Archive for the ‘character-building’ Category

quiet blog = noisy life

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

How unfortunate–a quick post in September teasing about a reveal and then nothing for months. There are reasons good and bad, big and small for our absence. The biggest reason for the delays is because we’ve bought the house that we’ve been living in for over two years. Given that the house was already in our family, our original plan was to live in the house without purchasing it. After rehabbing almost every room inside the house, we starting thinking about and planning the major work that needs to be completed on the outside. As we started to add up the costs required, we all realized that mad purchasing the house made the most sense. Buying any property in San Francisco is a time-consuming process, even (or perhaps especially) for an in-family purchase. It took us over three months to complete the process–but we’re happy to report that the house is officially ours (and the bank’s, of course). Once the process began in earnest, I didn’t want to tempt the fates with a blog post here (I’m a little superstitious). Since our last post, we’ve actually been working on a few projects that we’ll report here soon, including:
1. Rehabbing our front hallway.
2. Refreshing our living room fireplace.
3. Rewiring one of our ceiling lights.

The biggest project is the one we’re still immersed in–at the end of December we started to rehab our kitchen. We’re far from done, but we’ve accomplished enough where we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. The kitchen project also means the whole house is in a bit of chaos–throwing a bit of a wrench in the “reveals” of our other projects. But you’ll hear (and see more) soon.

2012 is also big for mad maison because we’ll start the process of improving the exterior of our little maison. It’s been decades since the house was painted–and it’s in need of a thorough restoration and refresh. In addition, we still have a kitchen to finish and a bathroom to rehab. There will be plenty more to see here, I promise.

close to another reveal. . .

Monday, September 12th, 2011

Tonight, after working a full day and eating dinner I sat on the couch and read a little. This is not monumental, except that I had zero guilt while relaxing. I didn’t feel the pull of wallpaper to be removed, plaster to be repaired, or walls to be painted. That’s because mad is currently basking in the glow of another completed (though not fully staged) space in our house. We have completed the rehab of our hallway. One would think that a hallway is easy. After all, you don’t hang out in your hallway, and it typically contains little furniture. Alas, we have learned that is not always the case. This space represented a major milestone. Unfortunately, I had started to remove some of the wallpaper two years ago, before we settled on our “one room at a time” approach. So every time we stepped in the house (or anyone else did) it was very clear this was a home in transition. To know that we’re one light fixture and a few finishing touches away from making a positive first impression to anyone who enters our home is a great feeling. We’ll share more photos and details soon, but for now, we’re going to relax a little longer.

an external experiment

Sunday, July 10th, 2011

It isn’t an accident that mad maison hasn’t shared photos of the exterior of the house. It’s been a long time since the house was painted–and the last paint job was not up to our standards. Right now, it’s still a little “crack-house” chic. We’ve been focused on the inside of the house (and we’ve had a few projects cooking that we’ll share in upcoming posts) and we knew the outside would be quite a thing. Our plan is to have the exterior repaired and repainted (hopefully) in the next twelve months. In the meanwhile, we conducted a small experiment on the exterior and we’re excited to share the results with our loyal readers. In addition to the old paint job, the exterior of mad maison sports a treatment commonly referred to as schmutz. There is visible dirt on the exterior, which complements the old paint job quite nicely. While we’re not ready to hire painters, we thought we could try removing the worst of the schmutz. We wanted to try washing part of the house. We started with a very specific area, the garage doors, to measure our results. We didn’t want to do any full-blown power washing, for fear that we would remove the old paint from the house (or, heaven forbid, knock the whole structure down). Of course, this being mad maison, additional work was required to complete the task at hand. There is a water spigot on the outside of the house:

le spigot

You’ll notice that there is no faucet to go with the spigot. Task one, therefore, was to find a faucet that we could install. A couple of trips to the hardware store led us to discover the four-way stem key:

four way stem key

four-way stem key

The stem key works as a “removable” faucet, which means no scurrilous individuals can steal our water while we’re not looking (my grandfather would be so pleased):

