Gut the room.

Like (I hope) many of you, the Nall/Derringer Co-Prosperity Sphere has seen its investment portfolios go a little nutty in recent months. Blessed with all this new “wealth,” we’ve decided to spend a little bit of it, remembering the lessons of recent downturns. One lesson: My sister had a colleague who liquidated a bunch of stock in a red-hot market to buy a BMW. The stock (and many others) went south soon afterward, and he said, philosophically, “At least I got a car.”

We, however, are getting a kitchen. It’ll be the last big project left on the Big Projects list, and it’s time for this 30-year-old Home Depot cheap-ass shit to GO. The contractor is Ukrainian, and references say he brings an eastern European work ethic to the job, but any free advice you have to offer, I’m listening. The estimate arrives later today.

I had a busy-busy weekend. A charity nonprofit I serve on the board for had its main fundraiser this weekend, and it blotted out the sun. In reality, the sun (and moon) shone down benevolently on us, and I took some pictures before the party got started, so enjoy a couple of them. The temperature was mild, and the ice was on the move. It was quite a sight:

Even prettier as the sun went down:

This was at a local yacht club, so hence the waterfront setting. We raised about $15,000.

Not much bloggage today, although it seemed when I wasn’t partying this weekend, I was reading the news with a perma-furrowed brow. Just one story, today, which would seem to indicate another Night of the Long Knives may be coming in the Justice Department:

WASHINGTON — A secret, highly contentious Republican memo reveals that Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein approved an application to extend surveillance of a former Trump campaign associate shortly after taking office last spring, according to three people familiar with it.

The renewal shows that the Justice Department under President Trump saw reason to believe that the associate, Carter Page, was acting as a Russian agent. But the reference to Mr. Rosenstein’s actions in the memo — a much-disputed document that paints the investigation into Russian election meddling as tainted from the start — indicates that Republicans may be moving to seize on his role as they seek to undermine the inquiry.

These people do not act like they have nothing to hide.

Have a good week, all.

Posted at 10:04 am in Same ol' same ol' |
 

64 responses to “Gut the room.”

  1. Icarus said on January 29, 2018 at 10:15 am

    There are jokes/stereotypes about Polish Contractors in Chicago but I won’t go there. With any project it usually is pick two because you may not get all three (Time | Cost | Quality). ie if you want it Good and Fast, it won’t be cheap. If you want it Cheap and Fast, it won’t be good.

    Coincidentally we are also putting a little money into the house in order to potentially sell it at a later date. My current homework is to research Split Ductless A/C and get a quote. Even if it only saves me one year of not hauling window AC units back and forth, it might be worth it.

    Best of luck with your reno Nancy. Remember to take before, during and after pictures and keep us updated.

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  2. Icarus said on January 29, 2018 at 10:42 am

    On the last thread people talked about boycotting Home Depot and Lowes (which ties in nicely with Nancy’s home improvement project). I don’t think boycotting companies with rightwing CEO/owners makes much sense. They employee a lot of people and those are the ones who get hurt. They cannot all have the same mindset; even in the Catholic Church you find progressive priests and lay people.

    to Dexter’s point about conservatives regurgitating the talking points, here’s something a conservative “friend” of mine wrote on his FB page in response to some liberal bashing meme or video he shared:

    Absolutely…frankly I’m furious every time a court throws out a voter ID law falling back on the assertion that they intentionally disenfranchise various groups. Particularly since all the states trying to implement them have offered expanded options for accepted ID and also usually will provide the indigent with FREE IDs.

    It is totally ludicrous to consider requiring ID is onerous and discriminatory!

    ..definitely. It’s mighty ironic that they are willing to give IDs/licenses to illegals and automatically register all to Vote…and then not require the ID when voting!

    The People’s Republic of California is so far gone that I’m just waiting for it to slip into the ocean!

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  3. Jeff Borden said on January 29, 2018 at 10:54 am

    One lesson we’ve learned from several remodeling projects including our kitchen –twice– is to build into the cost an additional 30 percent, particularly if you have an older home. Ours was built in 1903 and every single thing we’ve ever done has been more complicated than we ever imagined, which added additional expenses. Also, you can probably assume you’ll never hit the projected completion date on time.

    We relocated a microwave and our coffeemakeer into the dining room and ate a ton of takeout. We had a good, local contractor with a Polish foreman and Hispanic workers. And it was still a major pain in the ass.

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  4. Deggjr said on January 29, 2018 at 11:31 am

    Free advice! I would suggest buying materials directly or reimbursing the contractor directly from the suppliers (paid) invoice. We started paying the contractor for materials but it turned out the contractor was not paying the suppliers. The contractor went bankrupt and a supplier placed a lien on our property. The resolution of the lien was a lengthy process. Details upon request.

