Thank whatever deities there may be for the Reagan era policies in Central America. Without that intervention, Guatemala and El Salvador may have blossomed into Costa Rica style democracies and we'd never have cheap on-demand labor in most larger towns.
On Saturday morning I picked up the truck and drove the long way down through San Rafael, along West Francisco Boulevard, and stopped for the first guy who managed to get in a place where he could hop in the passenger's seat. The truck had bucket seats, so I could only get one helper, alas, but we managed to communicate that his name was Julio, and that while I had utterly no Spanish, and his English was "un pequito", which apparently is Spanish for "not a fucking word". At any rate, it was fairly clear that gestures would work for most things, and I don't know if he ever understood that I offered him $12/hr, but he seemed okay with it.
Being absolutely horrible with names, I thought about things I could associate with "Julio", and of course came up with Iglesias, which I tied to "To All The Girls I've Loved Before". Seemed like an obvious tie-in, except, of course, that when I thought about that song I thought of Willie Nelson first, which meant that it didn't work nearly as well as a mnemonic as I'd hoped.
So we got to the house and started packing stuff in the truck. The first major hiccup came when we tried to move a large workbench that I'd built on rollers. The house on Mountain View Ave had two steps coming off the walk to the driveway, and we were having a hell of a time lifting the bench up the steps. I was trying to communicate to him that he should just leave that end down, so that we didn't have to stabilize the tipping aspects, somehow that didn't happen, and the whole thing fell over, trapping my hand in a door and leaving some bruises that are still painful.
So we went and had lunch, came back up and continued to pack. Charlene arrived, and the truck filled.
Then came getting the truck out of the driveway.
I backed the truck in to the straight section, got going, got mid-way up the hill when a wheel started slipping. So I backed off on the accelerator, the automatic transmission didn't give me enough control to regain traction, so I started to back down the hill. That's when the wheels locked up, and no amount of pumping the brake would unlock them as I slid down the hill towards either the drop-off that'd roll the truck over to my left, or the house, behind.
Completely out of my control, the truck stopped with only minimal damage to the basil cage. We all wandered around for a little while, trying to let our heart rates get back to normal, and then decided to clear everything we could out of the driveway. So we unpacked rakes and shovels and went to work, I backed up and tried again.
Everyone well out of the way. As much of a running start as I could get. Mid-way up the driveway, I lost traction again. Stand on the brake. Sit there and breathe for a moment, the truck doesn't seem to be moving, and there, in the rear view mirrors, comes Julio, booking up the driveway with a monster rock that he shoves under one of the rear wheels.
Remember Reagan foreign policy? Yeah, any American would say "fuck that, $12/hr ain't enough for me to risk my ass", but not a Guatemalan with questionable immigration status.
Somehow we managed to get the truck up the hill, but I had another scary incident with the brakes, and when we got the truck to Petaluma and unloaded we parked it and decided that there was no way in hell we were doing another run with that truck.
Long about 7PM I ran Julio back to the Canal district, and Phil and Kelly treated us to salad, lasagna, and pineapple upside down cake. It was awesome.
On Sunday neither of us wanted anything to do with the truck, so we examined our options, and eventually borrowed a truck from John which made the trip up and down the driveway, fully loaded twice, with no problems (once for a dump run). Which led to two realizations:
- Local rental trucks, no matter which vendor they're from, always suck.
The new house
The refinished white oak floors look amazing. We need to replace the baseboards, we're currently looking around for various options. The old baseboards were 5/8", which seems to be a standard size on the east coast, but west coast baseboards are paper thin. We're trying to find a solution for hardwood baseboards that doesn't require shipping them from Ohio.
Haven't yet got the callback from the electrician who's supposed to put in the new panel and new drop. Based on some broken socket issues we had when we painted the living room, we got new sockets for the whole house (got a good deal on 'em), and 250' of Romex, we need a strategy for replacement, so I need to do some poking around in the attic to figure out how things lie.
I bought 225 board feet of maple scraps in 5' lengths off of Craigslist, should be delivered this afternoon, we were initially planning on using it for baseboards, but this Saturday we went out looking at cabinets at various kitchen showrooms and think that if we can mill the faces right (it'll require some interesting router jigs) we want to make the cabinet faces out of solid maple. So there goes that maple.
And we need a better arrangement for a cupboard, and a work surface beside the stove.
For maintenance sake, we need to replace the bathroom vanity shortly with something that we can get in beside to clean.
We're looking at new lower water use toilets.
The plumbing appears to be all be on the common wall between the kitchen and the bathroom, and it's got to be less than 20 feet between there and the hot water heater in the garage, but it seems to take forever for the hot water to get to the sinks.
In our search for cabinets and possibilities for new toilets, we ran into a little pump with a thermostat that you put between the hot and cold water feed on your furthest out fixture, the brand name is "Metlund D'Mand". Press a button, it cycles the water from hot to cold 'til the water hits the right temperature.
No more running the water down the drain 'til the hot water gets there, and the default kit comes with a wireless button, so in our fantasies we were thinking that we'd put this device on the bathroom sink hookups, wire buttons in the kitchen and bathroom, and put the wireless one next to the bed, so getting up and going for the shower in the morning is that much more appealing.
However, when I started doing the "which features" walk up through various pricing options, I realized that we were getting close to a tankless, and that we may be able to install one of those in the crawl space. That led me to a whole other level of exposing my ignorance about such technologies.