four way stem key

stem key in position

Once we found the stem key, we also found a “faux” power washer to fit on the end of a hose. This extends the reach of the hose spray without producing too much paint-stripping psi:

power washer

"power" washer

Finally, we assembled our cleaning/scrubbing supplies:
cleaning tools

While the house still looks like it needs a paint job, we were pleased that we successfully removed the loose schmutz, and feel it is a temporary improvement until we’re able to get the professionals in here. Here’s the before and after:

garage door, dirty

garage door, dirty

garage door, scrubbed

garage door, cleaner

We think the improvement is even more apparent in the close-ups:

dirty garage door close up

dirty close up

scrubbed garage door close up

clean close up

Inch by (sometimes frustratingly small) inch we’re getting this mad maison to where it should be.

earth day, mad style

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

We haven’t spent much time talking about the exterior of our humble maison. Honestly, it needs a lot of work–and it’s the sort of work that we can’t do ourselves. Despite this, we were inspired by our neighbors (who did a little clean up work on a major street near mad maison) to do a little front yard clean up. We’re not quite sure what our long term goal is for the small front yard. We’re pretty sure we want to get rid of the strange vegetation/ground cover that is there, but we don’t yet know what we would replace it with. Here’s what it looked like before we began:

front yard, before
You’ll notice the broken gate, as well as the horror-movie-creature-like tendrils that were starting to reach out toward the sidewalk. The current state is not exactly gorgeous, but it is more under control:

front yard, after

Pulling up every weed is challenging because they get entangled with the bushes that are planted. Overall, we’re happy with the progress and more motivated to maintain it on an ongoing basis.

Mike did almost all the hard work on behalf of mad:

Wishing all our faithful readers a happy earth day!

a quiet return

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

mad is returning from a long hiatus with a short explanation and a follow-up on one of our little mad projects. The good news is that mad is still here, still in the maison d’etre (oh no, bad international puns), and still working. We’ve thought of our little blog and our faithful readers many times, but we simply fell off the mad maison wagon for a bit. Part of it was my employment situation–I (denise) left my job at one technology company and found a great job at another (better) technology company. In truth, however, that’s not the only reason. While I won’t say that mad stopped working on the house completely over the last few months, we definitely slowed down significantly. Call it a break, call it a little home repair burnout, mike and I needed to catch our breath for a bit. With a new year, of course, come new resolutions and new convictions. We’re back to repairing plaster, spackling, and working on our little projects.

As you may recall from this post, I wanted to make an old lamp I found in the house a little more mad. I’m happy to report that the project is complete (after spending a few too many months in our garage). It’s still old, it’s still funky, but it’s much more to our liking:

a little lamp project (after)

a little lamp project (after)

And for those of you who would like a reminder of what it looked like before:

a little project

my little lamp project (before)

Thanks to those of you who have patiently waited for our return; we plan to reward you in 2011 with more frequent posts about our ongoing adventures!

a mad rabbit hole. . .

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

While we’ve made plenty of progress over the last year, our home is still very much in transition. As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, there are many items mad is waiting to unpack until our rehab efforts are complete. Thankfully, there’s a room in the garage (that was once my dad’s bedroom) that facilitates this storage.

Storage Room

The garage storage room that enables the mad approach

Sometimes, however, our approach can be a little frustrating (especially given our well known type a tendencies). The good news is that today’s rabbit hole was started for a good cause. I brought a few things back with me from my five years in New York. An appreciation for real seasons, a partner in life, and an affection for the New York Mets baseball team. My fandom was prompted in part by Mike (who loves all things baseball) but also by getting to know the Mets over a four-year period. I like that they’re scappy–even though they have a pretty high payroll. I like that they always act like a team (as opposed to a gathering of well-paid position players). I like that they’re the ancestors of the Dodgers and the Giants. I like the big apple in the top hat and the whole Met mascot family. And I like that they’re always the underdog due to another NY baseball team that we don’t need to name. I will even admit that I even like the way the Mets make you earn your fandom. Mike and I don’t have any animosity towards other baseball teams, but the Mets are menschkeit to us (especially with Isaac Benjamin Davis at first base and Howie Rose announcing the plays).