    Material estimates were part of the initial project budget. It turned out the material estimates were made up. I thought builders received discounts. Later a supplier told me everyone pays basically the same price, at least for our scale. I now know I could have reality checked the materials estimate by visiting a Home Depot/Menards/Lowes/Equivalent.

    Last, don’t get too far ahead on payments. In five minutes my dad can stand on three driveways in his neighborhood poured by a recommended concrete contractor. He paid a down payment of 1/3 of his driveway project and the contractor went AWOL without doing any work. There is no practical recourse.

    Good luck.

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  5. adrianne said on January 29, 2018 at 12:03 pm

    David’s parents attribute their long, happy marriage to never doing a major home renovation project. Their house looks like it’s stuck in the mid-1960s, but they’re still together.

    Good luck on your project!

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  6. Scout said on January 29, 2018 at 12:04 pm

    Innocent people are usually quite eager to have things out in the open to prove their innocence. The Trump cabal acts anything but innocent. For people claiming they have nothing to hide, they sure don’t act like it. Josh Marshall is making the case that last week was particularly bad for a President* who never seems to have a good one.
    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/a-very-bad-week-for-a-lawless-president

    Kitchen remodels are a hassle because the heart of the house stops beating for an extended period of time. But the end result will be so worth it. I agree with those who have already advised that you purchase the materials yourself. Even if your contractor gets a special rate, he’s going to mark it up and it will be the same as or more than you would have spent on your own. One more thing – go quartz for your countertop. It is much, much easier to maintain than granite. Trust me.

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  7. ROGirl said on January 29, 2018 at 12:30 pm

    I had my bathroom redone in 2016, it was worth it.

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  8. ROGirl said on January 29, 2018 at 12:35 pm

    Didn’t mean to submit. Where’s the edit feature? Anyway, my contractor was very honest, kind of OCD, but he did everything I wanted.

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  9. nancy said on January 29, 2018 at 12:40 pm

    This is Alan’s all-time favorite scene from “King of the Hill.” Relevant to your interests, Basset.

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  10. Kath said on January 29, 2018 at 12:57 pm

    We remodeled the 160 sq. ft. kitchen in our 1940s home last year. We started demo on March 29th and were 90% done by the 4th of July. We went down to the studs and replaced everything including the windows. We went over budget by about 25%, in part because we didn’t have good data on how much certain things cost, and we splurged on a couple custom cabinets and art tile.

    We hired a designer who did a set of drawings for a flat fee and then provided consulting services to us for an hourly fee. That worked out great. Having good drawings made communications with contractors much easier. We gave everyone who worked on the project a copy.

    I did all the project management, which is like having a demanding part-time job. I took about 3 weeks off from work for various appointments. Scheduling contractors was tough. Several times I was told by a contractor that they wouldn’t be able to complete the work for 6 weeks, but when I emailed a week later their schedule had opened up because another project was delayed.

    The worst part was the first 6 weeks without running water in the kitchen. Cooking in our improvised kitchen was more difficult than expected, so we ended up eating a lot of take out.

    Best of luck. Please post progress photos.

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  11. Julie Robinson said on January 29, 2018 at 1:25 pm

    Seconding all the suggestions above and assuming journalists have researched the licensing and references of anyone they hire.

    We had a contractor who asked for a check to be made out to him instead of his company, only to find out it was so he could pay his subs in cash without running it through the company. That didn’t fly with us, though others have told me that it wasn’t our concern, but between the two of them.

    Not sure if Michigan has a release of lien law, but in Florida getting one from the contractor shows that all the subs have been paid, and can’t come back to sue you later.

    Snacks and beverages were always welcomed by the guys working on our house, and to me just seem to be the decent thing to do. They brought their own or went out, but I felt it eased conversation and bringing up issues later.

    Besides a microwave, crock pot or instant pot, the most useful thing we used was an electric fry pan. We fed a group of six during a three day stay with those, and the worst thing was washing dishes in the laundry room sink. Oof, my back remembers that!

    We started with a new roof on our Orlando house and ended up enlarging and replacing the entire lanai, which then made the screen enclosure look so tacky we’re getting that replaced next.

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  12. Peter said on January 29, 2018 at 1:39 pm

    As an architect I can tell you stories that will curl your hair, but as far as practical advice:
    – do a spreadsheet where you list all of the items you’ll need – each individual appliance, faucet, luminaire, etc. with a budget number for each. That will keep you in line when you see something to die for at the showroom – you’ll either accept that the $$ go up or something else will be cut to keep the budget.
    – Scout’s right on the countertops – I have granite, and it was the right choice at the time, but you really need a good quartz countertop today.
    – Contractors need to make money on projects. They get it by marking up their purchases and the wages they pay out – if you buy the material, they’ll shift that over to the wages. Contractors don’t do projects out of the kindness of their hearts, and if they did, they wouldn’t do it for you.
    – Take your time and do some research on the kitchen hood. It’s usually done as an afterthought, and it shows. Get the right sized one, get one that has enough power to exhaust your food odors without sounding like a jet engine, get one with a quality stainless steel finish that is easy to clean, and mount it at the right height. Ours is too low, and my brother in law has hit his head on it more than once. But if it’s too high, it won’t exhaust well. Don’t put a kitchen cabinet above the exhaust hood; a lot of people still do and you would get more bang for your buck by flushing the money down the toilet.

