Thursday, February 28, 2008

Extreme Makeover

Tileapalooza has claimed it's third bathroom.

It's a lot of work, ugh. It took 14 hours just to cut the tile for this room as there are so many angles. It's a good thing tile does not wear out. The diagonal pattern makes things even harder. To further complicate things, no wall was 100% straight and each tile that needed to be cut was a custom cut. It's a lot of work but it looks really nice.

For some reason I can't find all the pictures of my house I took, but I did manage to find this one from the day I decided to buy it. This is what the master looked like before and after. Wow, what a change. The previous owner kept everything in great shape, but it was mostly builders grade materials. They held up well was a testament as to how he cared for this home.

But I've purged the house of most of the builders grade materials, ie. lights, flooring, paint. And it's paying off. Just like HGTV, here's an example of what you can do. Of course I did it myself. This room cost about $600.00 in supplies to make over like this.

My friends say I'm lucky I know how to do this work. But let me tell you after day three of laying on the floor caulking baseboards, you wish you were not so competent and could call in someone to finish the job. Am I proud of the work I did and doing it myself, yes. Though I think I'm more proud/surprised that it looks good when it's done.

I'm pooped on tile work. It will be a week or two before I take on the kitchen... maybe.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Mr. And Mrs. President

No, I did not take this picture. You can Google Image search and find it. The batteries died on my camera. I did go see Bill Clinton speak last night at the opening of Hillary Clinton's Austin Headquarters. It was certainly an occasion for Austin. The expected turnout was supposed to be less then 500 but it turns out 1500 people showed up. I invited my friend Gary to go with me, and we made it in early enough to get in the building. There were so many people Bill Clinton had to give a second speech outside standing in the bed of a pick up truck.

It was more old school Bill Clinton that we had come to know. It was certainly a gentler Bill that many had seen in South Carolina. He played to the crowd and loved every minute of it. Say what you will about Bill Clinton, but he always loved being President and always loved being with the people. After his speech was over he entered into the crowd and spent a good 10 minutes shaking hands before heading outside to give a second speech. It was a long day for him, the first speech did not start until 10:00pm.

I had last seen Bill Clinton in person back in 1992 at the Chautauqua Institution when he ran for President. He gave a speech with Hillary, Al and Tipper. They all looked so happy. I still didn't vote for him back then. I did vote for Bush in 92 as he was very much a world statesmen and I thought that was important. But I was wrong, the world loves Bill Clinton.

He would shake a million hands for America if he had to.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


Seriously, that's what Home Depot calls a tile sale. I did not make that up.

It's raining this weekend here in Austin and it's very welcome. So no outside activities, the doggies are not subject to the 3 1/2 mile walk around Town Lake. They like the first mile, then they get tired.

I have three bathrooms and a kitchen that need new floors. While my home is only eight years old, the floors are needing some updating. All the wet areas have linoleum in various grades of quality. It's all in great shape for eight years, but tile to spruce things up a bit. I've never done tile before, so this is new to me.

If you hear cussing and screaming from Texas, you know who it is.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I Gotta Bone

Today is the one year anniversary of Baxter's adoption. I can't believe a year has gone by, but the calender does not lie. Nor does the blog, as one year ago I posted his homecoming pictures. It goes without saying, but we've made each other very happy.

Last year he was a six month old puppy with a bad case of kennel cough. Like a little kid, his nose was running all over the place. When I picked him up, he weighed 48 pounds. Today he weighs 80 pounds and went to the vet last week for a full check up and immunization boosters. He's a very healthy dog and I'm very thankful for that.

As usual, today Baxter's jumped on the bed and gave me a good morning kiss. Logan is a bit bolder and jumps in bed and lays next to me. Today's treat for the both of them is a big bone to chew on. This will keep them occupied for hours and let me get back to school work.

A dog is a huge commitment. It's very daunting at first when you take one home. Somewhat like a child, you are responsible for feeding and caring for this animal for quite some time. After a while you get used to it and your friends expect you to leave the party early so you can let your dog out.

The love and companionship is more then worth it.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Play With Me

I'm supposed to be writing a paper today. It has to get done today, it's due on Wednesday but I can't seem to get started. Hmm. I wonder why. Yes while dogs make wonderful companions, they do require a good deal of attention. I sometimes shoo them out of the house and into the backyard where they can play together. But that's not always what any of us need. We all need a little play time. It's often been referred to as "dog therapy". It certainly comes in handy.

