Sunday, June 30, 2013

Real Life Adventures In Construction - Thirsty Thursday (... a continuing series ...)

We went to dinner in downtown Palm Springs Thursday evening. We deserved it after a long week and headed into a Friday with two more days of blood, sweat and tears to get through. Besides, the weekly street faire was in full bloom. Off we ventured.

Dinner, as it turned out, wound up at Las Casuelas Mexican Restaurant, a rather fine establishment. We'd visited the companion locale in Rancho Mirage a few weeks prior (tasty margaritas!) and knew we were again in for a treat.

Understand: It was a day before becoming what I'll refer to as "Africa hot"* in the desert. The weather that evening was almost to the point of oppressive - 108° and no breeze. But it was pleasant outdoors so long as you were in the shade. And there was no humidity. Bonus: Water misters schpritz you from passing businesses and eateries as you walked along the boulevard.

Our waiter came to take our drink order. It was margaritas for everyone ... except me. I felt the need for something different. With the weather being as balmy as it was, I felt a Lynchburg Lemonade to be the perfect refresher. (My repast turned out to be broiled fish tacos, by the way. Because I know you needed to know ...)

"Margarita as well, sir?" our waiter asked in a rather thick Spanish accent as he took my order last.

"No. I'll have a Lynchburg Lemonade, please," I responded.

"Excuse me, sir?"

"A Lynchburg Lemonade."

"A what? I'm sorry ... I didn't get that ..."

My dinner mates almost guffawed at me. "You realize you're in a Mexican restaurant, right? They probably don't have any idea what that is. *I* don't know what it is!" one friend told me.

"I have a good feeling I will be accommodated," I said. "A Lynchburg Lemonade" I repeated to the waiter.

"You mean ... a Long Island ice tea?"

"No. A Lynchburg Lemonade."

"Michael ... seriously: No one in the history of this restaurant has *ever* ordered a Lynchburg Lemonade before," another friend surmised.

I looked at him: "Well ... I'm a ground breaker, then. 'Michael Noble: Trendsetter.' I'll add that to the bi-line of my business cards ..."

"A 'leechburr lemonade' ... I don't think we have that ..." the waiter said with his face screwed up in doubt.

"Oh, you have it. And, if you don't, I'm sure the bartender is sharp as a tack and can figure it out."

"Spell the drink for me, please sir?" he asked. I spelled it out.

The confidence "exuded" by the waiter was a bit troubling, I'll admit. If it would have been *me* waiting the table and taking the order, I would have expressed a certainty to my customer the order would be fulfilled ... whether it could have been or otherwise. If I found it wasn't possible to do so, I would have crossed that bridge when I'd've come to it. Customer satisfaction, y'unnerstan' ...

10 minutes later, our drinks arrived. I was the last to be served.

"Here's your special drink,
señor," our waiter noted as he passed me what looked to be an authentic Lynchburg Lemonade.

"Thank you," I said as I accepted the decorative glass with the lemon slice and green straw.

I tasted it while everyone watched me. I was shocked ...

Shocked at how tasty and mouth-burstingly refreshing it was. The bartender hit the nail on the head. And s/he didn't hold back on the alcohol either, a little added bonus.

At the end of the meal, I made certain the waiter knew the drink was exactly what I had ordered and that I'd enjoyed it. I asked he compliment the bartender.

* Thanks, Jan Snipes

.......... Ruprecht ( won't STOP bucking the system

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Real Life Adventures In Construction - The Kitchen (... a continuing series ...)

Ladies & Gentlemen? For your dining and dancing pleasure, I present:  

My Current Kitchen ...

Click photo to enlarge

1) Trash can (I'm about the only one who uses this. Heathens.)
2) Skillet, circa 1970 (Still works!)
3) Brand new bottle of Cholula
4) Plastic cups (We wash them ... sometimes)
5) Cooler
6) Another cooler
7) Yet another cooler (Hey ... you have to keep your beer cold, you know!)
8) Discarded Coors case (We'll get around to throwing it away at some point ...)
9) Package of dried mango (For snacking)
10) Package of dried apricots (Again, for snacking)
11) Wooden utensils (housed in an old "Peppered & Salted Cashews" container)
12) Canola oil
13) 1/3 bottle of Glenlivet Scotch Whiskey
14) Paper towels
15) Various size baggies, aluminum foil
16) Forks, knives, spoons, whatnot
17) Cereal bowls
18) Peanut butter
19) Thermal coffee cup (hasn't been used yet)
20) Salt, pepper, garlic salt, Montreal seasoning
21) Plastic bags
22) Stale box of crackers
23) "Kitchen" table
24) "Picturesque" kitchen back splash
25) Man-sized Cutco butcher knife (Handy for loosening screws, too)

Value Added Bonus! The Laundry Area!