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  13. Peter said on January 29, 2018 at 1:49 pm

    Icarus, I have to say this about the gentleman who didn’t understand opposition to voter ID laws: I DO think it’s reasonable to ask people to show some sort of ID in order to vote. My problem is, despite what this gentleman thinks, several states make it very difficult to get an ID in order to vote.

    Exhibit A: My son, who moved to Wisconsin in 2016. He still isn’t able to vote in Wisconsin because he had to personally show up at the county seat to begin the process, show three forms of proof that he does reside at an address in the county, and then wait several months while they review the application. BTW – driver’s licenses or student ID’s don’t count.

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  14. Jakash said on January 29, 2018 at 1:57 pm

    I realize that a reasonable column by a journalist (and not a liberal one, FWIW) is not going to be changing the minds of folks who are dazzled by the Maximum Leader’s supposed brilliance in managing the economy, but this is still interesting to me. Out of many nuggets, I’ll just quote this: “Trump boasted on Twitter Wednesday: ‘Tremendous investment by companies from all over the world being made in America. There has never been anything like it.’ Oh? From 2009 to 2016, new foreign direct investment more than doubled. Last year, it declined.”

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/chapman/ct-perspec-chapman-trump-economy-growth-jobs-128-20180126-story.html

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  15. Deborah said on January 29, 2018 at 2:11 pm

    Or if you study up a little, you can be an owner/contractor, that’s what we did for our cabin. Granted we probably had a little more knowledge going in, given our professions. It’s not that difficult, you’d have to hire someone to design and do construction drawings. There are plenty of hungry designers/drafters. You could check with colleges.

    You can do the demolision yourselves too. It’s kind of fun smashing up old fixtures etc. LB and I did some renovation work on the bathroom in Santa Fe. We did plumbing and wiring by watching videos on You Tube. It all takes time though.

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  16. basset said on January 29, 2018 at 2:13 pm

    Taking our 1400-sf tract house down to bare studs & floor joists and rebuilding after a flood took us close to five months, in a city where similar repairs on many, many other houses made both workers and materials tough to get. We’d sit down with our contractor and a spreadsheet every Friday afternoon, worked out about as well as it could have.

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  17. basset said on January 29, 2018 at 2:15 pm

    “King of the Hill” looks about right… or maybe I’m just old and cranky.

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  18. Deborah said on January 29, 2018 at 2:37 pm

    Also, for the cabin we bought all the materials ourselves and arranged for deliveries to our remote site. I remember holding my breath when I ordered the concrete for the foundation, making sure the truck could get up there. They sent out a scout. We ordered a crane to hoist up the structural moment frames. Good times. We hired 2 guys from Taos to do the actual building and paid them by the hour. They knew what they were doing and were great.

    I took a building class in upstate NY, for 10 days. I know I’ve commented about it here previously, so I won’t bore you all again. It was a good way for me to get over my fears, and to have a rudimentary idea of how it works.

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  19. alex said on January 29, 2018 at 2:44 pm

    No temptation whatsoever to cash in on my inflated retirement savings. When the market corrects itself, as it will inevitably, I’ll be left just that much poorer.

    As for kitchen remodels, I’m glad I have a handy hubby and fairly decent design sensibilities. We did the work ourselves and saved a ton. We also solved problems creatively as we went along, whereas contractors don’t have much patience or flexibility that way. A contractor wouldn’t have known any better than we did what we’d find after we started demolishing things and a contractor would have socked us with all kinds of extra costs instead of coming up with creative workarounds.

    We need to remodel both of our baths, which have spongy, mildewy drywall giving way beneath the tile in the showers. It’s a 60-year-old house and they didn’t use cement board back then. We have some fabulous tile that we intended to use for this purpose, but it’s so much work and such a hassle that I’m seriously thinking of just buying pre-made acrylic tub surrounds and saying fuck it. And new vanities from IKEA. But I don’t want to touch my retirement funds.

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  20. Sherri said on January 29, 2018 at 3:00 pm

    This is a great thread for me. A kitchen remodel is on my horizon, and I’ve done some research, talking to people in my neighborhood who have done remodels, but I just haven’t had time to move forward. I also can’t decide on the scope of the project; do I want to knock out that wall between the kitchen and the dining room? It would open up the house dramatically, but also turn the project into a really major one.

    Nothing is going to happen in the next 8 weeks, though, because I just signed up for my first powerlifting meet! March 24, in Seattle, a meet for rookie competitors.

