How time flies… it’s been two weeks since I posted, for which I apologize, but things have been a bit on the busy/crazy side.

When I last wrote, I’d just had the fun of having an electrical outlet attempt to catch on fire during some routine electrical work. Since then, I’ve gotten to know my electricians very well, and about half the house has had its switches and outlets replaced, and I’ve had my service box upgraded from the original 60 amp fuse box to a new 200 amp service box with modern circuit breakers and everything; and along the way, it’s got the ability to add solar power and a car charger already configured in. I also have an insurance claim in against the homeowners for the service box replacement and we’re working with them on that.

And we’re not done. Friday I sat down with the master electrician to go over the house circuits and the safety and code problems that we dug up during the service upgrade and mapped out a plan to to bring the house up to what we need (and to code). So, Monday the electricians arrive again for what we expect is another week of work, which includes adding in 20 amp circuits in my office and Laurie’s office, a new circuit out on the back patio, and one in the study where the outlet caught fire to replace the circuit that blew up on us. And, because it was wired by insane chimpanzees on codeine (as far as I can tell), we’re completely rewriting the garage and adding four new circuits there, and cleaning up various messes. We’re also doing some work to get us ready for the later kitchen and bathroom remodels, where we have some minor code issues we’ll need to resolve when we decide to brave those projects.

By the end of the week, I’ll have enough power in the house where I need it and everything will be brought up to code (and under permit and inspected), the garage won’t be scary, the patio will have it’s own power, not something tapped off a patio light on a circuit already heavily loaded (because it’s driving my office and other stuff), I’ll have a new ceiling fan in the office, I’ll have power for the (soon to be shopped for) treadmill in the study dedicated power for the workbench and for the utility bench in the laundry, and everything will be upgraded to three hold plugs — in other words, the house will finally be ready for this century and not the 70’s. By the time I’m done zI think we’ll be in for about 2 and a half weeks of sharing the place with electricians and about $25K in work, but it’ll be worth it, and I won’t need to think about this stuff for another 20 years, and whoever gets this house next won’t be saying things about me the way I’ve been saying things about the previous owner (when I asked the master electrician how the permits were signed off when they added on to this place in the 70’s, he just rolled his eyes.. you could get away with a lot more back then than today)

Sounds like a lot of money? It is, but.. we’re upgrading some things that are actually still original to a 1956 house and simply worn out, and fixing some — shortcuts — they took when they built the addition in the 70’s. And I knew going in the electrical work would be the biggest single expense when I decided to start this, and it’s more or less in line with what I expected.

And once this is done… I’ll be calling in the plumbers, and then the painters… But it’s really important to make sure the bones are in good shape because it doesn’t matter how pretty the place is if it burns down because you didn’t fix the systems properly.

I’m also really happy to be solar ready, because exploring that is something I plan on doing in the next year or so…

Off to Morro Bay

Once we had the new service in place and everything cleaned up and working right, I packed my bags and headed off for a few days in Morro Bay. This trip was planned, but it was nice timing given the previous week or so of fun with the electricians. I’d originally planned on heading up into Washington and decided I wasn’t really interested in that much driving, so I instead gave myself four nights down in Morro Bay, with the goals of sleeping a lot, eating a lot of fish, relaxing and generally hanging out and seeing if anything interesting was going on.

The fish was good (thank you Great American Fish Company and Dutchman’s), the weather was nice (if blustery windy), but it’s summer so there was very little bird activity, so I spent most of the time down along the harbor near the rock where a raft of otters was hanging out; three of them were mom’s holding on to fairly large pups. I did spend some time with the cameras, but I also spent a lot of time with the iPad following WWDC and watching videos, and I have to say, that’s an extremely nice way to take in WWDC (although I think next year I might try to get to Layers or some of the alternative programming), and I spent on my hotel for four nights about what most WWDC attendees were spending for one night near Moscone. And otters! with pups! (I’m working on picture to come later)

I could have shifted up and gone to one of the near-WWDC activities, but this trip was always intended as a retreat. This is the one year anniversary of losing mom, and her death piles right on top of flag day, which was dad’s birthday and also the date we held his wake back in 2008, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to react, so I made sure I got myself out of my routine and off to a place where I could sit back, reflect and think my way through the last year and try to plan out my priorities and goals for the next year.

Think of it as a one person corporate planning offsite. I find it a useful way to break out of the day to day habits and routine and take a step back and think my way through everything and perhaps course correct. One thing coming out of that was that I’m just not comfortable on the exercise bike, which makes it too easy to not use it, and that I really prefer a treadmill — and with the electrical upgraded, I no longer have to worry about a treadmill being too heavy a draw for the house, so once we get the work done this week, I’ll go out and get one for the study and retire the bike.

Morro Bay is a nice, comfortable place for me. Quiet but with the kind of things I’m looking for when I want to relax: nice food and lots of outdoors to explore and enjoy. I’ve got a motel I’ve found and really like (the Best Western El Rancho) that is literally three minutes from the harbor and otters but a bit away from the tourists and (as they’re defined in Morro Bay) crowds. That area is cheaper than Pismo Beach (about 20 minutes south of here) and while it has the things you expect from a place that attracts tourists (like salt water taffy and T-shirt places) it’s a real place which is still about the residents and not one of those places that has gone all artificial. It’s still that place that if I ever decide to leave Silicon Valley is top of the list… And it’s full of birds and otters, sea lions, 20 minutes from the elephant seals, and one of these days, I swear I’ll get on that whale watching boat (which every trip I say I’ll do, and for some reason, I just sit and watch it head out every morning instead).

And it’s only about 3 and a half hours drive from home, so it doesn’t require a lot of planning. And it’s pretty literally half-way to mom’s place in SoCal, which is why I discovered it in the first place, since it became the rest and recovery place back when weekends involved driving to LA to help out mom and dad and my “weekend” became a couple of hours walking the harbor and a quick dinner on the drive home.

And now that the chaos of having the house full of craft with the power constantly popping on and off as we work on things is winding down, hopefully I can get back to a routine and get the writing going again…