Monthly Archives: December 2007

We interrupt our regular programming for the writers’ strike

I’m the least political person in the world. Just not my thing. But when it comes to the Hollywood writer’s strike, heck yeah I have an opinion. The writers are right, and the AMPTP is a bunch of slimy bastards. I know, I know — you want your TV shows back. So do I, but guess what. This isn’t about me or about you (and really, we’ll do just fine without hours of TV every night). It’s about a bunch of people trying to make enough money to feed their families.

For a great explanation of the issues behind the strike, check out this FAQ:

http://www.unitedhollywood.com/crumb.html

My issue with the strike is why it’s happening at all. Imagine that competing companies General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford all sat down at the table together against the UAW. Collusion! Man, the government would be all over that. And yet, that’s exactly what’s happening in the writer’s strike. The AMPTP is a group of six competing giant media companies (plus about 350 smaller production companies). The strike would be settled already if the individual studios and networks were actually competing with each other, and negotiated with the WGA separately, the way the auto companies negotiate separately with the UAW.

Maybe we should be writing our congressmen and asking why they aren’t investigating the AMPTP for illegal collusion?

There may be one glimmer of hope. There’s a rumor that David Letterman’s production company is going to negotiate INDIVIDUALLY with the WGA. If so, then guess what. His writers and his staff can go back to work, and his show will be back on the air. See how simple? The network, of course, has the option to not air the shows, but Letterman just may have enough clout to pull this off. Letterman, if he sticks to his guns, may single-handedly end the strike.

Anyway, if Letterman doesn’t end the strike, and the AMPTP continues to refuse to negotiate, come spring, the networks are going to start filling their empty schedule with hastily thrown-together reality shows. May I suggest that you rent DVDs instead? If you watch those shows, you’re crossing the picket line and supporting the bad guys. Support the writers and their families.

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Step one in the Great Remodel

I warn you, the Alexander remodel is going to be a long project. A really long project. Like the rest of my life.

We had a basement guy come give a bid yesterday, and our contractor friend Todd came over last night. Basement guy wanted to channel and put in a sump pump. Todd suggested doing work outside the foundation to move the water away from the house. We like Todd’s suggestion for a couple of reasons. First, no sump pump to maintain, hear, or report when we sell the house. Second, because our house has never had this problem before, we agree that it occurred only because of the unprecedented, massive amount of water, and so a good system for directing water well away from the house should take care of the problem. The first guy’s solution channels the water IN to the sump pump, so if it stops working, we’re hosed.

Drawbacks to Todd’s plan are that it’s more expensive (more labor-intensive) and because it requires digging channels outside our foundation, our deck is toast. The deck is rotting away under our feet anyway though, so we were going to have to replace it anyway. It isn’t top of our priority list, though, and without it, we’re rather limited in options for getting in and out of the house. As in, we can’t.

Todd and his wife Kalisa spent a good while walking around our house with us, and then we went out to dinner. They had lots of good information about what we could and couldn’t (or shouldn’t) do. They also told us about a plan that our electric company has to replace all the doors and windows in the house for such a low price and easy terms that they’re using it for their place – it’s cheaper than Todd-the-contractor could do!! So we’ll probably hop right on that, just to improve the LOUSY energy efficiency of this place.

Todd and Kalisa said first thing we do is figure out what we want. That’s really much harder than it sounds, because I don’t know everything that’s out there, don’t know the cool things that could really make the place work, and don’t have an eye for design. But I’m willing to give it a try. Jay and I are working on lists of what spaces we need and what we need from those spaces, and I am delving into books and magazines to look for ideas.

Jay asked for priorities this morning. I want a bid from Todd for drainage around the house and in the horses’ dry lot. May also roll in some electrical and plumbing work into that, since he’ll have the digging equipment here. If the bid is doable, that’s our top priority. Now, that said, that doesn’t mean we’ll be doing it right away. We have to be able to pay for it first. Jay is looking into refinancing right now, but I’m hesitant to take on more debt. Sure is tempting though!!!

That outside work also doesn’t remodel our basement. I’m betting that we’re out of there for at least a year. Is that doable? In my opinion, yeah. Inconvenient, but doable. Oh well, I’ll keep you apprised.

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Rain = flooding

We live on a ridge about 300 feet above Cherry Valley, a spur off of Snoqualmie Valley, through which runs the Snoqualmie river. Needless to say, we’re not in a flood plain, and we considered it pretty unlikely that our property would flood. Well, we didn’t count on the water table rising high enough to cause leakage in our basement.

Monday morning, in the midst of a storm that dropped roughly six inches of rain, I walked through Jay’s office and felt the carpet squish. Uh oh. We spent a long, frustrating day sucking up water with a shop vac and then toting the water out in buckets — up and down the stairs for HOURS. And in the end, it was still a losing battle. Because of our efforts, it didn’t get very deep, but we lost the carpets in Jay’s office and the den.

I was not a happy person.

My office moved to the kitchen. I’m using the kitchen table as a desk, Jay’s office chair as a desk chair, and my big chair was brought up so Jay could sit in here and see his wife occasionally.

Our guest bedroom was converted into Jay’s office. The bed has been dismantled and is leaning against the wall. He brought up a table and his computer from the basement. He also put the TV and the Wii in there. He did not bring the rest of the entertainment center, and the TV is not hooked up to the satellite anymore. In fact, he’s canceling satellite TV for the foreseeable future. Good thing I am down to only four shows or so, and I can download those to my computer. I can watch DVDs on my computer too.

We packed the “stuff” in the office and the den, and then had two guys come out and move everything from the basement to the mezzanine level. Then the same guys helped us cut the carpet to pieces and move it out to be hauled away. The basement is bare and empty except for a little stuff in the well room and the junk room, which didn’t flood.

Next step is to have a basement sealant company come in and look at it. We had actually already planned to remodel the basement; this just moves the timetable up a bit. What that remodel looks like, however, depends on the sealant company and what they guarantee. If they can guarantee that next time the water table rises, our basement won’t flood, we’ll remodel and make it a usable space. If not, then I no longer consider the basement to be usable living space, and so we can wait and just do basic remodel — cheap carpet and paint — before we sell the house, some time in the future.

In the meantime — which translates to months and months, if not years — we have no guest room or eating area. Just offices. I suppose that’s a problem only as far as having my mom come visit, because there’s nowhere for her to stay here, and the nearest hotel is at least 45 minutes away. Other than my mom, it’s just a convenient excuse for me not to have people come over!

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