Click photo to enlarge

1) Star Wars Rebel Alliance T-shirt!
2) Plaster dog holding a basket of dead weeds ... draped with black shorty shorts
3) Underwear (boxer/briefs)
4) Pile of debris (includes trash, drywall, studs, dried joint compound, old fixtures, cardboard used to protect floors, beer bottles, other)
5) Two sets of patio furniture: One on top, one underneath
6) Roll-away bed (with cover)
7) All-purpose tin bucket
8) Discarded joint compound box (new home for whatever we decide to fill it with)
9) Overgrown, ill-tended courtyard bushes
10) Closet hanger pole (gaining vibrant use as an "air dryer")
11) 350 lb. combination oven (back side shown)
12) Wall between neighbor's courtyard and ours (Does little to retain the noise of breaking tile being chucked onto the pile at the crack of 6:15 in the morning, much to the neighbor's chagrin)
13) Ironically, this is a dryer (We're too lazy to hook it up. We don't want to get *too* civilized, you know ...)
14) Discarded, demo'd drywall we will pick out of the trash to use for something tomorrow
15) Patio sofa cushion (Now with drywall dust!)

You're welcome.

.......... Ruprecht ( STOP )

Friday, June 28, 2013

Real Life Adventures In Construction - Touché (... a continuing series ...)

I was momentarily jealous of the shot ... and obviously out of sorts at the fact I'd let myself walk right into this one ...

Me: "You know ... I think I've been on this scaffold too long today. I'm feeling giddy ..."

Mark: "How can you tell?"

Me: "Because ... I'm on the scaffold. Duh."

Mark: "No ... I meant the 'giddy' part. Duh."

....... Ruprecht ( STOP )

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Real Life Adventures In Construction - Tile & Tribulations (... a continuing series ...)

If we had gone with the tile "chipper" (as I christened it), floor prep would have taken 10 days. (Side Note: Pulling it out of the trunk and having the blade gouged into my leg, however, you'd have thought the thing would perform flawlessly. Alas ...)

The "chipper" was painfully slow. It did ground down the residual thinset and adhesive left behind from the previous tile but, at the rate it was going, you could feel yourself actually age as it continuously vibrated. (After 15 minutes of working with the contraption you could feel your bowels turning to jelly.)

Something had to be done.

"Maybe we should replace the blade. I did get a brand new one ..." Steve mentioned. He handed me a brand new, hermetically sealed package. Not having operated this particular machine previously and knowing virtually nothing about it, I scanned the blade package to see how it was supposed to be installed. That's when I noticed a discrepancy.

There were two different blade positions: One for wood flooring removal, one for tile removal. There is a bevel on one side of the blade; that bevel is supposed to be against for the floor to remove wood flooring and in the opposite direction for tile removal. Want to take a guess which position it was in?

"Steve ... the blade isn't attached correctly - it's upside down. No wonder it's taking forever to remove the debris."

"That's the way it came from the store. It has to be in right."

"It's in right, yes ... but not for our purposes," I explained. A couple minute discussion ensued. He was finally convinced. I repositioned the blade and we activated the machine once again. Amazingly, the tile residue came up 10 times faster than before. But ... again, at the rate it was being chipped at, it still would have taken a week to do the job properly.

"We need a bigger machine ..." I concluded.

So, at just before 6:00 a.m. Saturday morning it was off to Home Depot the next morning to rent a "massive removal machine" (henceforth to be called by Steve "MRM" ... but, really, it wasn't massive at all) as Steve referred to the alternate rental. It was nothing more than a huge diamond-bladed buffer capable of extracting just about  anything in its vicinity - tile residue, various floor aberrations, limbs, etc.

Fast forward 45 minutes later. Steve is at the controls of the MRM first. I felt the need to caution him - he's not the biggest guy in the world, after all: "Uh ... Steve? The instructions state you need to engage this piece of equipment from a flat surface ..."

"That's what were trying to accomplish: A flat surface. I'll be fine ..." Famous last words. Both handles were engaged and the safety switch was flicked. Not 1.5 seconds later, the MRM had bucked and kicked Steve against the was and threw him clear as it stopped dead in its tracks, almost toppling sideways, automatically shutting itself of as the handles were let go. And just in time - it came dangerously close to ripping the electrical cord feeding it in two  Good thing that particular fail-safe was built in ... for the cords sake and for Steve's.