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  21. Dorothy said on January 29, 2018 at 3:09 pm

    Basset please see my comment to you at the end of the previous thread!

    Last May we had a contractor and his wife/business partner paint our entire first floor, and they re-tiled the guest bathroom and painted it on the 2nd floor. They did outstanding work. The couple across the street from us recommended them. Keith (the contractor) was candid about having a fight with leukemia a few years ago. Well it has come back, and he’s unable to work. We are very sad for him, but also sorry for ourselves as we’ve found a few more jobs we wanted to hire him for. He’s hoping for a bone marrow transplant soon. Maybe if he’s fortunate to survive that and get his health back, we can still have him work for us in a year or so.

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  22. jcburns said on January 29, 2018 at 3:10 pm

    The edit button is where it’s always been, but if you’ve disabled javascript in your web browser, it won’t be there…because editing requires javascript.

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  23. Deborah said on January 29, 2018 at 3:41 pm

    For our place in Chicago, we hired a contractor who was recommended by the building. I wouldn’t begin to do an owner/contractor situation in Chicago. Our contractor was a good guy, he had done a lot of work in the building so he knew what was behind the walls. We took down walls but didn’t touch much in the bathroom (removed some mirrors) and did nothing in the kitchen. We had to redo the ceiling in the whole place (except bath and kitchen as I said). All the demo work was done by Hispanic guys and all the plastering was done by polish guys. A Ukrainian guy was the painter and an Irish guy did some wood work. An Italian guy did the travertine marble floor finishing and boy did he do a good job. Some day I’d like to redo the kitchen, it was renovated in the 80s and looks it, it’s also teeny tiny. I know I’ve commented here that when we bought the place it was covered in mirrors, there were glass slivers everywhere for a while. Since it is an historic building now you have to get permission for everything, especially anything around the perimeter windows. Our window blinds could only be a certain grey/white range and had to be approved.

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  24. Deborah said on January 29, 2018 at 3:51 pm

    Off topic but interesting, to me and maybe Jeff tmmo. In the NYT yesterday, some people I’ve met in Abiquiu are quoted and pictured https://mobile.nytimes.com/2018/01/28/us/indian-slaves-genizaros.html?smid=fb-share&referer=https://m.facebook.com/

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  25. Judybusy said on January 29, 2018 at 5:13 pm

    Deborah, that was a really interesting article–thanks for sharing. I am reading a book now about how people are fighting extremism in Africa–4 countries are highlighted. One is Mauritania, which still has a slave-holding segment of society. I had no idea, and the fight against it is fascinating.

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  26. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 29, 2018 at 5:27 pm

    “Hmmm, ’bout two weeks.”

    Recurring line from “The Money Pit.” Great movie. Well, not for Nancy right now.

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  27. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 29, 2018 at 5:30 pm

    Deborah, I had also heard around the area that the Genízaros had an influence on the Penitentes, which would fit.

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  28. Andrea said on January 29, 2018 at 6:39 pm

    We did our kitchen about 13 years ago, when I had a 4-year-old and a 6-year-old and was pregnant. Our youngest was born about 2 weeks after the contractor finished, and that was with ginormously preggo me snarling at him to get out of my house! Do not come between a mama and her nesting urge.

    My tip: save some money in the budget for a professional post-construction clean. Even with doors, and plastic barriers, and covered floors, etc. the dust got absolutely everywhere. I called a reputable cleaning company and requested a post-construction house clean and it was worth every penny. Of course, by then I was in no condition to be dusting the tops of ceiling fans or crown molding, etc.

    Everyone getting ready to riot in the streets when Rosenstein and/or Mueller are fired? I am signed up with a local group that is prepared to mobilize people. I am thinking about leaving comfortable shoes in my car or office, just in case.

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  29. alex said on January 29, 2018 at 6:46 pm

    My beef with contractors is that they always insist they can’t do things the way you’d like them when really they just don’t want to. My parents have had wonderful improvements designed by an architect but the contractors show up and want to take cheap shortcuts that compromise the design and once they’re there and have already done the demolition you’re hard put to fire them for being uncooperative. Of course, architects can be ridiculous too. My mom wanted a stainless steel countertop and the architect told her no, that wouldn’t be in keeping with her modern house, no such materials were used then. So he gave her Corian instead, which didn’t exist in 1954, while the house next door to my parents still has an original stainless counter from 1954 which is what gave my mom the inspiration in the first place. I’m pretty sure the architect just didn’t know where to get one. Or maybe he’s just one of those men who’s used to telling women what they really want. The Corian is ugly. The worn plum-colored original formica counters would still look better today than that shit ever did.

    We have stainless counters because my partner fabricated them himself in a sheet metal shop and placed them over the existing formica counters. We also decided to go with exposed silver spiral ductwork to finish out the look and open up space that would otherwise have been walled in. We came up with the idea as we went along and I’m sure no contractor would have indulged us in it.