How does this relate to our storage room? The Mets are kicking off their west coast roadtrip this week. In honor of this, Mike and I decided to get some bleacher seats to see them at AT&T park here in SF. There really aren’t any bad seats at our local ballpark, and one of our best dates was going to see the Brooklyn Cyclones at Coney Island in the bleachers. Of course, to properly pay tribute to the Mets I wanted to bring my super-cool stadium seat cushion. And of course, this cushion was still packed away in one of our many boxes full of art in the storage room.

nym stadium seat

the cause of today's rabbit hole

Mike was kind enough to halt work on his office to locate the cushion. After a couple of hours, he found it–in the last box he looked in (why are these things always in the last box?). Of course, he found a few other items that we’ve agreed to take out of storage (towels and sheets)–and the room is neater and more organized than when he started. I showed my appreciation for Mike’s efforts by making him a homemade pizza while he was working away. Now both residents of mad maison are sated.

mad pizza

a little thank you from one member of mad maison to another

desperate mad innovations

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

We’ve mentioned before the essential role that Big Wally’s plaster repair has played in the rehab of both our Living Room, what will be our bedroom, and we expect every other room of the house. Big Wally’s reattaches the plaster walls to the wooden lathe that sit behind it. When mad used Big Wally’s in the living room, we came very close to running out of the precious caulk. Therefore, I ordered twice the amount of caulk for the bedroom. Unfortunately, the walls in the bedroom were in worse shape than the living room. And with about 12 holes that still required caulk, we ran out. You can only buy Big Wally’s on the internet, so mad needed to implement some combat tactics in order to stay on schedule. As documented before, mad performs well under pressure. Using a chopstick and a pair of scissors we were able to squeeze those last few drops of caulk out of every tube. Thankfully, it was just enough to fill those remaining 12 holes. Most important, it kept the final week of the bedroom rehab work on track.

Completed bedroom plaster repair thanks to scissors, chopsticks, and guile.

sometimes you eat the bar . . .

Monday, December 28th, 2009

and, as the dude would say, sometimes the bar eats you. While it’s been a struggle, mad continues to make progress towards completing the rehab on what will be our primary bedroom. Our goal is to have the bedroom complete around the first of January, which means the clock is ticking. In case you’re new to mad maison, or our living room rehab feels like a distant memory, the steps for being “primer ready” are extensive:

1. Remove crazy-glued, band-aid brand wallpaper that was hidden under layers of paint. Remember to employ water, steam, DIF spray, and anything else you can think of to get the wallpaper off. Curse occasionally when a piece of wall accompanies the wallpaper. Sacrifice at least one outfit to the wallpaper removal deities and tell yourself you still have three rooms and a hallway to go (and with them, plenty of opportunities to wear this crusty ensemble).
2. Identify all of the cracks in the walls of the room and determine how many of those cracks represent the walls coming of the lathe. Grumble when you realize it’s most of the cracks. Stare in wonder at the crack that goes up one wall, across the ceiling, and down the other wall.
3. Drill holes in the wall in preparation for the Big Wally’s treatment. Remember to get out all destructive feelings during the drilling.
4. Complete the Big Wally’s repair process by spraying conditioner and then caulk into the holes you just created (yes, even upside-down on the ceiling). Screw in temporary clamps to ensure the Big Wally treatment does it’s job. Wait 24 hours.
5. Slather copious amounts of joint compound/patching plaster over every hole, gouge, crack, and crevice in the walls (yes, even upside-down on the ceiling). Wait 24 hours.
6. Sand the walls as smooth as possible without removing all the joint compound you just applied.
7. Apply two coats of primer–the first primer these walls will see in their 101 years on this planet.
8. Apply two coats of paint.

This room should have been easier than the living room. It’s smaller, the ceilings are lower, and there was no mantle to remove. Alas, this was not the case. The wallpaper was beyond comprehension and underneath that wallpaper the walls were in much worse shape. Despite this, mad endures. We’ve completed all plaster repair and we’ll have finished all the joint compound application before we head to bed tonight. I’m taking off this week from work so we can achieve our goal. Our plan is to sand tomorrow and prime on Wednesday. Painting, which Mike used to hate more than anything, will be our favorite part of the process.

