Friday, May 23, 2014

From the Office to the Parlor

Sometimes patience is a virtual or at least a godsend:  when we moved the bookcase the other day, I found this outlet along with the cable feed.  The previous owner had done a decent job of running cable throughout the house for his DirecTV and when we got cable, we simply piggybacked on that.  I had forgotten all about this cable, along with the power outlet that obviously has been hidden behind the bookcase for over a year.

I was wondering what to do about moving the computer down from the office to the parlor and how I would reconfigure the Internet through the house.  While this doesn't necessarily solve everything, it gives me more options. Right now the Internet originates in our attic and bring it down via wifi repeaters and a LAN cable from the attic to the office.  If I can switch it to our parlor and run LAN cables through the basement, it will be much easier to hardwire future devices like security cameras and smart tvs.






"It's always something,"  -- Roseanne Roseannadanna, SNL Character played by Gilda Radner







When it was Mysteries of Life 1.0:  On an older blog I wrote about a concept in life that I noticed. 

It seems like there is always something big on your radar.  Maybe you're a student and finals are coming up.  Or you have a deadline at work on some huge project.  Or in your personal life you wonder how you're gonna tell someone that you have to break up.  Whatever it is, it sometimes seems like there's something that is taking up all your attention, energy and resources. 
I called this the Crisis Of the Week, or COW for short.  It may not be earth shattering or life threatening, but it generally consumes 80% of your attention.  It may not even be a week's length of time.  I guess there could be the Crisis of the Day or COD.  Or it could be longer, like  Crisis of the Month.  I guess there could even be a Crisis of the Year or COY.  Lot's of possibilities.
Then the thing passes.  Finals come and go.  The deadline arrives and then ends.  The breakup occurs.  Maybe things were a disaster or maybe they weren't as bad as they seemed.  Whatever happened, the next thing you know, there's a new new thing on your radar to replace the thing that passed.
But if you think about it carefully, there's a small slice of time in-between when nothing is really happening.  We may not notice it because we're still thinking "I can't believe [whatever was stressing us out] is over, but it's there. 
Right now I would really like to be in that in-between phase.  Unfortunately, there are things afoot that we are dealing with that prevent me from simply exhaling and enjoying the summer weather that seems to have finally arrived.   For more details on those issues, click here.  Otherwise, enjoy the nice weather.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Look at our new Roll Top Desk

Since I've known for a time that the office would eventually be converted into a nursery and later a kids room, I have been on the hunt for a Roll Top Desk.  We wanted something that would leave a small footprint in what I call the parlor section of our living room because that is really the only place left that would make sense for my office space.  I don't need much since I do most of my work on a laptop but a place for my monitor and desktop to live is definitely a nice to have.

The next thing to do -- after cleaning up the mess that re-arranging the parlor to fit this desk caused -- is cut some holes in the back so I can run the needed cables through it.  I'm going to hold off for a short time though and let it occur more organically.  While I would not normally advocate defiling an antique just for the sake of modern convenience, I don't think this is a valuable rare antique worth any more than the $80 I paid for it off Craigslist.


On another note, it kinda of concerns me that we are placing furniture in a very similar fashion to how the previous owners placed theirs.  I suppose it is because the overall layout of the house doesn't allow for too much flexibility.  There is only one good spot for the treadmill in the basement, there is only one good place to put the TV in the living room, etc.


I did write a quick piece about this on ChicagoNow so you go there and give me a pageclick, a like and a share if you are so inclined.  After all, I now have babies to feed.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Backyard is finally ready for Prime Time

So I had mentioned that we were having some work done on the yard and I also mentioned that I was hesitant to write about it because it would jinx it.  Well it almost did because it took a lot longer to happen than I would have liked but our backyard is finally pretty.
Before and never again


Or at least the useless ugly hole has been replaced by a mini Field of Dreams park as we are calling it.

I found Taylor Made Landscape Designs on Everyblock.org when someone posted that they were looking for a landscaper.  This lady/company got good reviews on Yelp so I sent her an email back at the end of February.  I don't recall the specifics but we made an appointment for early March because the snow was melting although we ended up with a snowfall just days before our March 8 appointment (based on emails).  Also, even if the snow hadn't fallen, I was piling all the snow into our Pool Pit because I needed it out of my driveway.  I did send her a picture of what our yard looks like sans snow so she had a good idea of what was needed.

Initially, we didn't know what we could or should do with the space.  So I told her that my only requirements were that we 1) don't do anything that would prohibit us from doing something else at a later date, and by that I mean having to tear anything out that we put in because obviously you can do anything you want but it costs money; and 2) our backyard must not be Under Constructions all summer.

She came over and had a look.  She then contacted me when the snow was melted to to come over again to have a better look.  I told her that I WFH on Fridays but otherwise since our gate isn't locked she could come by whenever it worked for her.  I didn't hear back from her so after a week I did the pretend I never sent the first email thing and replied to her email: "how's this weekend work?"

She came over and luckily the snow was completely gone.  We went over options and she said she'd get back to us with a quote.  Here's where it gets interesting. She sent me the quote and it was not only very reasonable but much less than I expected.  I asked how soon could she start and how long would it take?  No reply.  This was just before Easter.  So I did pretend I never sent the first email thing again and replied to her email asking what do we need to do to proceed.

