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Days 2 and 3 The success of this home improvement adventure is really based in having talented, experienced, and in some cases professionally qualified volunteers on the job. Friday night I spent much of the time playing gopher and doing project management for the friends and family that joined us. I ran back and forth getting paint rollers, canvas and ladders for the folks working on painting the bedroom, while sneaking off to the kitchen to make decisions regarding wiring and outlet placement. At first, I felt guilty of being the least productive person in the house. Over here people paint, over there they scrape and clean, and I run back and forth between them making sure that everyone has what they need, but not actually doing any real work myself. I have become management. Disconnected and out of touch from the real working class of 60 South Glenwood Avenue. I am, for all practical intents and purposes, "the man". Saturday was back to real, hands-dirty, manual labor, fortunately. I returned to my roots just in time, and picked up a paint roller. It has become more and more evident and we really have NO IDEA WHATSOEVER what we are doing. Friday night we were preparing to spackle, and Joe corrected us. We need to prime first, then spackle, then paint. So Saturday morning Bridget and I primed. The living room has undergone a major structural change now. The walls are made almost entirely of joint compound. Joint compound is like grey chalky peanut butter (smooth, not chunky-style) that hardens to fill any cracks or holes you may find in your walls before painting. Because there is only bare plaster that, I suppose, is as old as the house (60+ years), and it was wallpapered over and never spackled before, the job feels like trying to take the SAT's using a putty knife instead of a #2 pencil. Fill in the little holes just right, over and over again. Only in the SAT's once you finish it, you are done. You don't have to sand it and do the whole thing again tomorrow. While the majority of the priming is the repair of small grooves and nail holes, there are a few large sections that require "building up" with joint compound. Again, if I was not instructed in the ways of spackle, by Mark Tindall, who was in attendance Saturday evening to assist, I would have done this entirely incorrectly. My finely tuned instincts told me that if there is a big hole, and you have a bucket full of compound to fill that hole, then the logical solution is to take the joint compound from the bucket and put it in the hole. I would be totally wrong though. The correct technique is to apply the thinnest layer imaginable to the hole, and also to a good section of the wall around the hole to blend it in. Each layer needs to be sanded down and then covered again, until the holes are filled and everything is flush with the wall. As our spackling job nears completion, I was looking forward to finally getting paint up on the wall (after all, we've primed, we've spackled, what else is there?) Last night as we were leaving church Mark mentioned to us "you are going to prime again before you paint that spackle right?" Umm..yes. Of course. Thats what we were planning on doing. There was a large mirror over the fire place that we removed. It was not very attractive. No frame or anything, just a huge piece of glass the width of the mantle, with mounting brackets on all sides. Behind this mirror we discovered the largest single mold growth I have ever seen in my life. At first I thought it was just the old green paint behind the mirror, but then I realized that it was a little fuzzier than that. The entire surface area of the wall that was covered by the mirror was layered in a thick green carpet. I would have left it there as a novelty or conversation piece, but the color doesn't match our paint choices, and it was beginning to purr. I took my first lesson in electrical work this week from my friend Lauren. My initial impression is that electrical work is about 75 percent carpentry. Cutting holes in finished walls, while trying to minimize damage and the subsequent repair (see joint compound comments about) is as tricky a job as any wiring we are doing. After further investigation into the state of the wiring around the house, I've decided to rewire the entire house, one room at a time, after we move in. This could be because I am clinically insane, but I think it will be worth it. In addition to noticing that there is not a single grounded outlet in the entire house, I discovered that in the room we are planning on designating the television and videogame room, there are a grand total of zero outlets. Zero, as in less than one. And because none of the outlets we do have are grounded, we are collecting a sizeable stash of those adapters that take a normal, healthy, well adjusted 3-prong plug and turn them into out of date, more dangerous, house-fire inducing 2-prong plugs. This would not be as big a problem for the occasional alarm clock or small appliance, but these things are on everything in the house. The fridge, dishwaher, every work light we use, or tool is connected with the same type of adapter. So after we complete the kitchen wiring, and get all moved in, I'll be making the rounds and cutting new holes in all the freshly painted walls. Why are you looking at me like that? Stop laughing. Home Depot Update and Shopping Tips 1. If you don't go to Home Depot at least twice in a work day, you are not working hard enough. 2. The more simple the item you are looking for, the longer it will take to find it. For example: drills and reciprocating saws are very easy to find. They have their own department, easily marked. Trash bags, on the other hand, do not. I wandered back and forth across the whole store twice, looking for that one little end of row display that had big trash bags. Eventually I had to break all sorts of guy laws and ask someone at the counter where they were. I may some day live down the shame and humiliation I endured for this, but not today. 3. Why is there a section of Home Depot marked "Hardware"? Isn't the whole store full of hardware? Do they sell software? Firmware? Flatware? Menswear? Swimwear? No. The Home Depot sells hardware. Imagine going into your favorite supermarket and seeing a single aisle, among all others, with a big sign that reads "Groceries Here." Walking into HD and looking for the hardware section is like going to a Star Trek convention and asking "where are the nerds?" 4. I guess that last one really wasn't a tip, was it? 5. I met a very friendly and helpful man in the tool department. They were, unfortunately, sold out of the drill I wanted, and he suggested another highly reccomended, if unheard of by me, brand of drill. Originally I was skeptical of being up-sold into a more expensive tool, but the price listed was identical to the model I originally requested, so I bought it. All was well until last night as Bridget was looking over our collection of Home Depot receipts, she noticed that the price I paid for it was actually $50 more than what the sticker said. More on that as it develops. 6. We officially crossed the first $1,000 threshold at HD Saturday evening. This includes buying a $100 giftcard to keep handy for emergencies and sending other people to the store. I'm sure we're good for another $100 at least tonight in merchandise.

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