Go Slow Fast

A very wise supervisor gave me a recommendation years ago while on the job. “Go Slow, Fast” came from the Japanese who could do nothing wrong in the world of Quality Control. What it means is to take many seemingly infinitesimal steps toward progress, but take them quickly so the sum of the steps quickly becomes a solution or major improvement. It took me months to digest that one, but eventually I got the point. Now I live by that credo, “Go Slow, Fast,” if only because I have fewer days ahead of me than I have behind. The problem is that the body is no longer as able to go as fast as is required to make the slogan work to satisfaction. Nevertheless, as I age, I try my best to make the baby steps go by quickly.

My latest project which I have christened “House in a House” is a rather large effort. Until recently, the lower part of our home which we call the basement, consisted of concrete walls (the foundation of the house), and a concrete floor. Out of sheer boredom, I decided to finish the space to make it more livable. Up until now I used only one small corner of the area for my wood shop. I have dreamed of a spotless clean totally organized workshop all my life, but never had the gumption to make it happen. Had I used the Go Slow, Fast slogan I would have accomplished that years ago. The problem was that my wood shop was never the highest priority in the mix of life. This time the wood shop is still not the highest priority as it has taken back seat to finishing five large living spaces: 1. legacy hall, 2. a dining area, 3. a recreation area, 4. a kitchen, and 5. the shop. The area under construction is approximately 1200 square feet. Since I raised my family in a home of 1000 square feet I can confidently call this renovation a house inside a house.

I am trying to be a hero by doing as much of the work myself, but I have succumbed to asking for help from a few angels, some mercenary and others very kind hearted. At this time I have about 65 percent under my belt. The Go Slow Fast credo has made me concentrate completely on this project, to the point of setting my blog, garden, and Lions Club activities aside. Three major steps remain, electrical, floor, and ceiling. The electrical is being done by one angel, the remaining floor and ceiling will be done by me with some assistance from a second angel. I have promised Lovely a vacation between the floor and ceiling steps because she has been an angel and has stayed out of my hair the whole time. I see her at breakfast and then tell her I have to go to work, and return at wine time. We both need away time together. I have a favorite Tervis tumbler that is engraved with a scene titled “Life is Better at the Beach.” I seem to be using that glass more frequently for my Margaritas, and Martinis, and the image provokes the idea that it is time to travel.

Do It Yourself Disaster

In a previous post I wrote about building a house within a house. So far that project is going well, but is on hold for a couple of reasons: 1. I ran out of materials, 2. while waiting for material delivery I began another project. The second project seemed to be a shoo-in. I believed I could do it with my eyes closed and both hands tied behind my back. I have some experience laying tile both wall and floor, and this project is similar. Only the material is different. The generic name for it is laminate flooring. The actual material manufacturer shall remain nameless but it begins with a P and ends with an O.

I prepped myself by watching a youtube video done by a man who has been installing this type of flooring for fifteen years. It was kind of like learning how to talk from a Phd. I was without any knowledge and he was immensely over qualified. I should have sought out an amateur who made a video of his very first floor installation. No matter, I jumped into the job with relish. On the very first day, I began with the boards laying north to south. The literature in the package mentioned the ease with which the boards with a patented tongue and groove locking mechanism snap together and lock to keep from separating. I must mention that the room has an angled entry way, a door into a bathroom, and a closet also on an angle. All three on the very same wall. (entry door at 45 deg, a door into the bath, followed by a door into a closet at 45 deg). Leave it to me with my vast years of experience to approach the job as a total novice and take on the most complex situation as my starting point. I worked for seven hours before I finally gave up for the day. I had laid four lines of board. Each time I added a new board in line-four, the boards in line-two jumped out of engagement. No matter what I did the separation of boards continued.

The next day, I started again, but decided to change the direction of the boards from N-S to East-West. This would give the first line of boards more stability, and prevent the random separation. Wrong! The lines kept moving out of position. To solve the problem I nailed one end of each line down to prevent movement. This worked for a couple of lines and I felt confident that I was on my way to finishing the job. I was somewhere on line nine when I looked over my shoulder to the left and saw that line three had jumped out of engagement. WTF! Calm down, I said to myself. Take it all apart and reset everything. I did, but the problem only seemed to get worse. By this time my frustration level has peaked and it was time for some wine.

Before beginning again I discussed the problem with a friend who has installed many of these floors. He gave me several pointers about why the boards are separating. The next day I began by disassembling the entire job into neat piles of boards in the line they were in so I could reassemble them in the same order. That is when I noticed a spot in the sub-floor that was uneven, and it was in the spot where all the separation was happening. In good conscience I could not overlook this dip in the floor. A visit to Home Depot cured the dipping problem with the purchase of something called quick-set. Spreading this very pliable mortar on the floor and troweling it smooth filled the dip, but it took several hours to cure. It was the week end so I took a rest.

On Sunday I had to change the five gallon water bottle on our dispenser. I have done this many times, but this time I did something a teensy bit different, and felt an instantaneous ice pick enter my back. That sharp pain is the end of my story. It has been thirty hours since my back pain began and it will take a week or more to nurse it back to a point where I can move without fear of inducing a new shot of pain. In the meantime my new floor sits in piles awaiting my amateur methodology to return.

While all this amateurism was happening, Lovely has been goading me to let an expert do the job. I tried doing that today with an online search of services. The program stopped working at the end when it is supposed to give an answer.

This DIY project reminds me of a time fifty years ago when I got the idea to refinish our kitchen cabinets with a new color. To do the job right I removed the doors and took them to my shop. There they stayed being worked on and off for three years while I struggled with varnish remover to strip a factory applied finish. All that time, my poor wife Barb lived with her kitchen cabinets exposed to the world. In the meantime, I experimented with removers and various chemicals to find bare wood, I don’t remember what the combination was but I finally struck gold and stained the doors. I could write a book about that project.

Fix The Downspout TODAY!

A Kranz (wreath) of Kölsch beer.

A Kranz (wreath) of Kölsch beer. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

This humorous story came to me from a childhood friend. I found it absolutely hilarious, I hope you do too.

 

My sweetie said “Fix that gutter downspout TODAY!”

 

So I invited the boys over.  One brought his welding machine, one brought a pipe cutter the
others brought beer.

 

Took us about 4 hours, mostly for the beer, but we got the downspout fixed.

 

Wife is still speechless…  I am certain not for much longer though.

 

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We boys never grow up, this falls into the category of “potty humor.”