Thursday, February 22, 2007

Quick Floor Update

I have a few photographs, but no time to post right now.

The floor is down in the kitchen and dining room. I need to glue down the very last row where the boards cross the threshold from the kitchen into the entry hallway. The underlayment boards in the hallway are ever-so-slightly higher than in the kitchen, so I can't glue down that last row until some compensation is made. I'm considering planing down the edge of the higher surface so the floor will lay flat without any stress, but that last row will be angled upward very slightly.

I still have to lay down the floor in the entry hallway, but it's very square, about 12-15 boards, and I think it will take only a couple of hours.

I need to buy all the floor molding to go where the floor joins ends in open spaces, especially the doorways but also at the step-downs into the family room and the garage. And I haven't figured out the front door yet. I already bought one piece that will join the wood in the entry hallway to the carpet in the main hallway. My intention was to shop for those transition pieces today, but the rain and cold is leaving me unmotivated to get out.

Mary has already painted all of the wall molding, but we need to cut it to fit with the miter saw, putty over the joints, and touch up the paint. Handyman Hank suggested doing it that way instead of nailing it to the wall first, then painting. My back hurts just thinking about doing it that way.

We aren't going to finish all the trim until next week, because we'll be at a dance this weekend. And we need to leave on the heat this weekend because the floor needs to remain above 65 degrees for 48 hours after installation.

Rough summary of the work so far:
  • 1 day to remove the old linoleum flooring from the kitchen
  • 1 day to remove the tile and sand down the glue in the hallway
  • 1.5 days to install the new plywood underlayment
  • 3 days so far to lay down the new floor, with one more day to go

Oh, Mary started a new job this week! Which, as far as the floor is concerned, means that I've been working on it by myself, which is OK because you can really only lay one piece at a time, so two people doesn't necessarily mean faster. But it also means I may get stuck with doing the finishing work, a more artistic endeavor that Mary is more suited for. We'll see what happens next week. And more about Mary's new job later ...

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Floor Update #2

Today we made much more progress than we expected to. We didn't even start until about 6 pm. By midnight we had pulled up the entire kitchen floor. Mary took this photo of me after the first hour when we'd already torn up about 1/3 of the floor:

You can see the old linoleum on the left side of the photo, and the subfloor on the right side.

Shortly after this, my brother Craig came over with another shovel, crowbars, and other tools. First he helped us move the oven into the living room and the dishwasher into the garage. We were a little worried about the dishwasher because it had a solid copper pipe as its hot water supply. We were worried that in moving the dishwasher we might break the pipe. But the copper is pretty flexible and it gave just enough. We did have to turn off the hot water to the kitchen sink, however, so tomorrow we may be looking for a compression fitting cap at Lowe's.

We pulled up all the nails in the floor, then got down to pulling up the remaining 2/3 of the floor. By midnight we were done, and it was time for margaritas. Here is a photo of Craig and Mary after a blender full:

Tomorrow, it looks like we will be breaking up the ceramic tile in the entrance hallway. Some of it broke when we pulled up the kitchen floor. We have to make sure we have enough flooring for the hallway too, or we'll have to buy some more flooring. Right now, after a few margaritas, the math side of my brain isn't working properly, so we'll save that until tomorrow. We may also take the old floor to the dump tomorrow ... Milpitas has one of two free dump days tomorrow if it isn't raining. We also need to pick up the replacement pressboard at Lowe's, which will be difficult if it is raining. In any case, we hope to start laying the new floor on Monday.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Floor Update

Today we moved the refrigerator out of the kitchen into the family room. Then Mary made a huge pot of soup while I worked on pulling up all the thresholds and the vinyl edge molding. The strategy is that Mary will make up a week's worth of food that we can microwave piecemeal while the stove is out of commission. I wanted to start cutting out the floor today, but Mary doesn't want all the linoleum dust flying around while she is cooking.

We still have a fair bit to do before we can really get down to it:
  • Pull the stove and dishwasher out of the kitchen.
  • Make some test measurements to figure out whether we need to cut the first row of boards narrow.
  • Test the table saw we set up yesterday.
  • Set up the compound miter saw.
We hope to do all this tomorrow, and start tearing out the old floor.

Before we finish, we'll have these issues to address:

- There is ceramic tile on the floor in the entrance hallway. It is glued over hardwood. We're thinking seriously of putting the new laminate floor in that hallway as well. We'll have to pull up the ceramic tile, and it may be difficult to do so without damaging the hardwood floor underneath. Even though we don't intend to use that hardwood floor, it would be nice to preserve it as a future option or for future owners of the house.

