Wednesday, August 31, 2005

More Remodeling (Ugh) and Katrina

It does't seem to end, does it? I started out the day by painting the two smaller bedrooms. I have to admit: they do look better painted. Cathy then got a call from Ashley, who is avilable to help tomorrow. So, instead of painting the master bedroom, I finished priming the living room and the hallway. That'll give Ashley two large rooms, the hallway and the dining room to paint. And there's still closets, too...

All the time I was painting, I listened to something. I listened to my Hebrew class from Monday once, then I listened to Skillet's worship album (a real steal at $10). I tried listening to KWVE's sermons for a while, but I turned it off after 20 minutes when a pastor started quoting Greek. Then I recited the Hebrew alphabet for a while.

I am so glad that Ashley can come help. I don't know how much she'll get done, but everything will help. Whew... I looking forward to going to the office tomorrow, just to relax a little!

I read about the devastation that hurrican Katrina is wreaking... I hope my brother Ted is doing O.K.... if you want to help, try Samaritan Purse or CRC World Relief or the Red Cross.

Hebrew "Vowels"

Hebrew Vowels are confusing, but I'm learning them anyway... I learned some Hebrew vowels today... our Hebrew grammar is using a five-vowel system instead of the three-vowel system my teacher prefers.

At first glance, 17 vowels sounds bad, but there's a pattern emerging for me. For example, all the "a" vowels have a horizonal line, either a Patach or a Qamet, while all the "e" vowels have two horizontal dots plus something, like the Tsere or the Seghol.

Yeah, it is about as complicated as it sounds, although it does begin to make sense after a few hours. Just chapter one had me scared with phrases like "Begadkephat". Fortunately, there are only 23 consonants and only six actual vowels with variations, from what I can tell.

Sigh... I'll have to know them all by Labor Day.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Hebrew Gibberish

I took my first Hebrew class last night... it turns out I missed the first class session, so I did pretty poorly on the alphabet quiz as I was quietly panicing in my chair.

I came home last night and started reading the first chapter (since I'm catching up, I'll need to read two chapters in the next two days). As I was preparing my supplies, I had the interesting experience of looking at Hebrew and thinking to myself, "This looks like gibberish to me. Yet, in two months, that bunch of squigglies will read 'man' and 'woman' to me."

The inability to recognize language is not something you can capture on film, thus it is a moment I am unable to preserve; what a shame. I don't know how long it will take me, but eventually I will be able to read this:

Monday, August 29, 2005

Event-Filled Sunday

Elder Jeff preached today out of the Book of Daniel; it was very good. After church, Cathy felt good enough that we went to the church potluck and had some excellent ribs and baked beans; there was plenty of other food, but that is what really stuck in my memory!

While we were at the potluck I mentioned needing to get home and paint. It turns out that Ashley likes to paint, and has some time on Tuesday! Cathy hired her on the spot as she has seen Ashley's room (and Cathy approves!).

So I spent the rest of the afternoon until 10 P.M. preparing the aparment for paint. There was still drywall to be repaired, and the gas pipe had to be finished before the drywall. So I finished the gas plumbing and tested for leaks; none, thank God! Cathy worked for about 15 minutes and showed me how to connect the drywall. The walls are now all patched, although some sanding and another layer will be necessary. I reapplied primer to the "dark" room, so hopefully that is sufficient.

While resting at home, Cathy did more reading, some puzzles, and took my job's entrance exam. Yes, my job has an entrance exam! I'll have to speak more on it when I get Cathy's results back. She is not applying for a job; rather, she is just curious about it as so many people are not making it past the first interview at my office.

Ugh... I'm tired, though. Gotta sleep...

Saturday, August 27, 2005

A Saturday of Remodeling

I spent the entire day preparing to paint. Our former tenant in apartment one was a smoker, so I am using oil-based primer to prepare the walls; it takes care of any smoke damage from over the years.

I had threaded the black iron pipe for the gas line this morning, but the rest will have to wait until I finish the drywall. Cathy felt well enough to help out and patch a little dryway, and even a little paint. But she got worn out very quickly and had to go back to the house. When I came home about three hours later, she had just woken up. She is unhappy about being unable to help out more, but I feel confident that God will work things out.

What is strange about painting is that it is not difficult work, or at least it is not difficult when done in stages. However, painting is time-consuming. Since I have to wait two hours between the primer and the paint, it would take me almost five hours to do a single room. I decided to apply primer to all three bedrooms today; tomorrow I plan on applying paint to the three bedrooms.

Ugh! One of the bedrooms was painted dark grey! I'm not sure one coat of primer is going to take care of that! We'll have to see; perhaps someone's teenager went through a gothic phase?

