Friday, August 7, 2009

Randy vs. The Sprinkler System

I have lately been working hard on home improvements. We had been planning to do three important projects this summer: Install a sprinkling system, so that Karen would not have to continue devoting two hours every day to watering our lawn; building a shed, so that we can make more room in the garage—with some of Heidi’s stuff in there besides our clutter, we can barely get through to tools and the freezer; and build another section or two of fence to close in our back yard.

The plan was a good one, but it depended on money coming to me from the companies I work for apart from my usual weekly compensation. One third of my salary is paid to me in three installments throughout the year. The first comes after our first insurance captive’s spring safety audit, with the second coming after an autumn audit and the last coming at the end of the year. However, this year the first audit did not happen until half way through June and the total of the check was diminished by taxes and other withholding allotted for a week-long pay period. The result was a much smaller chunk of money than we thought we would have to work with for the summer. Nonetheless, we reevaluated our resources and chose our priorities.

We decided the sprinklers needed to be done as soon as possible, so we tackled it first. To be honest, I made several mistakes in the process of installing the system. To save money, we chose to do it ourselves. This was not in itself a mistake, but it would have been better if I had had better oversight by someone with experience. There were several brethren from our ward that assured me they would be glad to help and share their experience and knowledge, but they were not readily available for various reasons to join in when our window of opportunity arrived. We had gotten an estimate from one supplier—they required a map of out property so that they could figure the layout for us—but it was a little more than we wanted to spend. So, we went to another supplier to compare. They also needed a map, so asked Karen—she had produced the first one for the other company and had spent a good bit of time getting it very detailed—to do another map. This time around, Karen spent much less time on the map and it was not as detailed as we probably needed it to be—it did not show the front porch, and some of the dimensions were rough estimates. The price was better for the second estimate, so we chose it.

I knew I did not want to hand dig the trenches, because our dirt is extremely rocky, so I went to Home Depot and rented a trencher. I made the mistake of getting a smaller one, which broke down about ten minutes into the trenching process. I took the small trencher back and got a bigger “Ditch Witch” and started in again. The Witch was a better choice and dug well, but I did not remember the directions for getting the machine to operate with both-wheel drive. So, I spent the whole time struggling with the help of my sons, Tyler and Dylan, pushing and pulling on one side or the other to keep it on track—the two wheel drive would have pretty much done that for us.

Even with the trencher, there was plenty of hand digging trenches where the machine would not go and excavating under sidewalks for me to do. A couple of days into the project, some of the brethren from the ward eventually arrived to help out. They were very helpful in digging some of the last bits and showing me how to get under the sidewalks. They also got me started on putting the pipe together. The pipe went together pretty well, but because the map was not as accurate as it could have been, it became apparent that the count of the different sized elbows and other fittings we needed was not correct. Also there were several items that did not make it out with the delivered materials. So, I had to make several trips to get what I needed, often when the supplier had closed for the day, making have to go to Home Depot instead.

After getting all the system to the point of testing, a couple of times I would turn the system on and find a part that I had forgotten to glue. Luckily I had not started filling dirt back in yet. The project ended up taking us over two weeks. Then there was the problem of programming the timer. It has taken several attempts and several days to get it to come on when we want it to and to adjust the sprinkler heads to get the best coverage. We also had to go looking for some extra dirt to fill in some places. You would think that with all of the pipe and boxes we have placed in the ground that we would have plenty of dirt left over, but you would be wrong to think that.

At any rate, the sprinkler system is done and I am satisfied that I could do the job again and do it perfectly. But I really do not want to do it again any time soon.

The second thing on the priority list was the shed. We had enough money earmarked for the shed I wanted to do and a little left over to buy a new computer for Karen—the home PC she has been using for many years is on its last legs—so, we went out this week and purchased a shed kit and a new laptop. I have built pretty nice sheds from scratch in the past, but the location we had picked out for the shed would put it right up next to our neighbor’s fence and would preclude my having enough room to side and finish it properly. So, I decided I would buy an 8’X 10’ vinyl structure from Sam’s Wholesale that I could put together pre-finished. I plan to get on that shed project tomorrow. Wish me luck.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

One of My Dreams May Be Coming True!

