Dad Update

This directly from Mom:

Today he walked down the hall with a cane. When he comes home Friday, there will be no wheel chair as was first planned on, just the walker. Today we had a conference with the Dr., an OT, a PT and 2 social service folk to get info and ask questions. Got a few instructions. He will have therapists come to our home every couple days. They will inform the Dr. regarding his competence, etc. They will also suggest how to make his life go well here. He has recovered remarkably well. Will have to keep him moving to have it continue. Maybe some walks around the bridge table. We should be playing in a short time.

He’s doing really remarkably well. I returned him to the hospital Sunday night after his furlough. Other than being ready to catch him if he needed it and pushing his wheelchair, I did not help him at all, not even transferring, not even changing his clothes.

SOLD! One Down, Two to Go

I just got back from Preferred Title, where Josh completed the sale of his house. The new owner seems pretty great; she definitely appreciates the house, yard and neighborhood.

Two to go, meaning that we have to finish my house and sell it, and buy our house together. We looked at our first house the other night. We like it, yet it needs work.

I’d like to work a few hours today and take the afternoon off to work on the house.

We Deserve McCain/Palin

Really, we do. If, as a country, we are stupid enough to fall for false controversies like the “Lipstick on a pig” thing, then we deserve them. If we haven’t had enough of five years in Iraq, and are ready to go with “another hundred years,” then we deserve them. If we don’t know enough about John McCain to know that the guy has an anger management problem–to the point that senators in his own party are concerned about his being president because of his un-senatorial-like behavior on the floor of the senate–then we deserve them. If we aren’t afraid of the attacks they they will continue on a woman’s right to choose, then we deserve them (and any Hillary supporter that’s a woman who went to Palin–you go gurl!).

A good five minutes on YouTube should give anyone enough time to learn about McCain and the issues I mentioned above, not to mention all of his gaffs–forgetting the difference between Iran and Iraq, etc.
Apparently Americans are as stupid as frogs sitting in ever-increasingly-hot water. I wonder if we’ll even figure out when it’s boiling and we’re cooked. I sure hope we’re tasty.

Dad Had a Stroke

Mom called me around Midnight Tuesday to let me know that Dad was on the way to the hospital after experiencing what seemed like a stroke. He was taken to UW Hospital, for which I was very grateful. It wasn’t a dramatic stroke–he was mainly experiencing weakness on one side.

I visited with Josh after work the next day and Julie was there as well. Stroke is something unfamiliar in our family, so she didn’t know what to expect. His writing is not very readable (but he can write!) and his leg and arm are weak (but not paralyzed!). He was able to sit up and eat right-handed, albeit slowly. There appars to be no cognitive damage–he still remembers that McCain and Palin are running mates on the Republican ticket, and he thinks that Palin was an excellent choice (that’s not a sign of new brain damage–he would have thought that anyway. ;o)).
Mom was pretty concerned about how she was going to help him at home, since she’s not strong enough to help him ambulate. Well, I just spoke with her this morning, and she is much relieved. Dad will be staying in the hospital for a week getting rigorous rehabilitation. She was afraid of how she was going to help him when his right side is too weak for him to walk. They’re already having him sit for a couple hours at a time and walk the halls with a walker.
They determined from the CAT Scan that the stroke was caused by a small blood clot, but I think she said they said it was moving or had moved through. His brain would have to heal from that, then his body. A physical therapist suggested he’d be a lot stronger by the time they went home.
Dad really wants to go home. He’s jonesin’ for a cigarette. Mom is overruling him–he’ll be staying for treatment. The doctor talked to Dad about smoking very likely being the cause of the stroke. He doesn’t care. He’s not interested in a program to help him quit. And he won’t be smoking for at least another week.
I’m very grateful for his current state, and that the prognosis looks so good.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes…

I’ve been a ba-a-a-ad blogger lately. Eesh–June 16.

