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Sunday, November 28, 2004

November 28, 2004

Happy Post-Thanksgiving!

Well, it's a little belated, but hopefully your holiday was a warm and festive one. smile

One-Act Forthcoming

It seems weird that it's already the end of November...and that in mere weeks now I'll be holding auditions for One-Act again. I've got my selection narrowed down, but I haven't made a final decision at this time. I need to order (and peruse) some more scripts first before I make that decision.

Perhaps tonight I'll take a little time and work on rolling over last year's One-Act Web and starting a new one. If not, my goal for that is certainly some time this week, for a number of reasons which I won't mention right now.

Election Results

As always (in recent times), it seems as though election outcomes include some interesting and unique results among the bunch, and this year was no exception. I stayed up until about 1:30am on Wednesday (November 3) to watch returns; however, the more important and interesting data came later the next day and in the week following the election.

Minnesota has (I'm not sure how many other states also employ this technology, but I'm sure there are many) an online databank of returns and a simple query to retrieve data as narrow as by township or wide as to include the entire state. Since we've recently moved, I found it particularly interesting to do some simple analysis on the local data, just to get a feel for the political atmosphere (post-election). Things like that are often interesting to me. smile

But anyway, it was another election... smile


Yes, it's true. We finally got the first snowfall of the season to stick around for a few days. It began Friday evening (November 26) and probably snowed around 1/2-3/4" or so. Along with it came a little bit of sleet and ice from the wet roadways, but it wasn't too bad. As of the time I write this, there's probably on average only 1/4" or less remaining, but it's good to see a little of the white stuff seeing as how it is late November.

Home Improvement

Well, it's true. The [bathroom] project has officially begun (and at this point in time has hit the point of no return). As we were gone for Thanksiving on Thursday, we returned Friday and had some other plans, so that really left Saturday (November 27) to start the project. It started out grand, first off with sealing off as much of the affected area with painter's plastic (even went so far as to use two layers with airspace between). Then we prepared the shop vac and sawzall for use in the sealed area and put on the 'safety gear' (namely dust masks). Before we began, I made sure to kick off the power ( IDEA! Safety Tip: ALWAYS turn off the power to an area where you're cutting through a wall -- see note in three paragraphs IDEA! ) to the area affected by the cut. After returning to the cocoon, I had Beth ready the shop vac, and I prepared to make the first plunge cut into the wall with the saw.

Things went great -- for the first 20 seconds or so. Then I noticed that the blade just wasn't cutting through anymore. Before it got to this point, however, it had made a full plunge cut through both sides of the wall (the desired effect). I removed the blade from the wall to notice that it had been completely dulled by the [presumably] very gritty plaster. This surprised me quite a bit -- they were new blades and made for this sort of activity. I tried another (good thing I bought the five-pack) and had the same results. This was disheartening, as it meant that what had been ideally the way to remove the wall (in larger pieces) was not going to be possible. Many hammer swings were to be required now, causing much more dust discharge and other unpleasantness.

So I put down the saw and took out the hammer. With a good swing, you can begin to make a hell of a hole from which to start. I also at this time noticed how rocky the plaster wall had been (moreso than other plaster walls I'd seen and worked near in the past)...which made the blade dulling not as surprising to me. Anyway, I also noticed another very curious thing -- one side of the wall wasn't lath & plaster proper. Upon making a larger hole, I also discovered that one side of the wall had been done in the typical way, and the other side of the wall had been done with fiberboard backing and a 3/8" plaster coating. This made my life happier, as it meant taking at least one side of the wall out would be a hell of a lot easier (although not possible with the saw). At that time I put Beth to work on the traditional plaster side, and I went to work with a prybar on the fiberboard side.