I have been encouraged lately by videos shot of the response of some people attending various town hall meetings set by the Obama administration to sell his “economic” and “health care reform” plans. Apparently most people aren’t buying the crazy plans. The democrat congressmen and cabinet representatives are being blasted by unbelieving electorate. I say, “Wahoo!” Maybe the majority of the American people are begging to wake up and take an interest in what their government is doing.

I am also encouraged by the outrageous actions by some of the stupid actions of some of the more arrogant and clueless democrats in office and the unflattering media coverage their stupidity is getting. House Judiciary Chairman, John Conyers (D-Mich.) speaking recently at a National Press Club luncheon, commented on his fellow House members on the right side of the aisle wanting to read the health care bill: “I love these members, they get up and say, ‘Read the bill.’ What good is reading the bill if it’s a thousand pages and you don’t have two days and two lawyers to find out what it means after you read the bill?” Then there is Barbara Boxer, US Senator (D-Cal.) trying to speak down to Harry Alford, CEO of the Black Chamber of Commerce, in a climate change hearing in a smug, racist manor in a climate change hearing, and having Alford ream her out for her efforts. And then there is Boxer insisting that a military officer refer to her as “Senator” rather than “Ma’am”—I think that is the customary polite salutation by the military towards women—because she “worked so hard to get that title”. And then again, there is Boxer claiming that people protesting Obamacare are obviously fakes because they were “too well dressed”. She knows this because when she went to Florida to wade into the 2000 Florida Presidential recount farce in behalf of Al Gore, the people calling for her to go back to California were dressed similarly. Then, she goes on to make the brilliant political observation that these people are just trying to “hurt our President and it’s to change the Congress.” Whoa, SENATOR Boxer, do you really think so? I certainly hope it is working. And the there is one of my favorite democrat mental giants, the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi (D-Cal), who responded to a reporter asking if she thought there was agenuine grass-roots opposition to Obamacare by saying "I think they're Astroturf... You be the judge. They're carrying swastikas and symbols like that to a town meeting on healthcare." Let us face the facts: Pelosi is NUTS! I am pretty sure that if there had actually been someone sporting "swastikas and symbols like that" they would have made to the nightly news.

There are literally too many examples of ignorance, stupidity, arrogance and out-and-out duplicitous and criminal behavior among some of the high profile democrats to catalogue in a short blog, but I encourage anyone reading this to search out comments and actions on the internet by the likes of Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer, John Conyers, Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, Charlie Rangel, etc. and then find a good explanation for why these people keep getting elected. Granted, there are plenty of phonies on the Republican side as well, as can be attested to by the likes of Alaska’s Ted Stevens, Idaho’s Larry Craig, South Carolina’s Mark Sanford, etc. but they are now political toast and we can say “Good Riddance!” However, the former group of political stooges and malfeasants need to go.

Clearly, it appears that the democrats have been feeling pretty feisty now that they are in control and they do not realize that they have only gotten there because of two things: Firstly, because the conservative voters were fed up with the republicans trying to be democrat-lites and they sat on their hands—I am unable to find much fault with them on that count; and secondly, because the moderate voters and independents, who generally do not pay attention to politics at all until about a week before an election and depend on the left-leaning mainstream media for their news and information, do not realize who the democrats really are politically, and how genuinely stupid, inept and dishonest they can be. If democrats continue to expose themselves as the silly and corrupt leftists that most of their leadership truly are, and the news media do not cover for them, and a good conservative leader takes control of the republican party or a new conservative party, the democrats’ control of our government will be short-lived and there will be less damage done.

If the scenario I have described actually happens—the majority of Americans actually paying attention and voting as an informed and self-educated electorate—one of fondest dreams will have come true.