I read a lot of “shelter” and home design blogs when I’m not working or working on mad maison (feel free to check out Apartment Therapy’s 2009 Homies feature to see the variety of blogs out there). When I lived in New York, these were a fun distraction that provided the occasional inspiration for a small tweak to our perfect (in our eyes) home. Now, they inspire me to action and, I will admit, occasionally make me feel a little slow and inadequate. But then I remind myself that Mike and I signed up for the entire journey together, not just the destination. I remember that I live in one of the best cities on earth where I get to enjoy not only the history of this 101 year-old building but the family history that comes with living in the house my Dad grew up in. I remind myself that all of this home rehab work will be well worth it when it’s done. I remind myself that we’ll be living in chaos for only a fraction of the time we’ll be living in this house. And I look out the window of what will be our beautiful bedroom, past the rooftops of those uniquely San Franciscan homes and at the peak of the Bay we get to see and remind myself that this is all well worth it.

We at mad maison definitely have more in common with the tortoise than the hare. Finishing will be all the 'win' we need. Photo courtesy of

We’re still here. . .

Monday, December 7th, 2009

I have no excuses. I’ve been back from my business travels for a couple of weeks now, and honestly, it took me a while to recuperate. After the Thanksgiving holiday (and I hope all of our readers had a pleasant holiday), I knew I was starting to feel better when I cooked honest-to-goodness meals in our kitchen every night last week. Our kitchen was remodeled in the 80’s, and we had some new appliances installed before we moved in. So while the honey-oak cabinets and flowered wallpaper isn’t to mad’s taste, it’s a little more fun to cook in that our tiny galley-style NYC apartment kitchen. After all that wholesome nutrition, it’s not surprising that I felt inclined to get back to work. Mike and I attacked our bedroom walls and we have removed almost all of the wallpaper. Mike and I are confident that with some additional work during this week, we’ll be ready for plaster repair next weekend. Our goal is to have the bedroom walls complete (including paint) by the end of December. I know I say this with every room, but I do believe this is the hardest room we’ll have to complete. Unlike the dining room or other bedroom, the room we’re working on now (like the living room before it) has painted-over wallpaper, which is particularly challenging to remove. But thanks to copious amounts of DIF wallpaper removal gel, a Wagner power steamer, and lots of elbow grease, we’re getting it off. The fact that wallpaper has “come back” as a design trend boggles our minds–and we think anyone who is thinking of installing wallpaper in their home should come to ours and help us get this stuff off the walls.

In the meanwhile, I was looking at one of my favorite blogs, Apartment Therapy, and read an interesting post about a simple remodel that involves the two primary things mad plans to do with our kitchen–paint the cabinets and replace the counters with butcher block. Feel free to take a peak at a place that a little more “finished” than ours.

A little eye candy. Photo credit:

A little eye candy. Photo credit:

I can see clearly now. . .

Monday, November 16th, 2009

When you spend your entire life in one region and you’re presented with the idiosyncrasies of other regions, you’re sometimes caught off-guard. While I had lived in various parts of California before I moved to New York in 2004, I lived in California exclusively. There were two of these issues that affected me more than the others. I’ve already spoken about the summer weather (and particularly the humidity). The other one, I’m a little ashamed to admit, is a particularly virulent case of New York city hard water. While I had seen the occasional dishwasher detergent commercial that alluded to it, I had never experienced it for myself. Then, when I moved to New York, over the years, I noticed our drinking glasses started to look, well, disgusting. We had a dishwasher–which didn’t help. We purchased products like rinse aid, jet dry, etc. . .none of them helped. We even brought the hard water stains back to California with us. We were on the verge of purchasing new glasses (which would have cut into our wallpaper removal gel budget), when I turned to my old friend, the internet. And then I discovered a potential fix. That bottle of white vinegar hiding under the sink.