Slightly dazed from being thrown clear of the machine and into the wall, Steve yelled:

@*#&$! STUPID!"

"I'm sure there's a learning curve," I commented. "We just have to get used to it. Let me try." I dragged it to a flat spot on the floor without saying anything (the instructions weren't written to be pooh-pooh'd - there had to be some semblance of intelligence behind them - and I braced myself before flipping the switch.

I was slightly more successful.
I fought the machine into submission and got the hang of it, no easy feat. At first, it was like trying to wrestle a full-grown pitbull into submission, one who didn't want to be confined. I realized flat surfaces were your friend with the thing - you have to ease into any floor aberrations you want rid of. Ever so slightly tip the machine to your left, it veers left. To the right, it goes right. Steve watched me struggle through my efforts to control the thing for a full 5 minutes. I stopped it and took in the experience. You had to finesse it, work with it. There was an absolute method to the madness in running the MRM. Go against its grain or try and coax it into something it didn't want to do and it was going to bite you in the ass. Or take your foot off in the process.

To add an element of danger and intrigue to the process (you know ... for shits and giggles) it was necessary to continuously feed water to its blades, not only keep them lubricated while it was grinding away but to keep the beast from overheating and shutting down. Yeah. Let's operate the thing while on a slippery floor. Because it's not only dangerous in and of itself, we need something else to continuously concentrate on as well.

With half an hour each on the MRM, I'm pleased to relate we both mastered it. 6 hours later, exhausted and covered in thinset silt, we were still whole of body, a little deafer and could proudly slap each other on the back at the polished floor we muscled clean, ready to be wet down, mopped up and now able to accommodate new tile.

Rough Saturday ...

 .......... Ruprecht ( STOP )

Real Life Adventures In Construction - Hello, Ladies (... a continuing series ...)

Look: It's a condo. That's being renovated.

Currently, only men live here.

It's dusty and disheveled here. There isn't a single blind or curtains on any window in the place. (Hello! It's being renovated! Aren't you paying attention ... !??) The kitchen consists of a refrigerator (contents: beer, milk, beer, salad, beer, gallon water jugs, beer, a watermelon and some other fruit, beer, BBQ sauce, beer, beer and, oh yeah, beer) and a pop-up table with various utensils, paper plates, the occasional clean plastic cup, a role of paper towels, salt and pepper, Cholula and a few other items. The BBQ is our friend. 

The bathroom is in shambles, but at least everything "works." (There are towels on the floor from the other guys and the vanity could use a wipe down ... but the toilet flushes, there's a shower, running water.) 

The rest of the place is barren for the most part. Tools litter the floor, scaffolding is erected in the living room and bedrooms, walls are currently being "mudded," rags are everywhere and make-shift poles are positioned on pieces of wood for drying our laundry ... when we get around to it.

As mentioned, others live with me here. The owner. His brother. They're kind of messy (I'm the clean one of the bunch so to speak) but everything's amicable.) We have a kid who comes in and assists during the week. We take Sundays off to recuperate from the long week.

This particular Sunday with everyone gone but me, I slept in. (Translation: Up at a quarter past 6 instead of the usual 5:15 a.m.) I got out of bed, put on a pair of flip-flops, headed to the restroom and, shortly thereafter, set the coffee maker on "brew." (Yes! We finally got a coffee maker! Woot!) It's a toss up on any given morning whether I get dressed (or not) the first hour or so.

Luckily this morning I was at least sporting underwear. As I meandered into the kitchen to get a coffee cup, I looked up at the back sliding glass doors with the view of the golf course. There looking back at me was a group of 4 women fresh off the 3rd hole, peeking in at the window. 

A couple of them waved. I smiled and waved back. 

I approached them, opened the sliding glass door and offered hearty good morning. They commented they loved what we were doing with the place. (This was a clear attempt to distract themselves from the fact I had approached in nothing but skivvies. I mean ... the place is a mess. There's no possible way they could "love" what we were doing ... not yet, anyway. Not in the condition it was in.) 

We chatted for a few seconds more and then they left to resume their game. I wished them all good rounds. I turned tail to get my coffee.

Now ... we might get a call from the homeowner's association. We might not. 

I'm betting not. After all: They were on the property looking in at me sans clothes; I was not sans clothes on the golf course ...

.......... Ruprecht ( STOP )

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Real Life Adventures In Construction (... a continuing series ...)

When Steve purchased his condo in Indian Wells, little did he know it came with a sauna ...