    I love my kitchen. And my island has a nice piece of my mom’s old plum-colored formica on it. And it’s on casters, also our idea, which makes it so much more practical.

    If we take my parents’ house eventually — it’s a money pit, I’m afraid — we’ll wrap that fucking Corian in stainless steel. Although I wouldn’t mind going back to the purple formica. It looked simply amazing with the yellow birch cabinetry.

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  30. David C. said on January 29, 2018 at 6:48 pm

    At least around here, contractors are hard to come by. Two people I work with have built houses in the past few months and both went over schedule by a couple of months because everyone is so busy.

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  31. susan said on January 29, 2018 at 6:54 pm

    The Money Pit is based on Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, which starred Carey Grant and Myrna Loy. My brother, the ex-contractor, says this is a much better movie than The Money Pit. Carey Grant! How could that NOT be just the best??? But I still have not been able to watch either one after major remodelling of my little house 2005-2007. Stuff is still too fresh after all those years. Part of the problem was living in the house while the contractors were working, day after day. That got really old. Plus the constant decisions to make right now, not completely understanding possible consequences. And my contractors (a father and son) were the absolute best. I cannot imagine doing what all I had to do with anyone else.

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  32. Julie Robinson said on January 29, 2018 at 7:06 pm

    Alex, I have to say that our Orlando contractor did beautiful work and only made positive suggestions that stemmed from his experience. They vastly improved the project. Part of my problem, and to a lesser degree, my husband too, is that we have so little experience, especially with the climate and pool stuff. And I have great difficult visualizing what the finished project will look like.

    At some point I had to give up control and trust his expertise. And I’m really happy with how it all looks.

    We had started this project a whole year ago, had problems finding a contractor, and then were further delayed by the hurricane. It’s almost impossible to find a roofer or similar contractors right now.

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  33. Jolene said on January 29, 2018 at 7:11 pm

    At least around here, contractors are hard to come by.

    That might be a general problem. And not only contractors, but workers as well. Yesterday, I happened across an article about a a job fair in Pittsburgh that was organized because there is such a high demand for labor in the building trades. Of course, the article was focused on commercial construction, but demand is demand.

    I’m sure the need for skilled laborers to deal with the aftermath of hurricanes and fires is also pulling people from markets where the demand for labor is lower.

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  34. susan said on January 29, 2018 at 7:13 pm

    Momentarily off-topic: ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

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  35. Deborah said on January 29, 2018 at 7:19 pm

    Andrea you are so right about the professional cleaning crew afterwards. Our contractor always used the wives of the Hispanic demo guys. It was fantastic and sooooo worth whatever it cost, which I recall being a lot less than expected. We would have had plaster dust, glass slivers and marble dust to deal with for months if we hadn’t done the professional cleanup in Chicago.

    I did the cleanup in Abiquiu, which was basically a lot of dust from outside which is ongoing in Abiquiu. You learn to live with it. I think of it as clean dust, unlike grimey city dust.

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  36. alex said on January 29, 2018 at 7:54 pm

    To second what Dorothy mentioned upthread, our local Home Depot always has knowledgeable high-caliber personnel whenever the economy’s sucking but when the building trades are going full tilt they employ a lot of stoner slackers who couldn’t find their own ass with two hands, let alone a light diffuser.

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  37. Deborah said on January 29, 2018 at 7:57 pm

    We had to move into our place in Chicago while it was still being worked on. That wasn’t fun in such a small space but we survived. I made myself scarce in the city during the day. We also had to move a month later than we had planned but it was OK, we lived with things in boxes for longer than we wanted but it wasn’t that bad, or because of my age I’ve just forgotten how bad it was.

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  38. basset said on January 29, 2018 at 8:43 pm

    Back to Corian for a minute… it is also widely used on guitars as raw material for the “nut,” the slotted bar where the strings rest near the head of the guitar. And, of course, obsessives will discuss whether it’s really the best possible material:

    https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/theunofficialmartinguitarforum/is-the-corian-nut-good-enough-t126698.html

    I think I have a Corian nut on one of my guitars, not sure and don’t care because it seems to work fine – one of the mandolins has deer bone, that’s a whole different story though. Kitchen counter top is granite.

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  39. susan said on January 29, 2018 at 9:17 pm

    I used slate-black formica™©®-type laminate for the kitchen counter. It was inexpensive, durable, and looks really nice, especially with the dark grey splash that is topped with two rows of 1″ square varied colored small glass mosaic tiles. Granite and soapstone counters are hugely expensive and a pain in the butt to maintain. Feh on that shit!

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  40. David C. said on January 29, 2018 at 9:41 pm

    I’m we’re not the only ones, Susan. Our house was supposed to have granite, we wanted Formica. They though we were nuts.

