Friday, June 30, 2006

And the Winner is.....

One week!

The appliances have been installed as of Wednesday night -- one week from the day of their appearance on our garage-step. The dishwasher was harder than the range, but then plumbing always involves a bit of voodoo and we had trouble finding fresh chicken blood. Regardless, all is well -- the dishes are clean, and the wok burner is hot.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

New Arrivals

Today, the new appliances we'd ordered arrived in our garage. Now, normal people would have had them installed, but we're not normal, so we paid to have them delivered, but my husband wants to install them. So, now what do we have sitting in the garage?

We have a new dishwasher. But instead of a regular dishwasher, we got dish drawers. This is basically two separate one-rack dishwashers sitting on top of one another. When your whole household is only two people, half a dishwasher is generally sufficient.

We also have a new stove. This is one of those fancy ones with a wok burner. Based on my family's history of living in Asia, I love to cook various Asian foods, and regular ranges just don't get hot enough for good stir-fry. Instead, with the current stove, I tend to end up with boiled food rather than stir-fried food. Most unsatisfying. But this should fix this. For my husband, the Baker, it also has a convection oven. I have never used one, and can't really envision what will be better about it, but my husband assures me the cookies will be cooked more evenly and the bread will rise better. I figure if I can have my fancy burner, he can have his fancy oven.

With the new stove, we had to get a new vent hood (the old one hadn't worked in years). It's pretty strong, and is likely to pull my hair off as I cook.

Anyone wanna make any bets on how long it will take to get these installed? One week? Two months? Longer?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Kitchen Improvements

The long-awaited kitchen remodel is finally ready to almost be underway (did I hedge enough there?). We tend to plan things like this a bit much, so it takes a lot longer than it does for normal people to get going on a remodel effort. Of course, normal people hire someone to do it for them. Or at least to supplement the work that they want to do themselves with work done by professionals. But no, not us.

See, my husband is pretty competent with mechanical things. He basically has a PhD in them, and his dad did woodworking as his career for most of his life. So, he's more than competent -- he's quite good, and this makes the work done by most professionals seem shoddy to him. True, he's only doing something once, and has a lot of motivation to do it the right way, but he's also not getting paid by the number of jobs he completes. It all comes back to that old adage -- you can pick two of the three: quality, speed, cheap. Since most people are concerned with "cheap", either quality or speed have to be compromised. And most contractors need the speed for their businesses to succeed. Now, I'm not saying that contractors do a poor job, just that my husband is such a perfectionist that he notices every little gap or nick or thing that just wasn't done the way he would have done them.

As an example, a couple of months ago we had French doors put in to replace the ailing back sliding glass door that had been there forever. We looked at lots of doors, and settled on an unfinished wooden set. We really wanted them to open outward into the back yard, which required fancy security hinges which were backordered and delayed multiple times, but finally arrived, and were installed as agreed. However, one side of the door hole wasn't completely plumb, so they lined everything up, and put the jamb over it. This completely hid the fact that there was a gap, but he wanted it to be shimmed, and he complained about it for weeks, even deciding to boycott the establishment where we got the doors. I've never worried the door wasn't solid, but I do think my husband wants to be sure it's hard for someone to bulldoze our house one day.

As a result, it's actually easier to let him do these things himself. It just means things take forever. So, when he decided he wants to build his own kitchen cabinets, I expressed the concern that we would be without a functional kitchen for a year or more. He agreed that was a valid concern. However, for his mental health, and for preservation of my ears from having to listen to the complaints about someone else's work, I have resigned myself to a long remodel effort. At the end, though, it should be seriously nice.

At this point, we have floor plans, and lots of drawings of various stages of cabinet design. We have new appliances ordered, and they are arriving this week. That will really force us to start making some serious progress.

Pictures may follow, if can remember to pull out the camera for various parts of the process.

This weekend, we went out and ordered a new dishwasher

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Loss of Detail Orientation

I was recently noticing that in the last few weeks I've had a lot of typos. First I had to correct them all (sort of a new 1984 policing group -- The Ministry of Blog Accuracy -- it feels very Orwellian to be changing history. Bwa Ha Ha!). Then I had to figure out why. I'm doing it at work, too, having to proofread all my emails because I don't get them typed up right to start with. All of this obviously makes one less productive in a given day. And I'm all about productivity, no, ruthless efficiency.

So why this decrease in the quality of my typing? Well, I don't know. But I guess it means I've been distracted and trying to do too much at once. Multi-tasking is great, but not if it means you don't get anything finished right. Accuracy is more important than speed, so today I will try to slow down and get back on the right track.