- We still have to buy pressboard to put on top of the subfloor and underneath the laminate floor. They don't sell it at Orchard Supply, and the gentleman there suggested we buy it at Lowe's, since what they have at Home Depot is supposedly of inferior quality. But it has been raining and we don't want a new purchase of wood to get wet, as it'll have to dry completely before we can install it. And we won't really know what the pressboard looks like or how it is installed until we remove the old one. So we'll probably have to pull out the old first, then pause to consider the next step.

- We'll need wood or fiberboard molding to replace the old vinyl molding. Mary will probably paint it to match the walls while I'm working on the floor. But some of the molding will go underneath cabinets and it should have an oak veneer to match or complement the cabinets. So we'll have to go shopping for two different kinds of molding before the floor is completely stable and the job done. But I don't want the lack of molding in-hand to block progress tearing out the old floor.

Happy Birthday, Mary!

It was Mary's birthday yesterday. We were together all day. First we went shopping for quilt fabric at Fabrics 'n' Fun, our local quilting store in Milpitas. Mary got a discount on some items because it was her birthday, and other items were discounted because the store is moving soon and they are reducing inventory. Mary bought fabric for a quilt she is working on, plus she found fabric to start another quilt. She is making these interesting quilts called Nine-Patch Pizzazz. We also signed up for a Log Cabin class in April, and we bought the fabric since it was on sale: 20 dark fat quarters, and 20 light fat quarters. We are going to take the class together but we are going to work together on one quilt.

After we came home Mary made a neat get-well card for David Brandt, who cut his thumb with a rotary cutter while working on a quilt. I'm afraid of rotary cutters although they are a necessary evil. Anyway, David and Kathleen loved the card and it got a lot of attention on Split Coast Stampers. It is made on a background of duct tape, has a duck on it, and contained a package of duct tape band-aids we found at Orchard Supply Hardware.

Later in the afternoon, we went to another quilting store in Cambrian Park, where Mary picked up a missing fabric that the owner of Fabrics 'n' Fun called around a located for her. Then we went to our new favorite sushi restaurant, I Love Sushi in San Jose at the corner of Hamilton and Meridian. (I thought they had a web site, but right now I can't find it or their business card.) Since Sushi Lovers has been closed during the reconstructed of Milpitas Town Center, we've found nowhere else that warranted repeat business, until now. We've been going to I Love Sushi every Wednesday before church.

Calvary Chapel San Jose has been doing a Wednesday night video series called the Truth Project, about the basics of the Christian faith. Since that series ended, they'll run a short series about creation and evolution. The first was Unlocking the Mystery of Life, which presents the case for Intelligent Design. I'd already seen the video previously in another class, but it was new for Mary, and she liked it. We don't know what's coming next, but it will have something to do with science or animals, and the ad-hoc series will continue through February.

When we got home, we had my famous extra-strong homemade margaritas, which weakened our inhibitions to the point where we ate everything in sight (mostly tortilla chips, cheddar cheese, and pistachios) and pretty much blew our chances of a decent weigh-in at WW on Thursday morning. Oh well, birthdays don't come along that often ...

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

I'll be your handy man

Mary and I are taking a Handyman/Handywoman course through Milpitas Adult Education. She wanted me to take the class because I've been so afraid to put the new floor in. Build up my self-confidence or something. And learn how to do it herself just in case she tired of twisting my arm.

Hank the handyman is a licensed California contractor, number blah blah blah blah blah, etc. You can look it up. He is a funny guy. Gives us a ten-minute project to do in class, then takes a cigarette break while we struggle with it. So far, we put together an 18-inch box from 2x4's and drywall to simulate a real interior wall, punched holes in it for an outlet, a switch, and a light fixture, wired them up in a couple different ways and actually plugged them into the wall. Last week we started a module on drywall repair, but since the stuff had to dry, that module had to be put on hold until this week while we started the plumbing module, which started with a quick exposure to black pipe (used for gas plumbing) but then went into the more routine water plumbing with a description of copper pipe, etc.

We've had to buy about $100 worth of various hand tools like pliers, wire strippers, and putty knives, all of which will be worthwhile in the future, if not at the moment. Well, except for the cheap-a** wire strippers; the kind used by electricians are junk compared to the springy electronical kind they sell at Frys.