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  41. BigHank53 said on January 29, 2018 at 9:50 pm

    My sister-in-law went completely over the top for the kitchen remodel in her old house: soapstone countertops, soapstone sink, Blue Point range, Restoration Hardware light fixtures, etc. She got talked into a lot of it by her designer. I remember fuming over her “appliance garage”, a little cupboard right on top of the counter that hides your food processor and coffee grinder and whatnot. $800 worth of soapstone hiding in there, doing nothing. The whole thing was like that, with fiddly latches on the cabinets so you couldn’t open one with anything in your hand, and crappy lighting under the cabinets. It was a kitchen laid out by someone who’d spent forty times more time looking at houzz.com than they had cooking. I hated it.

    They probably lost about $100k when they had to sell the thing.

    If you decide you need stone countertops, the quartz is much easier to deal with than granite. I like butcher block myself: it’s very forgiving with your china, glasses, and knives. It does stain, but my kitchens are work zones first. It’s also cheap enough that you can budget a replacement in five years. Buy a good faucet. You don’t need to spend a fortune; just a few hundred on a Kohler or Delta. Stainless sinks stay good-looking a lot longer than ceramic; my farmhouse sink is all scratched up. Again, work zone, so I don’t care much, but it’ll have to be replaced before we move out because it looks permanently grimy. You may as well get a Bosch dishwasher like everyone else. The little third drawer for silverware (instead of a basket) looks like a gimmick but it’s really nice. (Other brands have them as well if you hate Bosch.) Stoves and refrigerators are a real crapshoot these days. Buy the extended warranties on those.

    If you’re really strapped for cash consider keeping the cabinet carcasses (the outer box) and replace the fronts, drawers, and hardware. One of the reasons why Ikea kitchens feel nicer than other stuff at the same price point is because they use high quality Blum slides and hinges. Everything else is particle board or MDF, but that hardware…

    Think about your lighting before you start so the electrician only visits once. Spend the extra for dimmable LEDs and the dimmers. Specify warm white and not those horrid blue-tinted things. Put in a sprinkler–though that may be code anyway. If you’re cooking fanatics or entertain a lot you may want a prep sink–just a second small sink and faucet so someone can scrub a carrot or fill up the kettle while the main sink is busy. That’s at the top of our list for the dream kitchen; it’d never fit into the 120 square feet we currently have.

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  42. Heather said on January 29, 2018 at 9:53 pm

    Well, Twitter is in a meltdown about a potential constitutional crisis with the news that the FBI and the DOJ are under investigation and Trump’s refusal to enforce sanctions on Russia. I have to say I am starting to agree with those who say we’ve already lost. This isn’t a democracy. I don’t think playing by the rules is going to do much at this point.

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  43. Deborah said on January 29, 2018 at 10:58 pm

    I plan on screaming in the streets when I get back to Chicago. I figure nothing will happen until after the state of the union speech tomorrow, which I have no intention of listening to. If Rosenstein gets fired and then Mueller, that will be the end for me. I have no idea what I will do, but it won’t be pretty.

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  44. Deborah said on January 29, 2018 at 11:21 pm

    It would be really interesting if Mueller would indict Kushner tomorrow. Of course that won’t happen, but it sure would turn the world upside down. The Craven Republicans toadying to Trump, seem desperate and will stop at nothing, which is unbelievable to watch.

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  45. Dexter said on January 30, 2018 at 12:08 am

    …not ready to jump off the MSU dissing, in case you missed it, Earvin Magic Johnson on Monday called for the firing of any MSU people who knew and kept quiet of the massive scandal of hush-hush that’s now been exposed up in East Lansing. This is huge because Johnson is known world-wide and he gets quoted when he speaks; he carries weight.

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  46. alex said on January 30, 2018 at 7:42 am

    I second what bighank says regarding cabinetry. Ours was built like a brick shitter. A Sawzall proved incapable of separating a peninsula from the rest of the cabinetry and we had to bring in a chainsaw. Seriously. The peninsula is now an island on casters, but it would have been destroyed in the demolition phase if we hadn’t been able to free it. We utilized our old custom cabinets instead of buying new made from particle board and we’re very happy with them. We also kept our old subway tile backsplash because it’s in perfect repair not to mention timeless and neutral and people can’t tell whether it’s brand new or 60 years old, whereas if we’d replaced it with the newish glitzy glue-on stuff it would be screaming 2015 ten years from now if it was still even sticking to the wall.

    We also love butcher block counters and almost went with it before we decided to go with steel. And with our system, if the surface gets scratched up and dented over time, we can always replace it with a new sheet of stainless.

    We put a lot of heart and soul into this house and it will be hard to leave it one day. I want to hold onto it as an investment property perhaps except that I don’t want renters trashing it.