But Baxter and Logan, I have a paper to write today. So outside you go. I'll make it up to you later. You won't let me forget.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Where Art Though Governor?

I love politics. It so much fun, especially when you can sit on the sidelines and watch. Besides reading a ton, I never miss and episode of Meet The Presson Sunday mornings. Long-time moderator Tim Russert is a favorite of mine amongst Washington journalists.

To the surprise of many, including his supporters, Mitt Romney "suspended" his presidential bid. Why not just say, "I'm dropping out". I prefer declaratory statements versus the uncertain ones. I know it had to smart a bit, he spent a lot of his money to run.

It would have been easier if Mitt was the GOP candidate. I've always had a strong affinity for John McCain and the "Straight Talk Express". He was the first person I ever gave money too back in 2000 when he was running. He's been thoughtful enough to remind me of that in e-mails. I'll have to say, he's been sending me e-mails for eight years now. Very thoughtful of him.

From the start of the presidential race I've been behind Hillary Clinton for a number of reasons. She's a fighter, I'm a fighter. She's smart, I have moments of smartness. She's aggressive, I'm aggressive. Most of this can be said for John McCain too I guess. We like people that mirror ourselves. Yes there are the old "Clinton" days, but they weren't really that bad. I think we were mostly a content bunch during the 90's and Bill Clinton easily beat Bob Dole in the '96 campaign. Kerry nearly toppled Bush in '04, not a sign of contentment. On the Democratic side Hillary is still my candidate.

I get mad at Barack Obama for running in this contest. He's a such a dynamic personality and a great orator. He has the power of persuasion and he captures an audience. Why am I upset then? He really has not much of a record to run on in the Senate or from Illinois. He certainly wants "change" but I'm not quite certain what that is. If he said "I want chocolate cake", I'd know what he was asking for.

The United States runs fairly well compared to many places around the globe. Any new leader is going to bring significant change to the country. We weren't clambering for "change" in 2000 but we certainly were given it. He will get beaten up by John McCain, almost personally. Early in his senate career, Obama agreed to support McCain on a bill and with out any notice to McCain changed his mind publicly. The Irish never forget. Coming in second in a presidential race will end your presidential asperations. It would be very sad for such a promising individual who is so young.

Another interesting development. Where's the Governor? Mitt, you left us with out a Governor. How dare you. We love Governors! We think they make great presidents, as they manage little countries on their own first, then we promote them. Since 1976 we've had a present or former Governor in the race. No Governors in 2008 to pick from. Thanks Mitt.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Nuts About Lutz

My latest read outside of textbooks has been Six Men Who Built The Modern Auto Industry. It's an interesting book about the six most influential automobile executives from 1970 to today. It's clear the author has one favorite and that is Bob Lutz, presently with General Motors. His first job happen to be with GM back in the early 60's, but he then went to work for BMW, Ford, Chrysler and now back to GM.

Last night I joined my friend Gary for a movie and he arrived at the theater in a beautiful black 2008 Cadillac CTS. Black is the only color they should offer on that car, as it's just stunning and works with every line and surface. I'm glad we waited until after the movie to go over the car or we would have never made it inside. Gary indulged me in a quick spin around the neighborhood by the theater. I've written glowing passages about this car and I still stand by everyone one of them. This is truly Bob Lutz's finest work. (Not that one man is solely responsible for a car mind you.)

Back to my reading. One of the chapters about Lutz discusses his time at BMW is the 1970's. This period was also the gestation time for one of my present rides, the E24 6-Series. Apparently Bob had penned the original concept of this beautiful car first, and left the final look to the design team. But certainly he put his stamp on the continuing development of the car. I just finished washing mine and taking it for a nice Sunday drive and I'm still very much in love with it. I've posted new pics on my page, the link is to the right of this column.

Bob Lutz's other significant vehicle I've owned is the Ford Explorer. He was head of Ford's U.S. Light Truck Operation during it's development period. His design influence made the Explorer more then an extended wheelbase Bronco II. By Making the vehicle wider and longer, he defined the SUV class as to what this segment should be. I personally had four examples of the first generation Explorer from 1991-2001 and it was the perfect trans-continental vehicle for one or two people. My father still has his 2000 5.0L V8 AWD model.

General Motors normal retirement age is typically about 65 or so, but Bob Lutz has blown past that. And it's for our benefit that he has continued to work into his 70's. If John McCain wanted another former military fighter pilot on the ticket, a McCain/Lutz run for 2008 would have a strong chance at my vote.