I made much quicker progress than she (for the obvious reason), but I came to realize shortly after I'd removed about 2/3 of the inside wall (the fiberboard/closet side) ( IDEA! ) that I'd severed a pretty substantial electrical cable in the process of cutting! Now, what's more interesting about this is that I had an idea where the wires should be, but as I wasn't completely sure, I still killed the power to the area. VERY FORTUNATELY SO! The wire I'd cut happens to be the feed for the living room area, so without it in working order, I had no choice but to fix it right on the spot. There happened to be enough slack in the wire that splicing it wasn't a problem with the proper tools (that whole section of wire will be replaced anyway when the project is completed, so it wasn't a complete loss and is therefore 'temporarily' (read: don't do this and pretend it's fixed for good at home) fixed. It'd have been a Bad Situation had I not made sure the power was off to that area. So, safety lecture ( IDEA! ) over. smile

Once we had made enough of a mess, we decided to call it a night. About half of the bathroom (lath/plaster) wall had been removed, and 3/4 of two closet walls had been removed (we have to (well, it's much easier to) gut the entire inside of the closet due to plumbing and new electrical issues). So, we cleaned up as best we could, put some plastic over the hole (so as to prevent the cats from getting into the rubble pile in what used to be the closet), and called it a night. It was a bit weird to be able to look into what's now our office area from the bathroom, but cool nonetheless since progress was being made.

So, we began again this afternoon (Sunday) working on the remainder. Again, we sealed up the area to prevent excessive plaster dust from being strewn about the house. After getting that taken care of, we cleaned up the rubble pile from inside the closet and started in again on removing the wall. Beth made substantial progress on the lath/plaster side, and I also made progress (albeit a bit slower) in the closet area. I successfully have removed two of the four walls in the closet, and about 2/3 of the ceiling of the closet has also been removed (this is due to electrical and texture differences between the ceilings). After cleaning up the closet again and helping Beth remove the remaining plaster, I took to work on removing the lath from the studs (note that we're saving the studs for use in sealing up the closet door later, so it wasn't an option to just hack away with the sawzall -- ahh, frugality. smile ). After all that was complete, I took the saw and cut the nails holding the studs into place, therefore allowing them to trivially fall out of the way. At this point in time, we've accumulated enough demolition refuse that our containers have been filled to capacity. More demolition is not a good idea now until we empty them, so we took time to clean up stuff again with the shop vac and swiffer. We have no need to cover anything with plastic tonight, but we can now without contortion walk through the closet wall...which is a Good Thing.

So, the goal for the remainder of this week is to go to the landfill (to get rid of what we've got), finish the demolition work (which should only take a few hours), and make some measurements so new materials can be ordered and installed this weekend/early next week. Since we're going to be replacing all of the plaster with drywall, I will have to buy two different thicknesses of the material to accomplish the project. This is due to the fact that two sections of the new construction (one wall and the ceiling) will have to match the existing plaster thickness, and the remainder can be a standard thickness I deem necessary. Also this week it would be nice to have a good idea of exact sizes for the new vanity and all its trimmings. So this next week is primarily finishing this weekend's work, preparing for installation, and possibly doing the wiring.

Hopefully then this weekend I can essentially "build" the new wall (fill in the old closet door) and get the drywall work complete (or at least started). Then the following week I can prepare for cabinet/sink installations and plumbing. Plumbing is one of those projects that, while it really won't take that long to do the bathroom stuff necessary, it's a good time to at least properly begin to fid the rest of the plumbing spiderweb. Once (and as) that's complete, it's merely painting and the finishing work (fortunately almost all of the trim work came out nicely and can be reused -- what didn't come out as nice will be alright, since it won't have to be replaced anyway). If all goes well, the goal is to be more or less complete with the majority of it by December 18. Whether or not the floor will be complete is something else at this point in time, but here again, we'll see what happens.

We've been taking some pictures as we go along with this process; hopefully I'll get a chance to post them sometime this winter (after the project is complete).

That's all Fer Now... until next time (hopefully not another month again)...

This post was upgraded to the MZ Online Blog on 8/29/07

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