Lots has been going on. Josh and I have been working madly to get his house ready for sale. While it’s been going well overall, things are, uh, happening. It’s like the house knows what we’re doing, doesn’t want him to leave, and wants to get me out of the way. Seriously–it’s like a bad horror movie I saw once about a house that killed the family that lived there! With all the flooding a couple months ago we’ve spent a fair amount of time in the basement; we’ve installed two new sump pumps (impact drills are a BLAST!), and Josh, mostly, cleaned and painted the floors and walls.

JUST when we got done cleaning the floors I go upstairs to get ready for a shower. I use the toilet and flush it. I hear Josh yell downstairs. The capped-off drain has water coming out of it. What the… We thought maybe we broke the cap with the stuff we used to etch the basement. Josh paid a plumber to come in to put on a new $4 cap. 😉 However, he suggested the cap wasn’t the problem, as there shouldn’t be enough pressure to force the water out. He suggested the line needs roto-rooting.

During all this time in the basement, I was continually attacked by venting. Josh has a low basement ceiling and ducts that hang even lower. I have numerous scars on the top of my head now. I guess you could also consider that I’m just too stupid to learn to bend down enough.

Yesterday Josh put in the last piece of trim, completing the last wall upstairs. And not without a fight. The last piece needed to be cut at an angle, and of course the miter needed to be flatter than 45°, so we had to do lots of improvisation with the chop saw. My visual mind comes in quite handy for stuff like this, so it turned out pretty well–it just took an inordinately long time.

On my way out the back door at one point I caught my ankle on the corner of the storm door, and it put a nice little gash on my right ankle. Great–the house has already tasted my blood in the basement, and apparently wants more. Will I get out of there alive?

We met our Realtor, Connie, a few weeks ago. She’s great. We planned out all the stuff we want to leave in the house for staging, and what’s going–either into the garage, to my house, or St. Vinny’s. I did all kinds of cleaning this weekend while Josh worked on other projects.

And this brings us to the big change: Josh is moving in to my house tonight, along with his two cats, Feliz and Maggie. So I’m doing something I’ve never done before at age 41: living with a partner. And we have to do the whole protocol on combining feline families; his girls will have to stay in a bedroom for a full month.

I’ve been so looking forward to out living together, because I’m really tired of having to cross town to spend time together. And I realized last week that there’s some anxiety about that as well. I’ve been used to living alone (maybe with a roommate, but that’s not like a partner) for many years. What will this be like? Add the stress of combining cat households and it gets more significant. That didn’t go so incredibly well when Raja came to live here, and he and Butterscotch never were truly friendly–the formed a sort of detente.

So, after church we go back over to Josh’s house to do more cleaning and moving stuff. There’s more to write, but I’m starving for pancakes.

Information Overload to Overlord

Part 4 of a 10-part series on spending LESS time administrating your life and more time LIVING it!

The Challenge

There is more information generated in the U.S. in one day than any of us could digest in our lifetimes. And sometimes that’s what our inbox feels like. I’ve experienced that myself. I felt inundated by good or even great tips, hints, techniques, learnings, that I couldn’t keep up. I also got information from other sources: the web, pictures on my cell phone, etc. Note to mention my own ideas!

How do you organize all those different kinds of information? I tried Word documents, wiki pages, etc., and none of it was satisfactory. And then I tripped on the answer.

The Solution—Evernote

Evernote is amazing. It’s a program you install on your computer (Windows, Mac, iPhone, etc.) where you can put just about anything, and then organize it.

Get an email with a great marketing idea? Highlight the pertinent paragraph and click the “Add to Evernote” button. It will become an entry in your Evernote notebook (of which you can have several) that contains the header information of the email and the paragraph you just highlighted. You can then add tags of your own design (marketing, great idea, etc.). You can even click a link that will open the original email!

Same thing on the web: I’ve been doing home renovations and was having a challenge with the trim in one of the bedrooms. I found a GREAT online tutorial for installing trim. I highlighted the whole thing—pictures and all—and copied it into Evernote. It was saved perfectly, as well as a link to the web page where I found it.

