Friday, August 19, 2005

Project Creep

I'm developing a Theory of Project Creep: the nominal part of the project takes less than half of your project time. That is, whatever you call the project (Refinishing The Hardwoods In The Bedroom, in this instance), the necessary parts of the project that aren't actually refinishing take at least as long as the refinishing itself. In this case, the subprojects include Removing Everything From The Bedroom, and Removing The Carpet. In a few weeks, I'm putting vinyl siding on the dormer upstairs. The actual project, siding, is a tiny fraction of the entire project. More on that when it happens.

It's an important law of surprise home projects: if your spouse comes home from a trip and finds the house exactly as she left it, that's normal; if she comes home and finds a major project done, that's great; if she comes home and can't get in the bathroom because all the bedroom furniture is piled in the hall, and she has to sleep on the couch because she still can't walk on the bedroom floor, that's BAD. So once you cross the point of no return, you've got a lot of incentive to finish the project at all costs. I sanded until 2:30am Wednesday night, and I woke up every three hours on Thursday night to sand and recoat the finish so it would be dry in time for me to get the furniture in before I picked Laura up at the airport. She loved the floor, though!

I also learned something about projects: make use of the hardware store's return policy. It's a lesson I've been exposed to before, and life keeps smacking me with it until it will eventually sink in. I sanded the floor with my little random-orbital sander, which works great, because I didn't want to hassle with renting a big sander for such a small floor area. What I should've done is buy sandpaper in bulk and return what I didn't use. What I did was buy exactly as much as I thought I needed, and I ended up running short. At midnight.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

wee bits of job stress

I had a moment of urban comedy in the grocery store parking lot today. A guy was standing next to his car, yelling into the window crack for the woman inside to stop fooling around and let him in the damn car, and she was yelling back that she wouldn't until he swallowed his pride and said he's sorry. I found myself wishing I knew the story behind the scene. I made up a few scenarios; feel free to make up a few of your own.

I am experiencing a bit of work-related stress. We're changing our audio system for one that sounds better, and now it's installed, and it doesn't sound better. We hired a guy to spec the system and provide the hardware. He came well recommended, and he's apparently one of the more experienced and expert sound guys anywhere. What he shouldn't be doing is running a business. His poor planning and organization cost us two days, which is a lot on a five-day project. He was supposed to show up with the gear and rigging hardware and show us where to place the speakers on Tuesday at 10. He ended up arriving around 2pm. And, he brought us 160' of speaker wire, when what we needed was three runs of 220'. He was going to bring the wire Thursday, and he never showed up. I called, and he said he'd be there first thing Friday. Friday at 10am I called, and he was still in Lafayette, but was leaving. I called back around noon, and he was still in Lafayette; apparently, when he said he was leaving, he meant leaving the shop to pick up the wire. He called back around 12:30 to say that he couldn't actually find the right wire, but he was bringing plenty of wire that was too small. At this point, I told him not to bother coming, that I'd buy my own damn wire. We ended up finishing the wiring around 6:30 Friday, instead of Wednesday afternoon (which is when the wiring would've been done if we would've had it on Tuesday as planned). The original plan was to have the hardware installed, wired, and patched by Thursday so we could have all day Friday to make it sound good. So, the part we skipped was the "making it sound good."

We also had a few little problems with the gear. I suspect that what we got was whatever he had lying around the shop. One of the four amps we got wasn't what he specified originally, and the other three were listed as discontinued on the manufacturer’s website. And, the signal processing is nice, but not easy to use. But at least the speakers are good.

Friday, August 12, 2005

My birthday!

My birthday, yay! I'm feeling very low-key about my birthday this year. I'm not sure why, but it just doesn't seem that special. Laura's been spoiling me rotten--she made my favorite dinner, and made me an apple pie, and she's making me a scarf. The scarf is great; I'll post a picture when it's finished. It's the first thing she's ever knitted for me, and I'm honored by the gift. But, all that aside, this birthday seems like a bit of a non-holiday.

Of course, that could be because I worked eleven hours today. We're replacing the sound system at the Artsgarden this week, and it could be going better. The speakers arrived last week, and Chris painted them. But getting them hung and set is another issue. More on that later; it's my birthday, and I'm not worrying about it.

Monday, August 01, 2005


I just started book two of the Janet Evanovich Stephanie Plum mysteries (Two For The Dough). I had what I thought was a deep insight into the nature of serial mystery novels: they're about 25% mystery, 75% travelogue. Sure, there's always a crime to solve. But mostly, so far, the Stephanie Plum novels are about life in Trenton, New Jersey. Similarly, the more recent Jim Qwilleran novels (the Cat Who... books) are mostly about the life of the nouveau riche in a small town. The Matthew Scudder stories are stories about an alcoholic's life in New York City, who incidentally solves a few crimes. This isn't a criticism of serial mysteries, more of an observation about their nature.

And, in mentioning this to a few people, I found out that I'm probably the last person in this hemisphere to have noticed this. Oh, well.