When we visited Mary's dad in Portland last week, we found the plumbing under his kitchen sink a leaky mess. I volunteered to fix it while he and Mary were running other errands. I impressed both him and Mary with my skill at doing exactly what the hardware store guy told me needed to be done. There were just some gasket thingies missing from the garbage disposal drain; I didn't know what they were called, and I still don't, because I bought half a dozen of them in plastic bags unmarked except for the price of 59 cents. So I got to be a hero for a day. I was just hoping it would stop leaking until Mary and I got on the plane and out of there!

Floor Progress

If you were following my earlier blog on, you know that way back in October of 2005 we bought some laminate flooring to put in our kitchen. Yes, it has been sitting in boxes underneath the grand piano for over a year. We've finally got down to doing something with it.

Of course, our $500 job has turned into more like a $1000 job with the table saw and compound miter saw we bought yesterday. At least we'll have some nice tools to show for it when we're done. That is, Mary will have some nice tools to show for it ... it is her birthday tomorrow, and she asked for the miter saw as a birthday present. I think the intention is that with tools in hand, she can put me to work indefinitely. Humbug!

We have to take out three layers of linoleum before we can install the new floor. Several people we've talked to, including Hank the Handyman who is teaching the Handy-person class we're taking, have suggested that we take out the pressboard underneath the linoleum, stripping down all the way to the tongue-and-groove subfloor. The advantage is that the pressboard is nailed or stapled to the subfloor and will come out easily. The disadvantage is that we'll have to replace the pressboard. The alternative is that we'd have to keep the existing pressboard intact, but remove the linoleum that is firmly glued to it.

Also, the consensus is that a good way to remove the old floor is to take a circular saw to it, with the blade depth set just deep enough to cut through the vinyl and pressboard but not into the subfloor. We can cut the floor into long strips or small squares. I'm leaning toward small squares because they can be tossed into the trash bin. But Mary favors cutting as little as possible because she wants as little linoleum dust as possible. Can't blame her.

We've actually moved the family room furniture and the china cabinet into the living room and most of the dining room furniture into the family room so we can still use it. We haven't moved the refrigerator, dishwasher, or stove out of the kitchen yet. We hope to leave the stove in there as long as possible, until it's actually necessary to rip out the linoleum directly underneath it. We also haven't set up the brand new table saw yet. That is going to be the fun part! I think Mary wants to spend her birthday doing that. We also need to take measurements so we know exactly how wide to lay the first row of boards. It'll be easier to do that before we rip out the old floor.

Mary wants to go for sushi dinner tomorrow night, then church, then ice cream if it times out right. With any luck, there won't be a lot of time for real actual work. Just thinking about it tires me out.

Why doesn't the spell checker like "pressboard" and "subfloor?"

Friday, February 2, 2007

Eating Healthy

This NYT article on nutrition and "nutritionism" is the most eye-opening. Michael Pollan, a Journalism professor at UC Berkeley, discusses the history of nutrition, including the fads like omega-3's and oat bran, marketing ploys foisted on us by the American Heart Association and the beef-producing states, and 1980's scientific studies about "nutrients" that have been debunked by later research.

A sample rule of thumb from his article: "If you’re concerned about your health, you should probably avoid food products that make health claims. Why? Because a health claim on a food product is a good indication that it’s not really food, and food is what you want to eat."

Reading every bit like history and science and not at all like the dreadful books on my chiropractor's shelf or radio shows like "the only good doctor is a dead doctor," Pollan shows how the health claims for various kinds of foods have changed over the last 30 years. He also shows how the science of "nutritionism," which seeks to divorce nutrients from the basic foods in which they are found, and gave rise to the whole supplement industry, has been a miserable failure. For example, those who eat carrots gain healthful benefits, but those who take beta carotine in supplement form not only show no health benefits, but can show some harmful effects.

Some of Pollan's suggestions for eating healthy:
  • Don’t eat anything your great-great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food. 
  • Avoid food products that come bearing health claims.
  • Avoid food products containing ingredients that are unfamiliar, unpronounceable, or more than five in number. 
  • Pay more to buy healthy food.
  • Eat less: eat until you are only 80 percent full.
  • Eat mostly plants, especially leaves.
Some of these are similar to suggestions we've heard at Weight Watchers or in our quest for gluten-free health.
or search for Unhappy Meals