Now comes the really valuable (ok, and fun) part: click into the search box and start typing. As you type, Evernote highlights words in every entry that match what you’re typing as you type it, and filters out any entries that don’t have that word! Thus, if you have 3,000 entries and only one with the word “didgeridoo,” probably by the time you type “didg” you’ll be looking at that one lone note. Evernote has indexed all of the information in your entries. Excellent!

Oh, but wait, cuz there’s something even cooler: I was shopping for doors for the closet in said bedroom. I took pictures with my cell phone of the signs with the prices. I came home and pasted them into Evernote. That picture has words in it, right? Evernote reads the text in pictures and indexes them, too! So, if I took six pictures of signs, I can just type the word “door” and it will filter down to include those entries. Or “pine,” etc.

If that weren’t enough, you can sync your notebook to your mobile device and have access to it there as well! As well as adding entries on your phone (pictures, words), and sync it back to your computer. You can also make notebooks public and sync them to the web. Then you can share them with friends or colleagues. You can do the same type of search on the web of entering words and filtering those entries that have them.

How else could you use Evernote? How about ideas for blog entries, marketing ideas, capturing whiteboards of meetings on your phone, having all of your ‘ideas’ available to you, both at home and at work, going paperless by taking pictures of all of those scraps and notes on your desk, organizing recipes, research, tracking books you want, gifts to by, and on and on.

And organizing them all with tags. Takes my breath away!

Evernote is officially in Beta, so you’ll need to “register” to try it. Don’t worry—it’s free.

Your Next Steps

  • Learn more about Evernote.
  • Go to Register to test Evernote Beta and get a response in a day or so.
  • Have questions? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll answer them in a future blog entry
  • Have other technology that makes your life easier? Please leave me a comment—I’d love to learn more tips and tricks, and may share it here in the future!

Next issue: schedule meetings with multiple people looking at multiple possible meeting dates and times…

What a Knob

There are a number of basic truths that I’ve learned while working on my house. Here’s one.

I’ve learned that to be most successful, it’s best that one has experience in doing this type of work.

I don’t.

Next-best is having a level of intelligence to figure things out and think ahead.

I’ve learned time and time again that I’m often a moron about this stuff.

Next-next-best is to have high standards for the work.

Oh, this I have. And it’s a blessing and a curse. Quite often my standards surpass my ability to meet them, and I end up frustrated or re-working things ad nauseum and still not reaching the level of quality I want.

Next3-best is to be stubborn.

OK, now we’re getting somewhere. I have this in spades.

Let’s look at tonight. What’s on the agenda? Touch up the paint in the third bedroom and finish painting the door and install it. I’m touching up the paint, and I’m noticing that there a funny smudges of paint appearing on the floor. Huh? I cleaned those up last night. ? They’re so flat that almost look like– Oh. I stepped on paint on the drop cloth and I’m walking around the room. Take off shoes. Scrape up paint.

Now to the door. I’ve already gone through the whole thing of stripping the old paint, during which I gouged the door in a few places. To fix the gouges? Wood filler. Great! It’s dry, I sanded, here we go. I paint the door white… and it bleeds through. Second layer–bleeds through. Third layer–bleeds through (remember the deal about being stubborn?). Finally I checked with Josh, “Did you prime it?” Uh, no; I didn’t know I needed to. So last night I primed both sides. *sigh* ok.

Tonight. I paint the last coat with the color I want. Great. It’s covered. It’s done. Great. I install the new strike plate I bought. Doesn’t match the other hardware, but whatever–it looks good. At least it’s not painted over like it was (all the hardware: strike plates, hinges, etc. were all painted over! They looked like crap!). I’m replacing it all.