Cathy seems worn out and gets too hot easily; other than that, I think she is doing O.K. We're going to try going to chruch tomorrow, so we'll see how she holds up. As for me, I'm so glad to be off my feet that I am very, very content.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Cathy's Treatment and Disability

Cathy's treatment is affecting her health poorly. She get nauseated easily, gets dizzy frequently, has weird pains, tires easily and generally feeling poorly.

She gives herself a shot of peginterferon alpha-2b on Fridays, and every morning and evening she takes a pill of ribavirin with food. After her shot kicks in, she gets feverish and feel sick. It wears off, but tends to get worse after she takes on the pills. So, she feel sick all weekend and feel poor all week.

Cathy has been unable to drive for most of this last week. After staying home for two days, she decided to look into going on disability. That process is now almost completed, and Cathy has been staying home all of this week. Financially, we'll be able to float this for a while. For the first month or so, we won't really feel the decrease in our income.

Surprisingly, Cathy has not been bored out of her skull from staying home. I think she feels too cruddy to be bored. Fortunately, we purchased a computer jigsaw program a couple of weeks ago. Cathy can do jigsaws for hours on end; it will keep her from going mad staying home! The cute cats help calm Cathy's nerves, too.

This is a difficult time for her. I'm holding up O.K., I believe.

We'll keep you updated. I've been rather busy with the changes around the house, so my posts are not the amusing tidbits I had become accustomed to posting. I'll try to rekindle the spark!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Cute Cat and Dashing Dog

Here's a photo of Fanny Mae looking down her paw at me, and one of Oliver on his new ottoman and bed. Oliver likes to lay on the furniture, so I started putting his bed on the couch. Then Cathy saw this brown ottoman at Ikea, and we just had to purchase it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Hmm... My Neighbor Washed My Car

I did my morning routine today and went to get in my car at 6:30 A.M. Somthing seemed strange, different... then I realized that my back windows were closed, and I did not close them (I have a hatchback, so you can close them from the outside).

Even weirder was that I could see really well once I got in the car... then I realized that my neighbor washed my car! Is that a riot, or what?

Monday, August 22, 2005

Argh! May God give me grace...

I'm blogging this from the registration line. I'm in a catch 22... I cannot use this computer to register because it says I have a registrar hold. I stood in line for 30 minutes to get my hold removed, and the registrar could not figure out why I have a lock. So, they supposedly removed it and then sent me to stand in another 45 minute line. That person then sent me back to the same computer lab to register and, you guessed it, I cannot register because I have a registar hold.

Now, I am waiting, for what I do not know. See below for If I had a USB port to use I would upload a photo of the line I was standing in. It was like Disnelyland, but without the fun ride at the end! May God give me grace...

Update: 2:46 PM - A nice tech named Megan came up and logged in with her ID and removed the hold. Now, when I try to add a class, I just get a SQL database error instead! Oh joy, oh rapture, oh bliss! They called the same tech back, so we'll see what happens next!

Update: 3:35 PM - this is an audio post - click to play - Basically, the registrar screwed up. But we're OK now; I think I got the classes I need.

Keep Up: Our Past Week

This last week, Cathy and I have been trying to remodel apartment one in our triplex. We also made an offer on the triplex across the way (we're gluttons for punishment).

Cathy's Health
We haven't made much headway on the remodeling, though, as Cathy's Hepatitis shot makes her nausiated and gives her a low-grade fever for several days. It is worst for the first 36 hours after the shot, and the effect slowly tapers off by the end of morning of the third day. Since Cathy give herself the shot on Friday, she is usually better by the end of Monday.

Anyway, the apartment has needed a lot of work. As of now, the ceiling has been painted (some touch-up needed), the walls are spackled and ready for priming, and the floors are 1/2 sealed. The good thing is that the pet and smoke damage has been removed. I've moved the outlets and and an extension for the refrigerator. Over the course of this next week, Cathy & I will primer a room and paint it, probably one room a day. We will also finish patching the drywall, sanding, patching, sanding over the next few days. It is a LOT of work... Like doing a fixer-upper in a short period of time.

(Probable) New Job
My manager is a very good man and I have enjoyed working for him for the last eight years. He was out on vacation this past week, so I haven't had the time to sit down and discuss the offer I received. He is aware of the offer, though, and I plan to speak with him this week about it. It is probably I will be starting the new job next month.

Back to School
Tomorrow, I register for classes. I am hoping to take a class in Hebrew and a class in preaching. There are two slots for both, so I am hoping to get in on at least on of those classes. We'll have to see!

Sunday, August 14, 2005

What's New with the Joneses

It has been almost two weeks since I last posted... that's a record of some kind.

