Monday, March 22, 2010

Of Marathons and Mini-Projects

Though the list of mini-projects* is long, it was hard to get much done this weekend with the fantastic weather. My best intentions fell to the wayside, beginning with an unplanned trip with N. to the National Marathon finish. The point was to see my brother finish what I thought was his first marathon. We'd gotten up at the crack of dawn to see him around the 8 mile mark in Columbia Heights, which we did achieve. Unfortunately, he didn't actually run the marathon, but just the half. If I had an attention span greater than that of a three-week-old cocker spaniel, I would have known this.

Go MomBut we turned my mistake into a fun afternoon. Watching the marathon finish was enjoyable even though we didn't end up being there for anyone in particular. I haven't run a race in a while, which I will blame on several unrelated foot injuries beginning with the "Spiderman" incident last May, so being there woke up the running bug. Hopefully I will turn that inspiration into action, which means actually doing all the stretching exercises I'm supposed to do in order to get my current foot issue fixed.

After we left the race finish at RFK stadium, we stopped at Eastern Market for an hour or so on the way back home. I must say - Port City Java makes a kick-ass coffee milkshake. Delicious. It was a perfect day for just walking around and taking in the city. Even Metro worked out pretty well. Despite the obligatory train breakdown, which happened at L'Enfant Plaza while we were changing to the Orange/Blue line, we were hardly set back and didn't wait long for any train. When the doors open and close a half-dozen times while the train is making odd grinding noises and bucking slightly, you can generally assume you're going to be there a while. But they cleared the malfunctioning train quickly and we were on our way only a few minutes later on the next one.

*Mini-Project: A project which takes between 15 minutes and 2 hours to complete, unless escalated to "Major Project"

I have this habit of starting some project or other when there's some time to fill. This could be anything from fixing a latch that doesn't work right, or changing the batteries in a flashlight, or putting insulation in the attic.

"Mini-Project" is typically something that I think will take only a few minutes, but could expand into several hours, or possibly spawn several other related mini-projects. N. has devised a classification system for my projects. Anything that is generally unplanned and begun spontaneously is termed a "mini-project." In addition, there are:

Micro-Project: This is something that takes only a few minutes, but is likely to interferes with whatever we were going to do at the time, like leave the house or eat dinner. It usually involves something like collceting dirty drinking glasses from around the house, or organizing the mail table. Typically, does not become a mini-project because typically does not involve tools.

Medium Project: This is a project that actually must be planned somewhat and could involve an entire day or two. While mini-projects can be home-improvement related, and can spawn other mini-projects, they usually can be completed the same day they are started. Not so with medium projects. Examples include: refinishing a door, or installing a new plumbing fixture.

Major Project: A major project is remodeling a room, or building a fence, or resolving a parking ticket dispute with DMV. These can span days, weeks, or even months. When you begin a major project, you should plan on living with it for a while. Most of the time, I think that a major project will be a medium project when it starts. Example: Bathroom. Initial estimate: 4 days. Actual time to completion: Not completely finished after 9 months.

Mega Project: The mother of all projects, this is life. My house is a mega-project. Goes on for years. Most people do not complete any mega-projects in their lifetimes. Examples: renovating the entire house, or learning to leave your wallet and keys in a place where you can find them later.

Of Last Weekend's Mini-Projects

DSC_0143Now that you understand what I'm talking about, I was able to get a couple mini-projects done. One of them was finishing outside the new bathroom window. The picture here, taken many months ago, shows you what I was dealing with. In the gap at the top of the glass block a stained-glass transom is now present. While I was able to lay the block and finish the outside up to here from inside the house, it's impossible to do that last bit when you can no longer reach outside the window.

The bathroom is on the 2nd floor, and my basement comes out only slightly below ground level in the rear. This means the top of the window is nearly 30 feet up. I have a 24-foot ladder, which doesn't quite cut it. Luckily, there's a major house renovation going on right behind my house. The conractor was kind enough to loan me his 30-foot ladder so I could get up to here and do the final sealing. While I absolutely hate ladders, especially really tall ones, this wasn't too bad because it's in a corner so I didn't feel too exposed at the top. I cut an arched piece of wood to fill the space between the top of the transom and the brick window arch, and caulked everything up. At last - the window is finished, which is one of the things on the "punch list" for the bathroom that is, finally, growing shorter.

On the downside, I re-hung the interior door to the bathroom that I showed you last week. The stain doesn't match the stain I used for the casing. This falls in the category of "face-slapping incidents" since it was, basically, a stupid mistake.

Even though they were stained from the same can, I am pretty sure that I forgot to throughly stir up the stain when I did the casing. The result is that it's much lighter than the door. I could just restain the casing, but as it turns out I think the color I got from not mixing it is a lot better. This probably means, another round with chemical stripper to remove the new stain. It's not nearly as bad as getting all the paint off was - it's mostly just annoying when you think you've finally finished something and you realize it's not right. But such is the life of the home improver, and we learn from our mistakes. You get used to taking one step backwards for every two forward with this kind of thing. You just have to remember that you are, actually, moving forward.


pixability said...



Bill said...

Where was my tequila at mile 8?

Jamie said...

Yeah, I forgot the tequila, but there were a lot of liquor bottles on the sidewalk where we watched on 11th Street. Probably could have found a squirrel if you were desperate.

It is possible I missed you, though I was there fore a good 20 minutes before my brother came by.

Among landmarks I saw before my bro came by were Batman, a guy with a mechanical leg, and someone dressed like a banana. Any of those near you? I think the first pace group I saw was 3:40.