Next step: install the new door knob. OK, think now, Jay. Do this right so you don’t have to redo it. I have pretty good spatial skills, so this shouldn’t be a big deal. I imagine the door. I imagine standing at the door in the room. OK, this is right. I get out the door knob. Oh look, it comes with its own strike plate! *sigh* OK, well the other ones I bought can go to the Re-Store…

I’ve never installed a door knob before, although getting the old one off was a b****. It was the old kind with the cover plate, and I ended up using a straight-headed screwdriver, which took forever.

I read the instructions. Easy enough. Put in the thing, add the knobs (think, Jay: lock goes on the inside. Check!). Then put in the screws. What the– How do you easily screw in screws on a doorknob?! Answer: there is no easy way. I even tried Google searches. Nothing. I even bought one of those angled screwdriver things, and it was a pain. I was simultaneously stripping the screw head and scratching the knob with it.

I seem to notice repeatedly that it’s never the big things that slow me down. It’s always the little, piddliest s***** things that hang me up.

I finally ended up–you guess it–using a straight screwdriver and coming in at an angle. Whew. ok. Done. The screw is a bit stripped, but I’ll never have to take it off, so who cares (you’re smart enough to see where this is headed; smarter than me, obviously).

Next, the hinges. I bought these nice hinges that match the knobs. They have square corners instead of rounded ones, so I screw them in, then use a utility knife to mark the parts I have to carve out. I thought that was pretty smart, actually. I like doing these kinds of things empirically. It worked well. I need to fix some of the paint, but so be it. I installed both hinges on the door. Great.

Next, let’s install the door. I take it in to the room and– Wait. Why is the knob so high? Oh, cuz I’m a jackass is why–when I was visualizing the door I had it upside-down. That means I (!#$%*$#$%) installed the door knob with the lock out! (^%^#$%~#$!#$!) OK, deal with that in a second. First get empirical again: put the door on the jamb, and take a scraper and hammer it at the edges to mark where I need to trim.

Next is the knob, but I need another success first. A little one will do. I take off the shiny brass strike plate and put on the matching one. yeah. a success. far out.

Now take off the door knob (forever), switch it around and install it again (forever and a day). OK, time I’ll never get back in this lifetime, but the knob is right now.

Then take off the door and trim the wood. Put the door back on. Hm. The paint isn’t perfect. Maybe a light sanding, but NOT TONIGHT.

Apart from that, just the shelf and rod in the closet and closet doors. although the opening is 3-1/8″ larger than the standard door size. I’ll get frustrated with that tomorrow…

Today’s Quote

Yeah, four blog entries in one day, but this one is a quickie. I had a bit of a conflict today, and I came up with this quote:

It’s not only a great idea to pick one’s battles, sometimes it’s even best to let the war go as well.

Water Levels Rising, Captain!

Parte Un

While I don’t mind water, what my house does with it pisses me off.

I have a couple of big trees over my house; they are forever depositing crap onto my roof that, therefore, ends up in my gutters.

Now, these are new gutters that I had installed after I (yeah, myself with friends) reroofed the house. The guys who installed the gutters and downspouts have an ingenious method for installing the downspouts in such a way that they are SURE to trap every leave, helicopter or dust mote, thereby clogging my gutters. They cut an “X” in the gutter, bend the four flaps created down and out (but not to 90 degrees), then secure the downspout by screwing a 1.5″ nail IN so that there are now SIX sharp objects available for trapping debris.

WTF?

It literally takes about 5 leaves for the whole thing to come to a screeching halt. With huge trees over my house, how often do you think that happens? Yes, less than a day.

The gutters I had when I bought this house were rusty–even rusted through on the front (CLUE IN JAY). I had new ones installed, and thought that they were using extra-large downspouts. Imagine my dismay when I’m laying in bed one morning during a gentle rain, hearing the rain slosh over the sides of the gutter and pouring onto the deck. @#$%@#$!

So, fine, I went up and cleaned them out. Oh, and those sharp corners and screws? Of course I cut myself. Once.