Let's see... on the health front things are moving right along. I went to the Vascetomy Class at Kaiser Permanente, where I learned that a vascetomy is an elective procedure that nobody can make me do. I also learned that a vascetomy is considered permanent, and nobody can make me get one. Also, reversing a vascetomy has a 50/50 chance, and I should remember that it is my choice to not get a vascetomy if I don't want to. And in case I didn't know, Kaiser wanted to let me know that a vascetomy is an elective procedure, and I don't have to get one; they really wanted to drive that point home!

Cathy finally got her appointment with the doctor to review her biopsy results. Since there is very little scarring, treatment is optional. Still, since Cathy hasn't had the Hep C for longer than two years, having scarring may mean that the virus is rather agressive. Cathy elected to do the treatment, and the doctor started her treatment this Friday! We'll know in three months if the treatment works. Boy, KP does not waste any time, huh?

The shots and pills are making Cathy feel sick and she is experiencing flu-like symptoms. Cathy ran a fever Friday through today for a few hours after each dose she took. The fever would wear off, but the next dose would give her a fever again. Also, the medication affects her senses; things are not tasting as good, smells are stronger (and less pleasant), and Cathy is having trouble hearing me speak. It may be a long three months for her...

We also got our DSL service activated on the 11th. So, I'm online at home now, too. I'll probably leave the laptop running to stay signed in to Yahoo! Messenger whenever I'm available. It gives my friends like Ted more chances to stay in touch. I also discovered LaunchCAST, but I just began using it, so I'll say more when I save something to say.

Classes start in two weeks (I'm hoping to take Hebrew), so I have to finish remodeling quickly! While my lovely wife lay in bed with her cure-induced fever, my cousin Michael came to help me with some remodeling. We filled his Ford Pickup (is there another truck?) with two loads of remodeling trash and took them to the Orange County landfill... what an experience!

On a final note... it seems like everybody I know is getting a new job. Congrats to Micah on the UPS job; I can already picture him in brown shorts! My counsin Michael goes full time in industrial maintenance starting September 1st, my friend Ray is getting a job at the city of Cypress, and my friend Steve Van Zwienen is starting at Lowes. Even I got a offered another job... which I have to seriously consider. I cannot say much more except that I really love my job, and it'd be difficult to imagine not working primarily in I.T. I've got a week to respond to the offer... please consider that a prayer request.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Slab Leak VIII - Conclusion

I replaced several angle stops in the apartment that the plumbers indicated were trouble. That fixed the problem, and the water main has been on for days so I am very confident there is no slab leak.

The restoration company picked up their equipment on Friday 08/05/2005 and I was supposed to hear from Allied. I had to call and follow up, but last week I finally got the claim adjuster to come out on Thursday. He took pictures, wrote up some notes and taped a statement from me. In about a week they'll be sending us a check. The repair from the damages are entirely up to us, though; I'll have to hire someone or do the repairs myself.

I've posted several more Slab Leak Parts (Parts I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII) on the dates the events actually transpired. I know, I'm back-posting... shame shame. But it seemed to make more sense than one long post to try to catch everybody up.

It appears I'll need to patch some holes, replace the carpet in aparment one (it's pretty old anyway) and paint. I finished tearing out the cabinets already, and today I had help clearing the carpeting and the trash (I'll post later on it). Next, paint and prep for a new rental! We already have two very interested familes; it must be the "pets welcome" thing.

Thanks for your prayers on this!

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Slab Leak, Part VII - Yeah!

Thursday, 08/04/2005, close to noon (see a pattern?) I met with the tech from L&D Plumbing, sent by our insurance company. He asked what the problem seemed to be; I told him I could have a slab leak. He proceeded to use similar equipment to Adee Plumbing inside each apartment and soon concluded there is no slab leak. He did suspect that apartment three's refrigerator might be leaking water, but that he could not determine if that was the case. After checking the pipes and the fridge, he's not convinced the fridge is leaking, but we don't have another suggestion at this point. He would update the insurance adjuster, who would contact me.

this is an audio post - click to play

I now felt confident there was no slab leak. I called Old Republic, who indicated our claim was denied because Gennaro's said we had multiple slab leaks caused by acidic water. Acidic water? They never saw running water, let alone tested any water, so how would they know? I complained, and they said I was welcome to send them a second opinion. If you were considering a home warranty company, stay far, far away from Old Republic.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Slab Leak, Part VI - I'm Confused!

