December 2010

…and by “new”, I mean “was built or updated after electricity became a standard feature”… then you probably take certain things for granted. Like for instance, you come home with your arms full of groceries, you unlock the door, and you switch on a light that illuminates your path safely to the kitchen. You do not come home with your arms full of groceries, unlock the door, and trip over your cat and kick several pairs of shoes across the room because you can’t see anything until you reach a switch halfway across the house.

If you can’t tell, I get the latter experience. But this weekend, that all began to change.

See, the only switch by the front door was for the porch light.

But just like Ariel, I wanted more.

I wanted to be able to switch on a light inside my house the instant I walked in the door. Is that so much to ask? This would normally be a piece of cake to take care of, but my house is a double brick walled beauty. Brick is hard. Brick must be dealt with using big, powerful tools, like angle grinders and frightening looking drills.

Not my piddly $30 Harbor Fart drill. After considering our options (one being a low-voltage impulse relay system- basically running teeny wires discreetly next to the trim, that when switched, tell the bigger wires to turn on the lights) we (and I use the term “we” loosely) decided to dig a trench in the plaster and brick, lay some conduit in there, and thread solid wires through there (not romex, because romex is big and our conduit was only like an inch around or something).

is bigger than

Since I wanted four switches- one for the dining room chandelier, one for the living room, one for the porch light, and one for a switched exterior outlet (for Christmas lights, hence the switch, but also for other yard tools) there was just not enough space to run all that romex. I do not really understand how it works, but somehow, you can get away with using the little single wires rather than the triple-wired romex for each switch. I just nod my head.

Manly Stanley used a turquoise colored pencil to draw where we should dig the trench. He’s so artistic.

Then, we trenched that SOB. We trenched it good.

The jolt at :06 was when a large number of sparks flew onto my hand. Ouchie. You can see that we’d do some grinding, then some chiseling. Not the first time I’ve chiseled some stuff.

Here it is, ready for conduit:

Side note: Did you spot the conduit that’s already there? (If not, are you blind?) We had a brief moment of excitement that we could possibly use that instead of trenching for some new stuff, but alas we could not get the old wires out. Ah well.

Here’s Stan’s dad, feeding the pretty blue new conduit up into the attic:

We color-coded the wires before fishing them up through the conduit.

It’s… beautiful!

Next up was hiding the conduit, using some Fix-All and some plain ol’ brick mortar, since we’d knocked about one too many bricks loose and wanted to provide a little more structural support.

Here’s Stan hiding the evidence:

And here’s how it looks right at this very moment:

That’s some intense mortar, huh? Hey, we didn’t want the wall to collapse. And no one should be needing to fuss around with the 4-gang box anytime soon- the conduit offers the flexibility to fish wires in and out if need be.

All that’s left to do now is patch and finish the mess, hook up the switches, and do some more stuff in the attic (I am usually not very involved in that part, so I’m not sure exactly what.) Then, my friends, I can walk in the house and flip on a switch to illuminate my way straight to the fridge. Mmm… leftover Indian food.

Once we had all the conduit buried and the wires run, I turned to Stan and said “It’s sick to think how easy this would have been if we were dealing with sheetrock, isn’t it?” Seriously, the three of us spent about 4 hours on this. If it were a sheetrock wall, it would have taken… oh, ten minutes? But ah, the joys of living in an old house.

…who puts pepper spray in my pocket when people come over to buy my Craigslist stuff?

Thing #1: I recently bought an item that may necessitate the purchase of one of the flat screen TV stands offered by CSN! (OK, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what I just bought.)

Thing #2: I’m going to review a CSN product in the near future. Hold on to your seats, peeps!

On a completely unrelated note, how awesome is this for a backyard wedding?

Image from

You’d think that by now I would have learned to trick myself into expecting less-than-greatness from really hyped-up things. Dancing With The Stars? Yeah, NO. Bikram yoga? Hell-to-the-no. Cheesecake Factory? I don’t know because I’ve never been, but I’m guessing it’s not that great. Maybe if I’d learned to do that with this book, I would have enjoyed it more. Don’t get me wrong- I probably enjoyed it about 3.5 stars worth.

Don’t feel bad if you’ve tried to read this book and couldn’t get past the whole Wennerstrom affair- bo-ring! I consider myself to be fairly knowledgeable when it comes to business and finance matters (fairly… mildly, whatever) and the first 100 pages or so lost me. I wasn’t totally lost- I understood what was going on for the most part, but it was pretty boring, and all of the details didn’t really contribute much to the story. I would advise anyone who reads this book to skim the first 100 pages or so, or until the Wennerstrom details are pretty much over.