Neither the internet nor the vinegar disappointed me. mad is happy to report that our continued wallpaper removal efforts will not be stalled. After a little soaking, and a little scrubbing, we’re happy to report that we have glasses that look like glasses again. Perhaps they’ll even stay this way now that we’re here in the Golden State.

Before, with the hard water stains.

Before, with the hard water stains.

Clear as well, glass, after

Clear as well, glass, after. And yes, that's the same glass.

A small mad success, brought to you by. . .

A small mad success, brought to you by. . .

I could use some red slippers

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

Progress on mad maison, both the house and the blog, has slowed a bit due to my October business travel schedule. Over the course of one month, I will have flown over 20,000 miles. Traveling for work has its perks (you get to see colleagues you normally wouldn’t, and in the case of my most recent travels, I’ve gotten to see customers as well, which is always fun), but it is always grueling. There’s no sleeping in to get over your jet lag, very little decompression time, and the knowledge that your “regular” work will be waiting for you in exponential quantities when you eventually get home. And I can tell you, even when your house isn’t perfect, you miss it terribly. Even though the water pressure here in my UK hotel room is better than the mad shower, I still miss home. And of course, there’s the guilt I feel about taking Mike from his hometown to the city by the bay, only to leave him alone to scrape wallpaper and care for our cats. Of course, he’s a trooper and happy to help, but my guilt persists anyway.

When we were originally planning to transform my father’s childhood home into mad maison, we were comforted by the notion that two of the rooms (our bedroom and the living room) didn’t have wallpaper. We were wrong. They have the worst kind of wallpaper–insidious, hidden under layers of paint, and unevenly applied over badly cracked plaster. We’ve repaired the walls in the living room, and Mike has been tackling the bedroom inch by painful inch. It’s taking every ounce of steam, DIF goo, and elbow grease Mike has to get the wallpaper off, but he is making progress. Until then, we’re still living in a serious state of transition and we’re eager for that to change. I’m also eager to actually scrape by Mike’s side when I return from Europe this weekend.

They may not be slippers, but they are red. Perhaps if I click my heels in them I'll be home again.

They may not be slippers, but they are red. Perhaps if I click my heels in them I'll be home again.

The next project

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

I know that we owe a full set of pictures on the living room, but I thought I would share the next room mad has started working on. We were foolish enough to think that no room would present us with more challenging wallpaper than the living room. I was wrong. The room that will be our bedroom has walls that are in terrible need of plaster repair. I’m guessing someone before mad realized that, because the walls are comprised of some kind of mysterious cardboard-bandage-wallpaper hybrid that sits on top of some kind of magic adhesive, but underneath a layer of peachy-pink paint. Yup, it’s that bad. Honestly, mad would have simply repaired the cracked plaster and painted on top of the mystery walls if not for the visible horizontal “stripes” of wallpaper that can be seen on the two long walls around the 6-foot mark. So, mad has been diligently removing layer after layer of mystery substance. The only thing that keeps us going is the knowledge that one day we’ll have a real bedroom with walls that we completely understand.

Can you see the mystery stripe? It's really there, I promise.

Can you see the mystery stripe? It's really there, I promise.

Rolling along. . .

Monday, September 21st, 2009

You’ve heard the adage measure twice, cut once? Today, mad is going to remind our readers why that adage exists.

One of the benefits of living in an older Victorian is the beautiful woodwork that surrounds our windows and doorways. The woodwork, coupled with the relatively small size of our living room, inspired mad to get roman shades to cover the downstairs windows. My grandparents used to have both shades and sheers on the windows, so we decided to go with something a little more sleek and straightforward. I found beautiful red cotton shades. I knew we wanted to do an interior mount on the shades, so I measured the windows multiple times and called the company to make sure I was getting the right size. When the shades arrived, we learned that they weren’t as long as stated. After calling the company they sent me an extra shade for free and I found an awesome seamstress to graft the extra shade onto the original three shades. Unfortunately, when we started to install the shades we realized that one of the three windows in the living room is two inches wider than the other two. I measured twice–but I didn’t measure each window twice. Thankfully, mad had already planned to use the same shades in the the dining room, so I can use one of the recently lengthened shades in there. But of course, we still need to receive and install the wider shade on the middle window. Yesterday, we installed the two shades that fit in the living room with the assistance of the brother-man. It seems that many things with this house turn out to be a little more complicated than originally planned–the brother-man had to drill an extra hole in the metal bracket so everything would fit correctly, but once he did everything moved along nicely. We love the color–especially against the paint color on the living room walls.