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  47. Suzanne said on January 30, 2018 at 8:57 am

    Heather @ 42. I am beginning to agree with you. We have lost. Writing to my Congressmen seems pointless. If they answer back, it’s with their tea party talking points. They almost never hold town hall meetings. I’ve given up thinking the GOP, even the ones that say they don’t like Trump, will do anything. I have relatives who married immigrants and my children have good friends who are immigrants and I worry a lot about what will happen to them. They are all legal, but once Trump & his minions get rid of the illegals, they will need a new enemy and I expect they will go after the legal immigrants and naturalized citizens. And by then, it’ll be much too late.

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  48. Pam said on January 30, 2018 at 9:03 am

    When our kitchen was remodeled, someone told me to buy an electric skillet. Found an old and working one at a tag sale for $5 and it was well worth it (the old square model with a dome lid and a non-stick surface). You get so tired of eating out. The electric skillet will make easy things like hamburgers, sloppy joes, chicken etc. It was a great purchase. We made food in either the garage or the laundry room. Also, find a place in the house with a small shelf to put things like bread, cereal, peanut butter, snacks, condiments, paper plates and napkins. Mine went in the back closet. Our contractor left the frig in the kitchen until the last minute and then it went into the garage. Your garage is detached so the frig may need to go into the dining room. Be prepared for that.

    A healthy contingency fund was good advice. We found that as the kitchen was being remodeled, all the other rooms (like the 1/2 bath for instance) started to look shabby, so we added that to the job. I’ll be anxious to see how your kitchen turns out.

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  49. Dorothy said on January 30, 2018 at 9:18 am

    Susan @34 – the other side of the ticket had an error as well. It said “Visitor’s Gallery” but should have been printed as “Visitors Gallery” or even “Visitors’ Gallery”.

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  50. FDChief said on January 30, 2018 at 10:03 am

    Frankly, the America we grew up in, the country with a social contract based on the New Deal, died when the GOP rammed the brutally oligarchic crony-capitalist budget in law and the subjects’ response was not pitchforks and torches and the Swiss Guard butchered at the gates of the Tuileries but a massive shrug. Watching the Trumpkins formalize the transition to a “conservative” kleptocracy is depressing but hardly shocking. The portion of our fellow “citizens” who have sold us out to our plutocratic masters are simply echoing the treason of the French Right in 1940, welcoming the Nazis to save the nation from Jews and socialism.

    What IS galling, though, is what these damn Cletuses are willing to hand over the rest of us to the makers of Soylent Green FOR; not some Great Cause, but to buy fifteen AR-15 knockoffs, to avoid having to press 1 for English, to force that slut to bear her little bastard, and to make negroes stand up thru “To Anaecron In Heaven”.

    While it’s always irking to be betrayed, it’s particularly trying to be sold down the river for such shitty reasons.

    “Why, Richard, it profits a man nothing to sell his soul for the entire world. But…for Wales…”

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  51. Deborah said on January 30, 2018 at 10:53 am

    I had a migraine last night, haven’t had one of those in a while.

    We can’t give up. If, no when, Trump fires Rosenstein then Mueller we need to take to the streets by the hundreds of thousands. I’m not sure how that helps, but it’s better than nothing. Cards and letters, phone calls, it needs to be Bombardment. The press needs to go ballistic and the dem reps and senators need to release everything they’ve got, which isn’t much. Trump and co are so guilty, it’s so obvious, collusion, obstruction, money laundering. I can’t stand it.

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  52. Heather said on January 30, 2018 at 11:07 am

    Oh I’m not going to give up. But I think we need to look at reality and change our tactics. At this point I think we can’t count on the mid-term elections, because they’re going to be compromised–if they even happen.

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  53. beb said on January 30, 2018 at 12:13 pm

    Don’t forget Menards along with Home Depot and Lowes for having a conservative owner. Menards’ owner is also pretty shitty towards its employees.

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  54. Deborah said on January 30, 2018 at 1:50 pm

    I’m at the airport and upon leaving the hotel I started having a scintillating scotoma (visual aura) which told me I was going to get another migraine. And sure enough my head is throbbing again. Yes the airport experience is stressful but I know this latest Republican shenanigan isn’t helping.

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  55. Deborah said on January 30, 2018 at 2:29 pm

    Actually “shenanigan” makes it sound frivolous, it’s craven behavior.

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  56. Sherri said on January 30, 2018 at 3:11 pm

    Take care of yourself, Deborah. The resistance is a marathon, not a sprint, and we’ll still be here after you take a break to restore yourself.

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  57. Mark P said on January 30, 2018 at 3:23 pm

    I used dark granite for the countertops in the house I started around 1999 and never had a bit of trouble with them. Maintenance consisted of wiping with a damp cloth. In the house we built in 2015-2016 we used quartz, and I have to say I prefer the look of quartz. We bought our cabinets through Lowes. They had their installer come out and measure. When they installed the cabinets, one cabinet overlapped a light switch, and the refrigerator was a tight press fit in the fridge opening. They had no excuse, because the refrigerator was the only thing in the kitchen when they measured, and the light switch was sitting there staring them in the face.

