Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Poison Ivy, a Broken Leg and Winter, yet we persist!

The adventurous do-it-yourselfer in me is learning the hard way.

God has his own timetable, and perhaps is pleased to look the other way as I make one big mistake after the other.

Take for instance the poison ivy. It seemed to me that I am strong enough to haul cut-down tree limbs. Too bad I'm not smart enough to realize that the urisol oil from the poison ivy that grows around the branches lasts far longer than the green turn-reddish fall leaves. Here are the results!

I appreciate the websites with crazy information on treating poison ivy.
I've since learned that TECNU can be used to wash off the oil.
My favorite suggestion was 'cover the area in dry portland cement!' Too late for me though - I had to drink SlimFast for 8 weeks to keep my weight down while I took prenisone, wrapped my arm in a cloth soaked in milk, and burned the rash each day in the shower to numb the pain for 20-30 minutes. I'll be more careful next year, eh?

Come winter, I began to clear the forest, well bundled of course against oily tree branches. Thank goodness for my contractor's son, who was close enough to hear me call out when the bone broke!
My husband claimed it was a sprained ankle. I twisted it hauling branches into neat piles. Five days later I saw the Xray of my broken fibula. Eight weeks in a cast, and I still can't walk right in heels. Thank goodness it was winter and I could use weather as an excuse for not working on the house.

Now mom is back in town calling for bids, we've got our Dream Team, and the weather has finally warmed enough to want to spend weekends on our flip house.

The US Airforce Provided our Dream Team

In house flipping, the experts tell us to find a dream team. So after weeks of calling contractor ad and phone book listings and receiving overpriced bids from arrogant experts, we posted an ad on Craiglist and within 2 days found 3 wonderful AirForce military men who have construction experience, and some free time after their work on base. We call them our dream team.

Tony has landscape experience from his hometown in Long Island. Chad has worked construction alongside family most his life. And Will, who answered the ad online is renovating his own home, and wants to learn electrical. Together, we're brainstorming each next step of the project, starting last week with gutters and this week with siding. They've joined us on Saturdays and some weekdays after they're done with their gunsmithing for uncle Sam.

If you've seen the house, you know that we're all learning on the job. Will has a book on electrical wiring, and yes, we'll have the electrical inspected by a licensed 'expert'. But why pay an expert $65 an hour to drop lines from the attic into the walls and hook up outlets. We can do that.

We also feed 'em on the job which sometimes costs more than what they're being paid per hour!And they can bring their dog, or kids, chew and even drink beer while they are participating in their contract 'internship' in construction.
Grandpa says he don't think men will like working for women. These men seem not to mind at all. And we may even finish this house.

Many thanks to Uncle Sam!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Does a bi-modal distribution mean my I'm lousy at presenting?

The feedback is in on my April keynote presentation, and it's not good. My supposed-to-be innovative presentation with origami, game choices, voting paddles, internet links and group activities was loved by some but hated by more. I had a sinking feeling the presentation had belly-flopped (maybe it was the way folks ran from the room) but I wasn't sure until the data came in today. 20% Excellent, 20% Good 20% OK and 20% Poor. And lots of comments to back up those ratings. Yikes!

The nicest remarks received were, "it looks like you did a lot of preparation" and "you'd be fun at a party". Everyone has an off day, so was it necessary for one participant to remark about my "grating voice" or claim "I would rather have a gun to my head". There goes any aspiration I may have had as a keynote, comic or motivational speaker. At least the photographer captured a nice shot at dinner.

So what did I learn? Keep it simple, limit humor, use more photos, fewer links and yes, it's hard to engage 180 listeners in an interactive session when you're as distractable as I am. I think I should stick with the smaller groups, fewer slides, more photos and conversation thank you. With intimate groups at least I can see the white of their eyes before they roll back into their head.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Grandpa Bernie hasn't yet seen the Flip House

Daughter Elisabeth calls it 'flip college' since we started the project a year ago, and haven't finished it yet. Grandpa Bernie was a general contractor in his day. He's 87 and visiting this month with mom so we'll want his advice on fixing up our investment.

Mom and I launched into renovating the house by securing a car loan to purchase the property outright (a loan on my daughter's car and yes, we asked her first).

We then re-graded the lot to eliminate the drainage problem. We stripped the damp carpet and moldy drywall, and jackhammered the floor to put in new plumbing and drain pipes. Our carpenter Juan pulled down the concrete patio addition and replaced it with a 19x12 room which we'll make into the new kitchen, turning the house from 2bd 1ba to 3bd 2ba.

With the window and door replacements, the back bedroom is now legal (legal window egress). Juan still thinks it's funny that mom and I run the project (not my plumber husband). Juan makes sure I don't talk too much to his wife Rosa or give her any ideas! Anyhow, with the rain and wind, Grandpa Bernie still hasn't seen the house. It's on a steep gravel road, From the top of the hill you can see across the river to the next state. We'll wait for the mud to dry.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Sparticus is a Boxer-Doodle

At a craft fair in Missouri, Sparticus, who hadn't yet been named, popped his head out of the box and came to me. He was one of 10 OOPs puppies from a Labradoodle breeding farm. Apparently the Poodle got out and mixed with a boxer. The ten puppies as evidence were being sold at a craft fair for $30 a piece. I bought one and gave one to my contractor Juan and his family.

What does a boxer doodle look like as a puppy? As a grown dog? Here is a photo I found online if a boxer doodle family, and ones I've taken. A boxer-doodle is a mix of a Boxer and standard Poodle. Now that Sparticus is several months old, I realize just how large he'll become.

With the smarts of a poodle and the muscular build of a boxer, he looks like neither, but has such a playful disposition. My two Scottie dogs had no surprise what they were in for last September. He was so small then!

White Pelicans in Nebraska April 2008

Here is a photo taken the first weekend in April 2008 just south of Omaha Nebraska. The first Pelican arrived and swam near a large group of cormorants. More joined until hundreds covered the lake. The next day it snowed large flakes that fell onto the ground and covered Sparticus' coat of fur. Last year, a group of about 12 Pelicans arrived around Easter. This year there were many many more. Having lived here for 14 years and I'd never seen one. Global warming?

PearlFlipper's First Post

I've been reading and some of these books have been out for decades. Where have I been? Check out Flow and Cluetrain Manifesto and Learning is Fun. I had something to say as a Keynote on Innovation and Training last week - mostly about the importance of Flow and our ability to bring joy into people's worklives. I read and ordered props and made a spiffy linked PowerPoint. The mic squelched and muffled and I found myself rambling on stage. I almost forgot the drawing and didn't remember to explain what the mood rings were for. Thank goodness the YouTube video played. Now I'm waiting for the evals.