Of course, this means we can’t show you the full reveal until we receive the wider shade for the middle window (lengthen it if needed) and install it. Honestly, we’re pretty happy with two nice, new window coverings. I’m clearly getting easier to please.

our beautiful new window coverings--not on every window, but we're happy to have them on any at this point.

our beautiful new window coverings--not on every window, but we're happy to have them on any at this point.

We’re still here. . .

Friday, September 11th, 2009

My apologies, loyal readers. A series of annoying (yet not too devastating) setbacks plus an unrelenting work schedule have prevented me from posting lately. I’ll be back in regular form very soon. Shall I provide you with some teasers?

  • The tarantula is gone and a light is up
  • The new living room mantle is painted
  • That old adage “measure twice, cut once” is still relevant today
  • While the living room is not perfect, we’ve started to tackle our second room of the house

So you can see, there are plenty of reasons to come back to

Living Room Progress

Monday, July 27th, 2009

I’m happy to report that progress is being made in the living room–slowly, but surely. Our living room is close to being ready for primer. This is due in large part to another home improvement product that is on mad’s side. Thanks to copious online research (including watching online reruns of “This Old House”) mad found Wally’s Plaster Magic (no, I didn’t made that name up). This product is designed for people with old plaster walls that have “slipped off the lath.” When this happens, your walls wiggle (which is not considered ideal). Through Wally’s multi-step process we were able to re-glue the plaster to the lath–and it worked! mad’s goal is to address things like this properly–without ripping all the character out of the house. We want to keep the sturdy, insulating, sound-proofing plaster rather than rip it down and put drywall up. Not only does it maintain the character of the house, but it is quite a bit more economical. Now that our walls don’t wiggle, we’ve been spackling and skimming with glee towards the glorious moment when we’ll be able to prime, and spirits willing, paint. mad is also trying to stick to our “one room at a time” philosophy. We quickly figured out that working through one room at a time until it’s finished is more our style–and allows us to embrace a little bit of organization in a life otherwise filled with chaos. What do we have left to do in the living room, you ask? Just a little:

  1. Scrape the loose paint off the ceiling and spackle
  2. Purchase and attach new moulding around the “fireplace”
  3. Prime the walls, ceilings, and mouldings
  4. Paint

We’ll post before and after pics when it’s done, which we’re hoping will be relatively (and I mean relatively) soon.

thank you Wally--though we think something called "magical" shouldn't require so much work

thank you Wally--though we think something called "magic" shouldn't require so much work

the little things help a lot

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

Transitioning from a nicely apportioned, full-service apartment building to a 100-year-old house that needs a lot of work is an interesting experience.  We can accept that we’re only living in two rooms and can’t remember what it feels like to have a rug underfoot. But we cannot accept the pull-chain light in the bathroom. Allow me to explain. The bathroom upstairs has some “period” details. Like the claw-foot tub that if given the opportunity, Duckie the cat would spend all day and night hidden under. So we keep the door to said bathroom closed. This wouldn’t be a big deal if not for the pull-chain light. Do you remember these? Perhaps from when you visited your grandmother’s house in the 1970’s (because by now she’s updated it). It also wouldn’t be such a big deal if the pull-chain light was somewhere other than the middle of the room right over the shower rod. Or if we didn’t have 1,000 year old plaster walls that would infect us with typhus and destroy our humor if we tried to rip them up to install a light switch (you would have thought that Gerard the electrician saw a ghost dropping a hair dryer into a tub filled with water when we asked if he could install said switch). So by week two in the new mad maison, we were ready for one of those new-fangled geeky appliances known as a light switch. We had dreams of going into the bathroom in the middle of the night and not stubbing our toe and stumbling into the walls while keeping our legs crossed looking for the darn chain. Like Joan of Arc or Deborah from the Torah, I was motivated to act.

