Monday, September 29, 2008

Cubic feet, not square feet

The last time I did anything major to a structures roofline in my possession was back in SoCal, where we were surprised by a visit from our friendly neighborhood City Inspector who told us in no uncertain terms that the "addition" we were making to the roof of our rear patio cabana would need to be certified and inspected...for a fee.

Basically, we were adding a pitch to a flat roof of an open-air structure used for outdoor entertaining -- that was it.

After paying $50 for a permit, spending 2-hours at the City Clerk's office to obtain said permit, and shelling out another $50 for the final inspection certificate, I was made very aware of the "protective services" that our local government agencies were providing.

Which was why I was slightly gunshy when I first started researching the provenance of my small town historic home, and made a stop into the office of somebody whom I thought was the City Inspector. Basically, I was in search of any permits on file that had to do with the expansion that was done on my house sometime between 1895 and 1947.

There were, of course, no such permits on file. Back then, if you wanted to add a couple rooms and an upstairs sleeping porch, all you needed was the lumber and gumption to do it.

I was further told that even today, I'd only need a building permit and inspection certificates if I were building an additional 100 square feet or more to the house.

100 SQUARE feet...good to know.

And now, for some much anticipated views (for us at least) of the completed construction as it currently sits. The felt is on and we're dry and ready for any early fall storms that may befall us.

Location where our mini-deck will someday be built...facing westward for sunset viewing and stargazing.

Here's an interior view of a small section of what will be a playroom for the girls. You can see where the old roofline was (diagonal cut on the left wall), the small hallway entrance that we built leading from the playroom to the bathroom, as well as the future bathroom in the back, which is the room that we raised the roof up 54".

Finally a before and after view of how much change a little roof lifting and build-out can do.

Total cubic feet added - plenty enough for a 12'x17' bathroom with a standard 8' ceiling, a small hallway leading to said bathroom, and a 14'x24' playroom for the girls to spread out and slumber party in.

Total SQUARE feet added - approx. 15 square feet (the hallway)

Friday, September 26, 2008

The House of the Four Gables (with apologies to Nathaniel Hawthorne)

When last we visited our intrepid house construction/restoration/expansion ants, the new gable roof had been constructed, with the old hip roof beneath it counting its last moments of existence after 113+ years of dedicated service keeping the wind, rain, snow, sleet and hail from intruding the sacred confines of the home within.

While the family and I took in a day at the OKC Fair, my F-i-L decided it would be a good day to demolish the old wall. Upon our return, we found the view out of the rear of the house to be astoundingly wide open...

Fast forward two full days and a new vertical 90 degree wall complete with 6' glass doors and a hallway leading from the back playroom to the newly raised roofed bathroom is completed...

Finally got those shingles nailed down on the extended roof sections...using a ladder hung from two ropes as scaffolding that only the Flying Grayson's would be brave enough to sling a roofing nailer around on...

Completing the total enclosure of the new addition, we went up top and decked, felted, installed rolled roofing and flashing on the flat rooftop -- an addition of 14' to the roofline.

The final shots of the completed project are forthcoming, as my F-i-L and I take a much needed period of r&r, now that were back to being sealed, safe, and secure from the Oklahoma outdoor elements.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Ford F-150..."rubbish?"

As I meander on my regular route to and from the girl's school, from and to my small town's supermarket, and by and by the myriad of other errands my debit card and I share on a daily basis, I couldn't help but notice the growing "used truck lot" that has blossomed in the old WalMart parking acreage.

The once proud collection of bedded and high-cabbed vehicles of choice round these parts are relegated to sit with their headlights and front fascia facing the road, beckoning any passing motorist to stop and give them a looksee.

Since the gas prices climbed above $3 a gallon here, the "lot" has filled with more and more big-motored dino juice guzzlers, seemingly as a reaction by their present owners to thin their own driveway herd.

The majority of the "For Sale" monsters carry the venerable blue oval, including a few of the "best selling vehicle in the world," the Ford F-150 pickup.

Sad to see people parting with their trucks as a reaction to the high gas prices, but not sad enough that I didn't enjoy a recent viewing of my favorite televised reason to both love and hate the Brits, known as Top Gear.

Generally speaking, the blokes on Top Gear don't like any cars "we" Yanks build (even though one of them owns a classic Mustang), and this clip from a recent episode wherein they review a 2nd Gen, 380 hp Ford F-150 Lightning Edition is a great example of how a pasty Brit can sling insults on a venerable American institution such as the F-150, but do so in a thoroughly entertaining manner.