Monday, June 12, 2006

A Resolution Bites the Dust

Yesterday was the Danskin triathlon. My mom made her goal, shaving 10 minutes off her swim, and making it up three hills on the bike ride. My little sister improved her time by 30 minutes, and isn't quite as vehement about how she won't be doing the race next year. My other sister finished her first, and finished faster than mom, so she was happy.

I'm the only one that didn't make my goal. Now it's true I was expecting a pretty big improvement over my personal best, but it just comes down to the fact that I didn't train enough. For some people that would be a depressing realization, "I didn't make my goal, I must suck, and I should give up now." However, I'm a stubborn little freak, and this result just makes me want to fight harder, and work more, and make it a better result next time. And I will. 'Cause that's what I do.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Full, Loud House

Today, my family converges on my house in preparation for Danskin Triathlon weekend. As a family with a high female makeup, a women-only triathlon is just the thing for us. Here are the players:

My Mom: She's the root of the stubbornness that us kids exhibit. She finished the race last year out of sheer determination to do so. She laughs loud.

My Sister: A's the "crazy" sister. She's in the Navy, working on a degree in nuclear engineering which will allow her to be an officer. We should all be worried. She talks loud.

My Little Sister: C's the one that still lives at home. She'll be a junior in high school next year, and she keeps the rest of us young. Or makes us feel old and loud.

Me: I'm not quiet either.

So, when the four of us are together (and we try to limit the frequency of this occurrence), we are a generally loud group. My husband is considering getting a hotel room for the weekend.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

We Made It!

Today is our eighth anniversary. Yes, it's 06/06/06, so at least it's not our sixth anniversary. Anyway, we made it. The seventh year was tough with some stressful stuff going on. But we've come a long way since where we were a year ago. And it feels good to know we've continued to stick by each other through everything so far. It seems like a positive slope that we're on now. Congratulations to us. :)

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Really Menial Jobs

One of my favorite mental pasttimes is to think about ways to automate certain repetitive tasks, I suppose that's why I'm in the industry I'm in, doing the job I'm doing -- automating the transfer of data all over the place. Not the most exciting stuff to write about, exciting to do, but not really good material, so to speak. So, I think about other, more mechanical, automations.

It all started with my favorite Mister Rogers Neighborhood episode as a child. It was the one where he showed us how they make crayons. I was completely enthralled with the way the wax is poured into a mold and then a machine wraps the paper around them and puts them in a box. It was impressive to me that this process could be done completely without human intervention. I also assumed there was a time when this wasn't such an automated process, and people had to do things like stick crayons in a box for a living.

My grandpa worked on the factory line at Ford all his life. After a while, it became clear that he needed to learn automation skills, or he would be phased out. So, he become a robotics tech and learned everything he needed to fix the machines that built the cars, rather than building the cars themselves. So, I come by my interest naturally.

There are a lot of things I buy that I can see how it would have been produced through an automated process of some kind. There is one I was thinking of this morning that I couldn't come up with anything for, however, so I was hoping you could help me. As a kid, I loved the Strawberry Shortcake dolls, and I had most of them. I can see how the little plastic dolls could be made automatically, and how their little clothes could, in many cases be made without human intervention. But how do you get their little clothes on the little dolls? Same goes for Barbies or any other dolls. I hate to think there are people (or even worse, children) whose job it is to put clothes on dolls all day long.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Officially Into Summer

Memorial Day weekend has always been my official switchover weekend into summertime. Now, technically, it doesn't really matter, since I will still go to work everyday and I don't have children to remind me how wonderful it is to be out of school. However, there are a couple of things that really make summer nice around here, so it's nice to have started summer now.

We love to go to the lake on the weekends in the summer. We get out there early, have a nice swim around, maybe stay long enough to eat lunch and head out before the crowds get too busy. My husband may take these things to an extreme, but I agree that too many people at the lake makes for not as nice a time. Regardless, it's nice to be in the water and out in the sun.

Summer also means we do a lot more projects around the house, spend a lot more money on things we've been meaning to get/do, and have a generally higher amount of activity going on.

This Memorial Day, we celebrated with the Capital of Texas Triathlon. This was the first time I've done this race, and it is now my favorite event. Looking at the route map with the multiple loops of the course, it looked to be boring. But, Austin being the city that it is, tons of people came out to cheer us all on, and that made it more fun than any race I've done before. It helps that I beat my time on my last Olympic-distance race by more than 30 minutes, but that's not the whole story. It was just fun, and I worked hard, and I felt good afterward. And that, my friends, is the point of doing a race where you know there's no chance you'll win.