I saw a light emanating from my laptop. It led me to google. And the internet spoke to me. Through a fellow blogger who long since abandoned her post, I found out about the wireless light socket switch. I’ve seen (and used) similar devices for outlets, but did not know that you could get such a device for a light socket. And so, my friend fulfilled our needs and sent us the apparatus. Of course, we had to switch the light fixture out before we could use it–but once we had everything set up the fog lifted and the angels sang (or maybe that was just a cat meowing from outside the bathroom door). We can now walk into the bathroom and turn on the light with a flip of a switch. It might not be as good as an elevator, porter, and super on call, but it will placate us for a while, at least. Until we find the next little thing.

who knew this little device could inspire such prose?

who knew this little device could inspire such prose?

checking things off

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

OK, perhaps we’re grasping at straws, but mad is feeling pretty good today. We’ve been working hard over the past few weeks: scrubbing and scraping, and scrubbing some more. And while mad has finished tasks in the legal sense (scraping wallpaper off the living room walls, setting up our home network), today we completed something that doesn’t have another chapter. Our doorbell was broken. And when you live in a house with a scary metal gate over the front door (another task that’s almost complete), you realize having a doorbell helps. So today, thanks to spirit and wit (and a screwdriver), mad replaced the doorbell with one that actually works. Now, to say that mad completed this task is a little bit of a stretch. Mike is the member of mad that purchased the doorbell, he’s also the person who balanced himself at the top of the stepladder and removed the old, rusted doorbell, and he’s the one who installed the new doorbell. However, Mike says I participated in critical ways: the online research to diagnose the problem and suggest a remedy, reading the documentation, and handing Mike the screwdriver when he stood perched atop the stepladder. Of course, I also completed the test ringing of said bell. I admit, Mike is the real hero of mad today, but I’m happy to serve as witness and documentarian for this historic milestone.

Our completed doorbell project; please ignore the wallpaper, that's a different project.

Our completed doorbell project; please ignore the wallpaper, that's a different project.

mad in SF. . . in every way

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Yes, we made it. Our cross country drive went pretty much as planned (more later, I promise). Today, our first full day in SF, the cable guy came and hooked up our internet access. In other respects, we’re camping indoors. It’s true that you don’t appreciate the little things like running water and a working toilet in the same room until you’ve lost it. Therefore, mad will be focused on some critical infrastructure projects this week before I go back to work–removing wallpaper and painting will have to wait until the little things like electricity and plumbing are addressed. But we do have broadband, which placates me a little and makes it easier to resolve the other issues.

There are some things I won’t miss

Friday, June 12th, 2009

In an earlier post I talked about the joys of NY City living, including the conveniences of living in a full-service building. There are some things I’m glad to be rid of. While the folks who work in my building are great, the property management firm that oversees my building provides me with regular lessons in patience and karma. In order to have anything brought in or out of the building, the company delivering (or removing) the items has to fax a certificate of insurance to the property manager. Given my tendencies, I had spoken with the moving company about this months ago when we first selected them, and I followed up with them and found out they faxed the certificate of insurance to my property manager on June 6. Of course, my property manager didn’t contact me or the movers to confirm or let us know if there was anything wrong with the certificate. I called today, and they said they didn’t receive the certificate (check the boards in Vegas for the odds on the accuracy of that statement). I faxed them a second copy, and called back–only to find out at that point that the certificate needed some changes. Understand, these people will stop the movers from entering the building if there’s one T left uncrossed or one I left undotted. Therefore, in addition to wrapping up things at work before my “vacation” started, I had to deal with faxing and phoning these people who seem to be put on this earth to make things more difficult. Needless to say, knowing that in a few short weeks (once I get back my security deposit back) I won’t have to deal with another property manager (hopefully ever) brings a feeling of joy into my heart.

Red tape never disappears completely, but here's to shedding some of it

Red tape never disappears completely, but here's to shedding some of it