Close to noon I got a call from Adee Plumbing. I met Danny the slab guy; he's been doing slabs for 13 years. He gave me a quote for re-piping ($15,000 !!!) and voiced his doubt that I had three slab leaks. He took out a very sophisticated-looking piece of equipment and placed it against the plumbing inside the house. Any leaks would be detectable from an angle stop inside the apartment. He turned on the main and tested all three apartments before concluding there is no leak! Danny found that the toilet in apartment one was stuck on, it would overflow and would simply not stop. He thinks that caused the problem in our office and bedroom, although it is a mystery how it could have got to Apatment Three.

That would be great news, of course! Except now I am confused... either Danny is right (no leak) or Franco is right (two or three leaks). Danny insists that you can detect one leak for sure, and you can speculate on the possibility of a second leak, but you cannot pinpoint two leaks at once, let alone three. Maybe Franco from Gennaro's Plumbing was trying to soak me for some serious money, I'm not sure...

I updated our insurance adjuster, who told me that his tech would be contacting me as well. I arranged for a Thursday visit from the insurance tech. I had not heard from Old Republic (seeing a pattern here...) so I called them. They indicated they would call Gennaro's Plumbing and get their report and call me back. Jack Stephen, the owner of Adee Plumbing, called me; he expected me to happy (no slab leak) instead of confused. I suppose he's right, but I was afraid to believe in such good news.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Slab Leak Part V - Can It Get Worse?

Tuesday, close to noon, Gennaro's Plumbing showed up. They had two tech, the senior tech being Franco, placing what looked like an oversize stethoscope on the ground. Apparently, you listen for leaks in the slab. The techs first asked where the water was coming from (Apt 3 living room and Apt 1 kitchen) and then listened around those areas. They concluded that there is a leak in our apartment, in the kitchen, under the tile floor. They also concluded that there is a second leak under the tile in the middle of apartment one's kitchen. Also, there was possibly a leak near the toilet in the full bath of apartment one. Two, possibly three slab leaks! All at once! That would also mean that Monday evening's adventure was from a previously unknown slab leak. It was disheartening...

Gennaro's suggested that it would be cheaper to re-pipe the triplex rather than fixing the slab, especially since slab leak detection was not exact and the repair could cause secondary damage. All the jack hammer action may cause other problems, they said. I asked them to give me a quote; I should get a call from Old Republic within 24 hours. That afternoon I called Adee Plumbing. I've dealt with their computer system before and had worked with the owner during an upgrade. He was very helpful and suggested that he send a tech out the next day. I updated our Insurance company, who indicate he was planning on sending his own tech out, as well.

this is an audio post - click to play

Tuesday evening, on Cathy's suggestion, we called our insurance company, who indicated that they felt that they should take care of the damage immediately. They would send a restoration company out that same evening. The restoration company cleans up the water damage and dries out the carpet (and if necessary, the walls). They were very efficient and were set up in about 30 minutes. Our restoration tech indicated that everything should be dry by Thursday evening, and that our carpets should be completely salvageable. There are these big dehydrators with tubes running to our sinks, and large blowers to aerate the carpet. We'll be like this for three days... ugh.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Slab Leak, Part IV

On Sunday, 07/31/2005, Cathy and I followed our morning routine, then went to 24-Hour Fitness and showered before grabbing breakfast (bagels and coffee) and heading off to church. It was a great message from an elder in our church; I was truly challenged to get more involved again and I felt refreshed. After the service I called Old Republic again (since they failed to call me back), and they indicated they had found a contractor who would be contacting me, most likely on Monday (same-day emergency not withstanding). We went to a church fellowship potluck, had a good time and then headed home early. Cathy was feeling worn out from all the upheaval, which is why we left early. After we got home, Cathy actually felt worse; I think the wet carpet was getting to her as she is sensitive to mold.

Monday morning, 08/01/2005 came and I called for an update from Old Republic. They had assigned the call to Gennaro's Plumbing; they'll contact the plumber and call me back. After hearing nothing by noon, I called again and got Gennaro's number and called them myself. I discovered that Old Republic had failed to tell Gennaro's that it was an emergency, so they had scheduled me for Tuesday! Unfortunately, it was too late to reschedule people. I called Old Republic to complain, and was told that I would get a call back within the hour (yeah, right...).

I continued to remodel apartment one by pulling out more kitchen cabinets. Even though the water was off, I shut off the angel stops for the kitchen sink. The floor was pretty gross; I'm not sure if that was from the accumulated dirt or if previous water damage had caused some discoloration. Our tenant in number three needed to take a bath, so I turned on the water for 30 minutes; Cathy took the opportunity to clean up a bit as well. Afterwards I found a new wet spot in our office... I found water on the floor in the kitchen of apartment one. This is a mystery, since I turned off the angle stops under the sink; I figure that one of the angle stops was faulty. We cleaned up the water and went to bed... ugh, could anything else go wrong?