... or, as most folks would know it: The Garage.

The condo's garage is insanely hot. Steaming. Roasting. Come the afternoon, it's its own hot box ready to serve the needs of every sweat gland contained within a human body. Want to rid those toxins from that burrito you ate the night before? No problem. Spend 10 minutes in the garage.

"Michael: Mind coming coming with me to the garage to help me put up some lights for a few minutes?" Steve asked me this particular afternoon around 2-ish.

"Give me a minute, I'll be right there," I replied. I thought I was safe. The dreaded three o'clock hour hadn't yet turned over, when the garage was hitting the upper reaches of temperature. It should still be tolerable for a human to withstand its atmosphere for more than a handful of minutes I figured. (Little did I know.) Plus, truth be told, it hasn't taken Steve 10 minutes or less to do anything in the garage in the last 3 weeks we've been here. So I was fooling myself in believing we were going to be in and out of them before we were puddles.

43 minutes after we'd first ventured into the place, both of us were still in the rafters, T-shirts completely soaked with sweat, face dripping as if we'd just come out of a pool. And we still weren't done. That's when the comedy came ...

@*#%$! it's hot in here! And ... I ... just ... can't ... get ... this ... one ... in ..." Steve managed to say through gritted teeth as he strained to screw in the third and final light. He wiped his brow, rivulets of moisture ready to invade his eyes. The stud finder he'd used stated there was a stud to drill into at the location he was attempting, but the screw was coming free with each attempt, drilled into nothing but drywall. "@*#%$! I don't understand. How can that @*#%$!-ing be? @*#%$!" (Needless to say, lots of epithets were tossed around in the hour plus we were in the garage. All of them by Steve.)

"Let me see if you have any anchor screws or molly bolts or something. Then we can stop fooling around with looking for a stud, being it appears your stud finder has a mind of its own as to what a stud actually is ..."

Minutes later with several anchor screws in hand, I climbed back up the ladder next to Steve's, slipping in the process as I mounted the steps. My hand hold wasn't the best - there was a sheen of moisture in my palm, but I managed to catch myself. I handed him an anchor screw. We re-positioned the final light bar on the ceiling, but, before he could screw it in properly, he slipped and gouged the flesh between his third and forth knuckles on the side of the fixture, imprinting a deep gash between his knuckles and drawing quite a bit of blood. Neither of us winced, neither of us reacted in any way. We just looked at the wound.

"You know ... I should be crying right now but there's no moisture left in my body. My tear ducts are vacant of tears ... dry as a bone ..."

.......... Ruprecht ( STOP )

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Real Life Adventures In Construction - The Day Off (... a continuing series ...)

For Father's Day, I decided to take the day off (I worked continuously the 6 days prior, I thought I deserved a break) and catch Man Of Steel

The theater - Cinemark at The River - is 4.9 miles away from where I'm staying. Why not walk it? I didn't have much of a choice since my car wasn't with me. So what if the theater is two cities over? I got dressed and huffed it.

The film was fine, I enjoyed it. 

Leaving, I knew I had another 4.9 miles to go before I got home.  I hitched my backpack a little higher on my back and hit the road.

Some would call me foolish walking 10 miles in triple-digit temperatures. (It was 108° on the way home, a little cooler when I'd left.) I see it as an adventure.

When I can't do something like this any longer? Then - and only then - will you be able to call me foolish.

(Then again ... maybe it's better I simply don't take any more days off work ...)

.......... Ruprecht ( STOP )
You know ... you should really stop being foolish.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Real Life Adventures In Construction (... a continuing series ...)

Solar Contractor Boss (whose crew has been on the roof in triple digit weather the last three days: "It's not going to mess anything up if I cut the power for a bit ... is it?"

Ruprecht: "No. Go ahead."

A moment later I meandered outside. As I passed him monkeying with the electrical box, I climbed a ladder to the roof to see how the solar panels were coming along. In passing I noted: 

"You realize if it's off too long and my ice cream melts, you're in big, huge trouble ..."

I could feel laser eyes drilling holes in the back of my head ...

.......... Ruprecht ( STOP )

Friday, June 14, 2013

Real Life Adventures In Construction (... one in a continuing series ...)

Steve: "You know what's really satisfying at the end of a long work day on your very own home improvement project? Sitting down and unwinding knowing no one got hurt that day falling off a ladder or severing a finger ..."

Ruprecht: "Uh ... Steve? Mind pointing that nail gun somewhere else besides my face?"

.......... Ruprecht ( STOP )