So they were full again this weekend. We didn’t have time before church, so afterward we came back and I got up on the roof (don’t worry, I have a great ladder) and cleaned them out. That was around noon. I then worked at Josh’s during the day getting stuff out of his basement so that he can clean and paint. I get home at 5:30 and they’re full again! @#$%@#$%@#$! So, in the pouring rain I went up again and cleaned out the few little leaves that were blocking. *Sigh*

My brother Jim, who’s an engineer and genius to boot, put pieces of screen over his gutters so that water would flow in and debris would stay on top. I think that would work for leaves, but I’m not sure about the smaller stuff. I’m going to give it a shot. I’ve heard that Gutter Helmets are useless with trees above the house. I’m also going to go back and do it right (as with so many other things in this house) by removing the downspouts, bending out the “X” pieces at a full 90 degrees, and reattaching the downspouts with a little bolt with the ROUNDED END on the inside. Would that be so freaking difficult?

If anyone else has a great, even easy, suggestion for me that works great, I’ll buy you lunch. I’m not kidding.

Parte Deux

After I clean out the gutters and have just finished making the window frame square in the third bedroom (another correction of past sins…), I get a frantic call from Josh: his basement is filling with water and he’s pretty upset. He has two basement rooms, one newer than the other. The new, smaller laundry room gets water in it that he needs to shopvac out when the water table is high. Well, last night the big room was filling. Luckily he has his stuff elevated.

When I get to his house I find the basement with inches of water in it. I brought my two water pumps. We worked for several hours, me pumping and bailing water, and him patching as much of the wall as he could with Quickcrete. However, with the water table that high, it’s not a winning battle. The back yards in this block are all lower than the fronts and there was a small ocean in them. Josh’s neighbor Bill usually pumps out the lake to the street with a huge pump he has, but even Bill’s garage had stuff floating in it. An amazing amount of water.

We knocked off at Midnight after I printed several different sets of instructions for installing a sump pump. Josh purchased two today and will jerry rig them for now until he can get them installed correctly. He was so grateful that I dropped everything and came over.

Hey, that’s why I’m here.

Hm. I guess that kinda puts my gutters into perspective…

Flipped

Given: I have a great memory for some things: language, syntax, numbers.

Given: I have a horrible memory for some things: anything related to history such as dates, times, places; what I had for lunch yesterday; where I put my keys; etc.

Therefore: I like systems. A lot.

When I was a kid I’d misplace things and get really frustrated a lot. I discovered that if I did things in consistent ways, I wouldn’t lose my stuff. Further, if I took steps so that I couldn’t help but use the system, I’d be much better off.

Here’s an example: if I need to remember to take something to work, leave it on the counter, under my keys (of course, I always leave my keys on the counter).

Another: Since I have a flexible work schedule, I set all work reminders to the previous workday (24 hours during the week, the previous Friday if on Monday), so that I will remember to be in to work for a morning meeting.

Well, here’s another system I have: when I’m done with, say, a jar of vitamins in the bathroom, I turn it upside down and put it on the shelf in front of me. This is my signal to get more.

Well, imagine my surprise the other night when, in low light, I find that my toothpaste (Mentadent–it has its own little stand) is upside-down! How odd… And later I see the kleenex on the toilet is upside-down. How odd… [Warning: I’m kinda slow.] Sunday morning I hear an odd noise in the bathroom, and see my little piggy bank is upside down; Josh says he’s playing with it. That morning while getting ready, I realize that EVERYTHING on my bathroom counter that doesn’t have an impossibly high center of gravity when turned upside-down is flipped! Yes, Josh has been surreptitiously flipping everything in my bathroom. I laughed and laughed–first at his thinking to do that, second at how long it took me to clue in. And I’m thinking about the time I’ll be at his house alone, and will flip everything in his fridge, kitchen cabinets, bathrooms, etc…

Josh doesn’t “waste time” on the internet, so he’ll never read this. So please don’t tell him.