I loved Lisbeth’s character. She is a very unique but totally believable character. She’s a total badass, but she has her weaknesses. I didn’t feel like the author was glamorizing her problems or making her too awesome, either. Actually, I stumbled upon this flowchart and according to it, I think it can safely be concluded that Lisbeth is, indeed, a strong female character. Quite refreshing.

I don’t want to give very much of the story away, but I’ll just tell you that it’s kind of the stuff of nightmares. Once it got going, I was disgusted yet fascinated by all the morbidity and nastiness. I would stay up late into the night reading it, cowering under the covers hiding from a psychopath that was certain to be in my house. No, there never was one, but that didn’t make me sleep any easier.

Someone described Larsson’s writing style as “Scandinavian cool”. I’d say that’s pretty accurate. I’m not sure if it’s because it’s a translation or what, but the writing is a bit dry. The style has kind of grown on me though (now that I’m on Hornet’s Nest). He does go into some pretty in-depth descriptions of day-to-day things and you’re like “Get on with it! I get it- THEY WENT TO IKEA.” (That was actually the second book, but you get it.) I also felt like he went into a lot of unnecessary details about all the sexual relationships of the characters that were pretty pointless, but maybe that’s just the conservative Salt Lake in me talking.

I’m going to cheat a little bit and tell you that I’m now reading the third book, and if you can make it through Dragon Tattoo, the other two are worth it. The story has gotten really good (albeit complicated) and I’m pretty sucked in now.

PS- The movie was pretty good too- Noomi Repace is an awesome actress. But I did have to close my eyes and say “La la la la la” during some parts.

(To be sung to the tune of “Oh Christmas Tree”, or “Oh Tennenbaum”.)

The other day, as I mentioned before, I found myself wandering through Robert’s Crafts with a huge goofy grin on my face. Having completely forgotten why I went in there in the first place, I was smitten by their 50% off sale. Sure I could have held out for their almost-certain 75% off sale after Christmas, but I suddenly wanted a Christmas this year! I called Stan giggling and said “Want to decorate a Christmas tree tonight? Giggle giggle giggle!” (I don’t know what was so funny either.)

I’ve never owned a Christmas tree. My family was the type to drive up into the mountains with the ol’ 4WD and chop one down ourselves (complete with peeing in the snowy woods because as a child, of course you have to pee right when you summit a mountain with 4 feet of snow), and I plan on carrying on that tradition with my own kids someday. But for now, I’m a 25 year-old city girl and let’s face it- I’m not going to stuff a Christmas tree in the back of my ’95 Saturn SC2.

Unless it’s 4.5 feet tall.

And skinny.

And fake.

And 50% off at Robert’s.

Is that not the most pathetic thing you’ve ever seen?

Except for maybe this?

No matter. I wanted the tree to bring joy year-round, by not being a behemoth of a thing to store. And Stan and I had a great time decorating our first tree together (cheesefest- mmm, I like cheese). It turned out quite cute, I think.

And yes, I strategically cropped a few things out of the pic. Don’t worry, you’ll find out why soon enough.

In keeping with the theme I have going on of posting awesome stuff in and around other people’s houses because my own is a bit lacking lately, let me show you something awesome that my dad built with his own two hands.

Yup, it’s a greenhouse. Because Oklahoma doesn’t have a long enough summer. 🙂

Since this side of the yard (the south side) was the perfect spot despite the slope, he built up the ground, made the footings and laid the cement himself.

Then he assembled his $500 kit. Apparently that’s a steal for a setup like this- he had to drive 70 miles, disassemble it from some dude’s backyard, and bring it back.

Notice on the right-hand side that he’s doing a little experiment- instead of finishing the pavers and having everything in containers, he’s trying out planting straight into the ground. Those windows open and close according to the thermostat, if I understand it correctly.

That light is on a motorized track and goes back and forth to simulate sunlight.

These pictures are from when he first completed construction- when I was there over Thanksgiving, it was a warm, green paradise bursting with life and awesomeness.

Here it is at night:

My dad thinks it looks like a spaceship.

How cool, right? I would love to have something like this someday. He’s wanted one all his life (I think he even scrounged windows when we lived in Colorado with the plan of using them for a greenhouse) and he’s finally made it happen. Go dad! (Bring me a tomato for Christmas.)

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