Personally, the knowledge that I could still enjoy their good humored ribbing at my/our expense, signaled that perhaps the same open-mindedness that allows me to love and appreciate cars from not only the Big 3 but from all over the world, will continue to serve me and my sanity well, here in the small Oklahoma town that I lovingly call home.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Turning a hip into a gable

"Okay smarty pants, now that you've raised the roof and have created an all new room where there once was a 3' tall one, how are you going to get to it?"

Why, we build out of course.

The hip roof that dominates the rear section of the upper floor of our 113-year old domicile is too slanted for its own good. So we decided to remove it, replace it with a flat wall, complete with sliding 6' doors, and an outside deck for the girls to get their 2nd floor view groove on. This wall will also be the jumping off platform for a short hallway that lead to -- dun-dun-dun-daaa - the newly raised roof room.

Not yet fully recovered from last weeks roof raising, my F-i-L showed up early Monday morning all fired up to begin the build out, figuring if he could work through the pain then I sure could.

The roof extension was hairy.

The side wall extensions were scary.

The hip room tie-in over the new hallway was ghastly.

The plating, papering, and shingling of the oh-so-slanted new roof was downright terrifying.

This last shot gives you an idea of just how much roof we're adding and how much of a build out the rear room/hallway/deck will encompass.

The demolition of the old hip roof section, build up of the flat wall that will be replacing it, and hallway jutting out over to the new bathroom is yet to come...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Right hand, meet the left hand

Converge is a word denoting the coming together of at least two things.

Therefore, a company that spends a good amount of money promoting their corporate identity and it's name, Convergys, should at the very least know what it's right and left hands are doing.

It all started with an email from an online friend whom I met via this blog. She was interested in pursuing some work-at-home opportunities and turned to me for some succor. After some research, I turned up several companies that offered phone/computer based jobs where all one needed was a dedicated phone line and net-accessed computer to work as a remote (home based) call-center agent.

Basically, say you call Big Faceless Company for technical help, or to order a sweater vest, or with a general question regarding that non-narcotic male enhancement solution you've been receiving emails for, and instead of sending you to some in-house call center, your call gets switched to inmates at a low-security prison or perhaps even to India where you'll be speaking to some guy named "Damon" aka Rahjneesh.

If you're really fortunate your "very important" call will be sent to the next highly-paid, highly-trained and highly-hidely-ho "home working professional agent" complete with Plantronics headset and 1.5 mpbs download speed net connection.

When I started to dig deeper into Convergys' perfect "Home Agent Program" world, the cracks on the happy faces of the generic employee jpegs at the website started seeping through the digital make-up.

First off, Firefox tossed this message at me when I wanted to find out more about the "application" process...

Since Microsoft hasn't released a version of IE for Mac in 8 years (good riddance, I say), the lack of programming support (and let's face it, code writing skill) was about to be revealed on Convergy's Windoze lemming-like faces.

Further digging revealed that they only supported Windoze clients for their Home Agent workers, claiming that their "software" would only work on Microsoft based systems. Um, software such as Acrobat Reader, Flash and Windows Media Player...all of which do work on a Mac. The topper was the propaganda video they stream off their site labeled, Benefits

See, the retired teacher sporting the sporty headsets, sitting in the sparsely decorated room taking calls and seemingly having a ball doing working on a Powerbook. A MAC Powerbook. Running an OS that isn't supported by Convergys.

Onto the Contact Us section I went to send an email pointing out the discrepancy with a slightly sarcastic reminder of the definition of the word "converge."

To their credit, the email response was not immediate, but timely enough (24-hours).
Response (Mariam) - 09/15/2008 04:28 PM
Dear Prospective Applicant,

We do appreciate your interest in our Convergys Remote Agent program.

To answer your question, no our systems are not all web-based and that is why "Windows" systems are required. Our platform is not compatible with Mac systems. Please review our requirements below.

Our videos are based on the benefits of working from home and a disclaimer is announced in the beginning of our video that reads " Actor portrayed not actual Convergys employee".

Best Regards,
Home Agent Team
"Actor portrayed not actual Convergys employee" = you will not be this happy working as a Home Agent for us, because we chose to hire actors to portray our employees since our actual Home Agents would not accurately present the image we'd like to sell you in this cheesy video.

Having previously worked for a big corporation that was often clueless in it's marketing, employment practices, and benefit shenanigans, I'll always hoot for joy (with a quick sigh of discouragement) when stupid stuff like this falls through the cracks and ends up as blogger fodder.

Monday, September 15, 2008

"O" fans unite!

The family unit and I were truckin' along the smooth cement floors of the dying mall a few towns north of us when a middle-aged fella came storming out of the Steve and Barry's that was having it's $8.98-an-item store closing sale.