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  58. Deborah said on January 30, 2018 at 5:04 pm

    Here’s one I had never heard before: they said our flight was delayed because it was a brand new plane and had never flown with passengers before and it wasn’t passing some test. It was supposed to leave at 12:10, then 1:30 and now 3:10 and they’ve taken that plane away from the gate. To be honest I’m not sure I’d want to fly on that plane. Plus we each got a $100 voucher for future travel. I hope the flight doesn’t get canceled altogether. They didn’t make an announcement about the voucher but my husband knew to ask. So we’ve been telling other people waiting. Also, with all the flying I’ve been doing, a flight delay like this hasn’t happened in a long time.

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  59. LAMary said on January 30, 2018 at 6:12 pm

    If I ever redo my kitchen, and lord knows it needs it, I want countertops made of the stuff they use in laboratories. That stuff is durable.

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  60. David C. said on January 30, 2018 at 6:26 pm

    When we were offered granite for our countertops they had a piece picked out that looked like macaroni and cheese vomit. I’m sure it was cheap. They wouldn’t allow us to pick another piece, so we went with Formica. We’re perfectly happy with that, although I like the idea of butcher block. We’re also throwbacks in that we insisted on white appliances. We’re sure stainless will go harvest gold soon. We’ve been waiting for probably 20 years.

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  61. Jakash said on January 30, 2018 at 6:30 pm

    For the enjoyment of the Bob Greene-mocking portion of the nn.c gang (95%, 99% ?), a current writer for the “Reader” (an alternative weekly in Chicago) extols the glory days of the “Bobwatch” column which was pseudonymously written by Neil Steinberg for a couple years in the mid-90s, and which ran in that publication. Taglined: “We read him so you don’t have to,” “Bobwatch” featured rollicking, brilliant take-downs of the Greene oeuvre, such as it was.

    The premise from the inaugural piece: “We pick up his column with a tingle of anticipation–how awful will it be? Will he content himself with another effortless sputtering of baby talk, lavished over one of his pitiful handful of themes and interests? Or will he reach some new benchmark of idiocy?”

    From the valedictory Bobwatch article in 1996:

    “He argued that Bob Dole was the real winner of the presidential election, because he gets to travel and be a celebrity and stay in nice hotels and he doesn’t have to write my colu- whoops, do any work. Clinton lost, because he must govern and that takes effort.

    Clearly, Bob would like to be in Dole’s shoes. He’d like to appear on Saturday Night Live, yukking it up with the cast, instead of churning out that daily column rooting around with the grim purpose of a junkie searching for an unscabbed bit of arm where he can jab the needle in.

    This laziness is the heart of Bob’s crime. Bill Mauldin was in his 5Os with two Pulitzers under his belt and he still hit the street, getting his nose broken for photographing illegally parked cars at a Daley family party. Bob is watching television. Bob is on a plane. Bob is in his hotel room, staring out the window. The only way Bob might break his nose is if Michael Jordan stops short one day and Bob rams it hard against his tailbone.”

    Anyway, this “Reader” piece is studded with links to explore, if one is so inclined.

    https://www.chicagoreader.com/Bleader/archives/2018/01/30/the-reader-helped-you-survive-bob-greene-and-it-will-help-you-survive-the-super-blue-blood-moon

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  62. Julie Robinson said on January 30, 2018 at 7:46 pm

    We put formica in our current Fort Wayne house as we’re already the most expensive house in the neighborhood. 15 years later the whole neighborhood is declining, so we’re happy we didn’t spend more. But our island is butcher block and I really love it. We found a piece that IKEA was closing out and picked it up cheap, mounted it on a kitchen cabinet and added casters, all for less than $200. The really cool thing is we had the butcher block cut, then added hinges so that either end can be brought up level with the rest. It’s great for parties.

    Another cool thing is happening at our Orlando home: our front yard is getting turned into a vegetable garden! The guy doing the work will be harvesting most of the veggies but we will be able to walk out and pick whatever we want. He’s going to try to raise all the food he needs for a whole year, at our place and others. Here’s a blog post from him: http://robgreenfield.tv/orlandotinyhome/

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  63. Deggjr said on January 30, 2018 at 8:33 pm

    This laziness is the heart of Bob’s crime.

    And now the crime of John Kass, a current columnist for the Chicago Tribune. Find one of his columns where he actually talked to somebody, that couldn’t have been written in an hour in his basement including a couple of drafts. There are a few but not many. That guy is lazy and smug.

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  64. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 30, 2018 at 8:55 pm

    Wait, no — not Menards?

    I have a big glass of Fisheye Cabernet Sauvignon with me, waiting for the SOTU. Or as I’m seeing on Twitter, the SOTFU. Great.

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