Sunday, October 17, 2010

This Winter Is Going To Be A Bad One.....

.....Or so I hear.

So over the past couple of weeks I've heard a couple of people say that this winter is going to be a bad one. The reason that I'm writing about this today is for two reasons. The frequency with which this statement has been thrown around lately has piqued my interest and if, in fact, this winter will be a bad one then I would like to take advantage of the Les Schwab fall tire sale right now.

Now, since new tires are riding on this, I need to know if the winter will be bad or not. It's a gamble because I don't have the cash for new tires. If there really is a need then I will pony up (plastic style) for them, but if this winter is like last winter, then there is no need. Of course, if it's like two winters ago, I'll buy them right away.

My current tires are about 45,000 miles old but they're still in fair shape. They are Toyo Open Country H/T tires and According to Les Schwab they should be good for 60,000. They are not fantastic on wet roads, but I am a very conservative driver. I like to keep that following distance nice and wide. But having old tires eats away at my safety margin, so even though I try to compensate with safe driving, my overall safety margin is decreased. I feel them slip more than I would like.

So now that you know what the current situation is, I return to the question at hand. Is this winter going to be bad or not?

If we were to base the coming season on the current season there would be enough evidence to say that we risk a bad winter. This summer was unusually rainy and cold (yes, even for western Washington). But wait, last winter wasn't bad, so using this logic the summer should have been nice. As I said, two winters ago was bad (very bad-I'm talking paid leave from work, people stranded in their homes, etc.), and that was followed by a nice warm summer. I don't think this argument is going to fly.

What about heresay? Are there some old folks that have lived in these parts for decades that can just tell when bad weather is coming? Or is it just nonsense that was born in rumors?

How do I find out if it's worth throwing down a big pile of fake greenbacks right now?

Saturday, October 02, 2010

In Over Your Head

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you were in over your head? I did recently.

Today a friend was over helping me with my current project and while we were discussing it with Chelsea he jokingly asked, "How can you tell if your husband is in over his head?" "Answering out of turn, I said, Look out the window." Today I felt overwhelmed with the project.

The project I'm referring to is my crawlspace improvement project that is now in its fifth month. More particularly, though, today I was working on the drain that I needed to install between my crawlspace and the storm drain at the street. Getting this drain is was a key project milestone. Since the rainy weather is upon me, I can't really continue my work in the crawlspace without having a place for the water to go. The trenches that I've already dug down there are filling with water during the rains, so in order to continue I had to complete this step.

Unfortunately the project is turning out like I hoped it wouldn't. In the early stages it was going slow and I joked with Chelsea that at the rate it was going it would be done by winter. It looks like I'm not far off.

So, getting the drain in was a key event, but it was also the part of the project that I most underestimated. You see, I had to tie the drain line into another drain line that is buried somewhere in my front lawn. I had a guess where it was, but no firm knowledge. So, armed with nothing more than a vague idea, I set to, armed with my shovel, pic, and digging bar (priceless). After two evenings and a Saturday I had a fair sized hole in my yard accompanied by a pretty good trench. But I had not found the pipe I needed, and the trench still required more depth (which also required digging under the foundation to place the pipe). I decided I wanted to put this phase to bed, so I bit the bullet and brought in reinforcements-in the form of a small John Deere backhoe. Now I was ready to inflict some serious damage to my yard.

Using the backhoe I enlarged the hole to around four times it original size, but still didn't find the pipe. Then I moved to the backup plan which was to continue the trench. I did that, but gingerly since there were now utilities in the area. After digging some more I found a large gravel bed that seemed bottomless. Gravel beds like this don't occur naturally. After doing some testing we determined that this gravel bed actually drained out where we wanted to tie this pipe into anyway, so we decided to just drain the pipe to it instead.

Anyway, the pipe is in and partially covered with dirt. The backfill will continue over the next few days. I am very relieved to have the pipe in, but there were some tense moments along the way. Like when I couldn't find the pipe and I had to decide where in my yard to dig up next. Or knowing that I would have to start digging over utility lines.

But now the pipe is in. My back, hands, and feet are dealing with the pain of a job well done. I don't often get to work like this, but it feels good when I do. The stress of not knowing whether I'm making the right project decisions makes it bittersweet in the middle of the process, but that goes away once the problem is resolved.

I guess the point is that it may not be a bad thing to bite off more than you can chew from time to time. Being in over your head makes to struggle to find the answers and when it's all said and done, you are wiser for experience and you have completed what you set out to do in the first place.