He was sporting the requisite crimson and creme ball cap with the bold OU labeling, matching shirt, soiled chinos and off-brand sport shoes. Beneath his shirt lay the protruding gut of too many beers while sitting on too many barcaloungers while watching too many team sports contests on his tv.

Immediately I saw my wife put as much of herself between OU Fan and the girls who were happily skipping along, keeping track of the ratio between empty mall stores and occupied ones. She herded them in my direction and it wasn't hard to detect why she had executed such a defensive move....OU Fan was rabid.

Never did like OSU...worst school in the world far as I'm concerned....never supported them and I never will..." were the basic tenets of his jocular rave as he passed by the orange and black Cowboy section that Steve and Barry's displayed at the front of their mall chain store.

Not being from here, and having little to no exposure to what a "typical OU fan" was before relocating to the panhandle state, I may be a bit more impartial to what my Wife's family characterizes as a "typical OU fan," - local(s) who never set foot on the OU campus to attend classes, let alone any institution of higher learning beyond the 8th grade.

To be fair, my in-laws and kin-through marriage (least those we maintain contact with) are self-labeled Oklahoma fans - meaning they cheer for whatever Oklahoma team is playing, be it TU, OCU, OSU, OU, or the myriad of other campuses with the circular letter of their home state embedded in the representative school name acronym. To my knowledge, they share an equal amount of diplomas from colleges spread throughout the state, including a smattering of degrees from both OU and OSU.

Given that, I'd have to say that they're pretty much just "O" fans.

Even during "Bedlam" they hoot and holler for each team that scores a touchdown, just happy to see someone getting some points on the scoreboard and make for an interesting game.

So why then do they (my local extended family) as a group, propagate the negative stereotyping of OU fans as loudmouthed, uneducated, beer-swilling, narrow-minded, haters of anyone who doesn't bleed crimson and cream?

Can't answer that for them. Perhaps just rooting as an Okie is enough, seeing as how the state as a whole is still struggling to find some respect in the nation's minds eye.

But guys like OU Fan at the mall seem to back their claim up time and time again. Heck, Ross the Intern on the Leno show found some slightly humiliating OU fans at last years Red River Shootout that ranks up there with the best shirtless/toothless/twister-took-my-trailer post-tornado local news clippette on YouTube.

Back at the mall, once I determined that OU Fan was relatively harmless and not of any immediate danger, I smiled and waved at him like any good OU-lovin' compadre of the sports paraphernalia would do and cheerfully hollered out, Hey, what year did you graduate from OU?" to which he answered with surprising articulation and verbal acumen, "I wouldn't waste my money on going to college, get real."

Getting real over here, thanks. How's your reality treating you?

My friend MB (who has more education that any one person needs, but it's his real world experience, high IQ and moral character that has carried him forth to his perfect life) has an enlightening take on the whole "my team beat your team" mentality that is pervasive in certain segments of the world's population (face it, team fanaticism outside the US puts our OU/OSU rivalry to shame).

In his blog posting, he muses, "I have always bristled at people referring to "their" team. (No, you just pay them for expensive merchandise with their logo. As far as I know only the Green bay Packers can be "their" team because people own shares for them.)"

"I just don't get the concept of the taking credit for others work just because you watched. Be it "our team won" or "we won so many medals" was them, you sat on the couch."

Friday, September 12, 2008

Near poppage for tossing a fictitious ciggie

Well, the long arm of the law in my small town was bound to catch up to me sooner or later, and sure enough last week my wild ways found me looking down the barrel of a citation book and ball point pen.

It was strange to be buzzing by the high school football field on a Thursday night, but since the first game of the season was scheduled to be a night-before-Friday-night lights game, we chose to let the girls attend their first dance lesson of the fall instead of cheering for our small town's gridiron gladiators.

So there we were, cruising by the field, craning our necks to be rewarded with the sight of our team having secured a 20-0 lead in the first half, when I caught a glimpse of a patrol car in my side view mirror.

I didn't think much more of it until a minute later when, after I had navigated a perfectly signaled left turn, I found myself pulling over to the sights of the flashy-flashies in my rear view.

Immediately I turn to my wife with my best, "what'd I do?" expression, followed up with a staccato scattering of rhetorical questions..."was I speeding...did I not there something hanging from my nose?"

And the most important question, keeping in mind that I'm a resident of a small town, "I wonder which of the half-dozen or so officer's, most of whom I know, is pulling me over?"

Turns out my wife and I spent more time explaining the higher concepts of law enforcement and the finer points of how to react when being popped by a cop than we did explaining to Deputy Babyface of the Sheriff's Department that neither my wife nor I smoked and even if we did, we certainly would not toss a used ciggie butt out of the window.