She said send her a check for half the quote and we would get scheduled two weeks out.  I was a little annoyed because while I didn't expect her to get started Easter Weekend, I did think that she could start the week afterward and I'd have nice lawn in time for Polish Constitution Day.

I was also a little reluctant to send a check for work that wouldn't be started for two weeks but Nightingale pointed out that if she was trying to scam us for such a minor amount there were better ways to do it.  So we went the check out -- turns out she lives less than 1 mile east of us in Old Irving Park --  and got an email from her that the check arrived and she'd be in touch to schedule the project.

Now I wasn't sure what was supposed to happen next but I sort of figured I'd get a call or an email saying how does X day sound for starting the project?  You know, in case it was a bad day to start.  Instead, I get an email from her saying that Weather permitting, Fredrico would arrive Saturday (May 3) to start my landscaping project.  Coincidentally we had invited our Polish Peeps over to see our home and enjoy a traditional Polish fest of Middle Eastern Food.  I figured if they did show up to start the work, the yard would be unusable which is a shame because our friends were bringing their kids, but at least it would look like we were doing something about that awful hole in the ground. 

As it turns out, we didn't have anything to worry about because Fredrico didn't show up.  I sent an email asking what happened and was told something to the affect that because the weather was so bad that week, Fredrico was running behind on projects. Then I get an auto-email from Taylor Made Designs saying they would show up on Thursday.  No problem but then it got moved to Wednesday...so for my Birthday I got a nice yard.

Somewhere in that last volley of emails, I mentioned to Maureen that our neighbor was doing some work on his house that might impact the work we had planned for the north side of our house and perhaps we should put that off but could still do the parkway piece.  She emailed back that she didn't recall us discussing the parkway piece.  I cut and pasted her language from the proposal showing that indeed there would be work done on the parkway.  She wrote back and apologized for not reading that line and at least owned up to it. 

I'm not writing this post as a bitch session about Taylor Made Landscape Designs, that's what Yelp and Angie's List are for.  This is strictly to chronicle how a relatively simple thing like paying someone to do work that we don't want to do can still become more complicated than it should be. 

Somehow there was some "confusion" regarding our specifications that we discussed during all those visits.  Luckily her written proposal spelled out some of them so we have that but there were also subtle things which were discussed in person but not explicitly put in the proposal.  Why didn't we point it out when before we signed and sent the check?  Well it falls under the umbrella of "would a customer really know you had to spell that part out?"


There's still a few things that need to be completed in the front and side of the house and we've had to send some more follow up emails to Maureen.  My guess is that Maureen has several projects going on at once and confuses some of the specifications for similar houses. 

The funny thing is that while I was the one initially wary of Maureen's dropping communication and sending the check before the work began, Nightingale is now more upset because things aren't completed as promised.  Her upset-ness comes from a terrible combination of pregnancy hormones and the Instant Gratification Gene that runs strongly in her family.  I told her that if there is a problem we contact Maureen and we get it straightened out but for Fucks Sake bitching about it isn't going to magically make mulch appear on our lawn.  Writing that on my blog will mean I get to sleep on our new lawn, luckily warmer weather is approaching.

It would have helped if Maureen were onsite when this occurred and we were home to guide the process instead of fixing it retroactively but what's done is done.  So now we have to wait for Fredrico to show up again and finish the job, hopefully to our satisfaction.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

45th Birthday and we are having twins!

I'm always a bit hesitant to share my age these days because there is this thing in Corporate America as well as the just plain old Real Life known as Ageism.  People can and will hold your age against you for promotions, jobs and whatever.  I'm reluctant to list it here because I'm not exactly running under NSA level security -- someone could easily figure out my RL idenity if they chose to.  On the other hand, meh.

So we finally announced on my Facebook feed that we are with children!  That’s right, Nightingale is carrying twins in her womb and I am going to be a father in October.  or more likely September since twins tend to come early.  So two quick answers to some already developing Frequently Asked Questions:  1) yes we are going to find out the genders and 2) no we have not settled on names yet, because well #1.  However, the one name that is off the table is my real first name.  We don't need another Icarus. 

Initially I had plans to announce the pending arrive here, then on my ChicagoNow blog, then on my Facebook pages, etc.  Luckily time and other more important things prevented that egotistical market campaign from ever seeing the light of day.  Instead I just posted the photo on the right and 99.5% of my friends figured it out.  


I have mixed feelings about the responses I've got on Facebook.  I'm thrilled at the outpouring of love, support and well wishes from friends and family.  I am surprised though that some people who generally don't say boo about anything I do on Facebook have come out of the woodwork on this one to chime in.  It's like "okay, you reproduced that got my attention."  I know it's my ego saying 'wait I'm fucking awesome, everything I do is noteworthy."

So moving on...what that means now is I have to convert the office into a nursery/kids room.  Nightingale thinks each kid should get their own room, especially if we have one of each, and I'm like absolutely.  As soon as they are old enough to rent their own apartment they can get a room to their selves. 

Luckily I am prepared for this.  Sort of.  I finally found an acceptable Roll Top Desk on Craig's List that will do nicely as a temporary office desk in the "parlor" portion of our living room.  When I say temporary, I mean until the damn thing falls apart or is replaced by a more magnificent looking antique of the same type.  This one I got for $80 (including a old school wooden office chair) so I won't feel bad about cutting any holes in the back for computer cables.

Update:  I wrote about this on ChicagoNow too but with a slightly different angle.