully I had a good enough hold on it that it didn’t escape. It’s now held in place by the earth cable which I repositioned.

Then I finally capped it off and cleaned up.

And then realized we now have a very open plan bathroom…

Still, all that drywall will have to come down, but we’re waiting on the quote before we can get the**** truss diagrams so we can submit this permit. I’m beginning to feel pretty frustrated by the inability to progress, at all, because everything is contingent on the main permit. And the main permit is contingent on us finding a contractor.

And no one seems to have any urgency, except us. But you can’t be shirty with people about timeframes because there’s so much work available they don’t need to do it.

I’m really beginning to wonder if we should just have done the roof ourselves.

* For the sake of speed, I did have a quick look in the DIY shop today, but couldn’t see one… Do they exist in the US? Anyway, not finding it means I’m going to have to search harder.

** Though I haven’t looked very hard.

*** Whatever that’s called. There’s a whole bunch of bits of plumbing I’m not sure of the name of.

**** sodding

Craigslist Flake Syndrome strikes again

So yesterday we rearranged our afternoon to allow a craigslist flake to come and view the car. I actually quite liked him, despite the attempt to kill us both when while test driving we ended up with him going the wrong way up a dual carriageway (divided highway) after performing 3/4ths of what I suspect was a U turn of dubious legality. Still, seemed nice. However, he appears to be suffering from acute craigslist flakitis.

He didn’t bring money, though, or any way to get the car back (?!). This I only discovered at the end of the discussion, but being in a relatively good mood I was fine with him picking it up today. This decision is part of the reason I’m in a very grumpy mood now.

So today I got a message this morning saying he couldn’t get off work early – and eventually got a message that he couldn’t find someone to give him a ride down to collect the car. He lives up towards Seattle.

Which is more pissy because I’d put off someone else and said it might sell. Now that person’s disappeared too, which leaves me feeling really quite annoyed.

Then I made the mistake of going to Lowes, because they sent us a discount voucher and we wanted something to put down on the floors to try and prevent quite so much draft coming in. Partly because the void under the house is filled with rat urine, partly because it was beginning to smell pretty damp (like underhouse void), and partly because we want to heat it enough to keep damp at bay. It’s currently at a whopping 10C / 50F (which I didn’t twig was only 10C, so I might nudge it up a bit tomorrow).

Anyhow, so I gathered together some stuff (plumbing stuff here is suuuuper expensive, btw). And trekked round the shop in search of the underlayment which is what was in the house before… and which some people still seem to recommend. The idea in my head being what I don’t use up now would be useful on the house later…

Only I had an appointment at 10, so I needed to be quick through Lowes. After trailing around and not being able to find it, I asked an assistant. Who after looking blank, and eventually pulling out a tablet to try and locate it after I showed her on my phone what I was after, decided she didn’t know where it was. Then said I should find someone from flooring to ask (there was no-one in flooring when I walked through it), then informed me really helpfully that “it’ll be out on a shelf though”.

Uh hu.

And I thought it would be on the ceiling, no-fucking-wonder I couldn’t find it… I managed to restrain myself from saying out loud.

At this point I realised I’d be late if I spent any more time looking for this stuff and threw the stuff I had collected onto a shelf*. Then I made my way over to the appointment where the guy was late (but didn’t apologise)…

…although he seems competent and his quote is about what we’d expect based off other things.

And then, because I can’t get a remodel permit without the roof truss diagram (and we’re waiting on a quote from our fourth contractor before we can get those) I’m kinda stalled out. I spent the day installing the plastic sheeting, the hammer-stapler-thing is at least a bit therapeutic. But that and the little bit of plumbing is kinda it until we can get the contractors to do the roof.

The city were pretty hazy on whether we could take down drywall, but the job that really needs doing is removing the electrics. The drywall can come down in the demo party, but that party will be a million times easier if there’s no electrics in those walls to worry about. Similarly, lopping off the plumbing would be nice, but I don’t have my bucket of shitty plumbing parts available anymore, and again, pluming stuff here is super expensive, so I’m resisting doing more to that than I have to, keeping it to a really minimal leak-stopping.

Tomorrow I’m planning to turn off the water and disconnect the leaking pipework. But after that there’s going to be a bit of a mental debate about how much I can do. This weekend we might take down the carport – which is partly a shame because it’s handy to have, but it’s in the way of the electrician.

It’s irritating, because what I’d scheduled tomorrow was going to look at the car we’d like to buy. But again, because of craigslist flake syndrome I can’t.

Oh, but good news – our washer has found a productive home. It took a while, but freecycle worked :)

* I would not normally do this, but I’m not wasting my discount voucher on a few small items if I can get something bigger that we need, and after the lack of help I was feeling pretty pissed off.

And yes, it’s still shit

So I did the rest of the plumbing checks today – trying to work out where the water’s coming from. It does seem that the bath was the source of it all. I suspect that at some point in the past the water heater leaked pretty spectacularly, and no attempt was made to dry that out.

Pulling that drywall off revealed unpleasant, but dry drywall and timbers that are not as rotten as I’d expected. Pulling off the drywall around the kitchen sink…? Well, it looks like all the leaks were related to waste water (which explains the unpleasantness of the drywall that I ripped off).

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The highly observant of you will note that this ‘design’ of waste water pipe requires the water to flow in a non-traditional direction to exit the building. And it’s not merely uphill here.

It’s uphill here too:

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Also, there’s these two holes that I have no idea what purpose they serve:

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I mean, I know some traditionalists put screws into them. But that is very old fashioned. Clearly, now, they’re just used for kind of ritual purposes.

Still, despite its utter shittyness I hooked it back up. At least partially:

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Yes, the beauty of that is unsurpassed. I think it took me a whole hour to build.

The plan here was that I’d remove the bathroom sink today. This would allow us to get at another area where it looks like there’s been a fair amount of leakage. Again, I suspect it’s waste-water, not fresh water, related. But until I yank the drywall it’s hard to say. Unfortunately, while my hands were just beginning to feel sore again so I was feeling a bit hesitant anyhow, another problem arose. The valves under the sink, the ones to turn the water off? They don’t do anything.

Which means that, like the shower (which has no valves), I’ll have to turn the water to the house off completely, then I’ll have to remove and blank off the plumbing for those bits. I’ll have to go wander the aisles at a plumbing place and see what is available here. In the UK I’d have thrown a couple of compression fitting inline valves in, because they’re always handy to have around. I’m hoping something similar will be around and not too pricey.

The main reason for my little jaunt over there today (rather than resting my aching hands) was to ‘fix’ the broken piece of car decking for the asbestos people. Since I’m not meant to enter the rat highway crawlspace until after it’s de-ratted got a new vapo(u)r barrier, this ‘repair’ has been achieved by screwing a piece of 2×4 into the failing board and spreading the load across a bunch of other less rotten boards. This has pulled the board back up level with the others, and it doesn’t seem to move.

I couldn’t find hazard tape though (at least not obviously, and it really ought to be obvious!). I was probably not looking in the right place, but I ended up just slapping some yellow insulation tape on the edge of it.

Still, the good news is that after a few days off my hands are feeling better and not hurting just to move, even after taking down some drywall. I think I’m just going to have to be a bit careful with myself. Also, our ‘new’ chopsaw that we bought about 6 months ago seems to work (and has a really nice blade on it).