After a quick check under my car to ensure my exhaust wasn't dragging (the plausible explanation I offered for the "spark" that Sheriff's Deputy BF claimed to have spotted coming from my car), we were given a pleasant "You folks have a nice evening" toodaloo and sent on our way.

My opinion? It was game night in town, Sheriff D BF spied a slightly lowered rice-rocket putter by, heard the non-stock exhaust note and thought he'd see what kind of trouble was stirring behind my Oklahoma legal 25% VLT window tint.

I still chuckle to think about his brain toot when he peered in to find a middle-aged stay-at-home-Dad and his nuclear wife and two doe-eyed daughters in dance tights and ballet slippers staring up at him.

Wifey says I need to get an "adult" car. I don't know, do these things happen to pick-up truck driver's in my small town?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Da roof, da roof, da roof is...5-feet higher!

Sometime between 1895 (pictured above, the earliest known image of our house was published in a special edition of the local newspaper) and 1947 (the year the family whom my in-laws are friends with moved into the house and provided us with valuable information on how the house was laid-out mid-last century), the owners of our home added on.

The addition included a side entry covered porch, a long spacious room (27'x17') and a small bedroom (17'x10') which had an identical sized room built above it as a screened-in sleeping porch.

When we moved in, the larger room had been broken up into a laundry room, bathroom, side entrance hallway and coat closet. Only recently has this room been completely gutted to the studs and has become our mudroom/laundry room/kiddie art studio.

Last year, the low-ceilinged (7') small bedroom became our downstairs bathroom, complete with 8' ceilings, separate shower, vintage clawfoot tub (restored by moi) and multi-media viewing room (don't ask).

Still with me? Okay then, located above the just mentioned downstairs bathroom was a low-ceilinged (7') sleeping porch-turned storage area that has now become an 8' ceilinged space-soon to be upstairs bathroom, complete with a 3' crawl space between it and the bathroom directly below it.

How then, did we turn two stories with a total of 14' vertical feet between them into two 8' tall rooms with 3' of crawlspace between them (do the math...) for a grand total of 19 vertical feet?

We raised the roof of course.

Well, first off, we raised the ceiling in the downstairs room just over 1'.

Then we floored in a 3' section above that room to run plumbing, electrical and heat/ac ducting. That left us with just over 3' for the top floor room as pictured below.

And since even a fully grown Hobbit would have trouble bathing, showering, and applying make-up in an upstairs bathroom with 3' ceilings, our only option was to do this...

I'll not bore you with the particulars and play-by-play analysis of just how my F-i-Law and I accomplished this task, but I will say it involved many hours of planning, four manually-operated mechanical farm jacks, oodles of lumber, massive amounts of sweat, hundreds of 3 1/2 inch air gun inserted nails and a ton of my F-i-Law's good 'ol Okie guts and gumption.

Oh, and a couple of hefty guide poles that made our neighbors and passers-by wonder if we were indeed filming Children of the Corn Part 8 (yes, there have been 7 CotC flicks).

There's more to this epic that includes a goodly amount of wind, daily rainfall accumulation, my fear of falling from ladders above 19' in the air, exhaustion, hammer-hand fatigue, an air nail gun that kept losing it's trigger, and my F-i-Law's first taste of VitaminWater ("This water tastes kinda funny..."), but after a very long day and anticipating some rain and wind overnight, we arrived here...

Then here...

Then here...

And my Elky sits here...

Why blog about this? Basically it's just an excuse to let you know why I haven't been blogging much here. Pretty good excuse, huh?

Wednesday, September 03, 2008


What is your state's official rock and roll song? Don't know? Loser.

In my adopted state's State House there currently sits Resolution No. 1047 which states:
WHEREAS, the Oklahoma Legislature has adopted a State Folk Song (“Oklahoma Hills”, Jack and Woody Guthrie), a State Country and Western Song (“Faded Love”, Bob Wills), and an official State Song (“Oklahoma”, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II); and

WHEREAS, Oklahoma has been home to many exceptional rock and roll performers and song writers and no official Rock and Roll Song has been adopted; and

WHEREAS, the people of Oklahoma should be integral in selecting the official Rock and Roll Song; ...
So basically we (OK taxpayers) have funded a website wherein anyone (are they checking IP addresses to ensure all voters are local...what about Okie's living abroad, or in other states, can they not vote?) can select among the 10 songs culled from the MASSIVE herd of rock and roll songs penned or performed by Okies past and present.

Go here to vote and listen to full versions of all the nominated songs.

Go ahead, you know you want to. I triple-dog dare you.

There are some rockin' songs on the list and as much as it pained me not to vote for The King's tune, I went with the thoroughly karaoke-appropriate song that I've been singing out loud since kiddiedom, never realizing that I'd indeed get to Oklahoma way before I ever got to Spain.