Moved In

It’s fortunate that Kris and I don’t ever intend to move again. Based on how long it took us to unpack and feel “moved in” at this place, we might never make that adjustment anywhere else. However, after fifteen months of s-l-o-w progress, we do at last feel moved in.

It helps that the bathroom remodel is finally nearing completion. (Yes, it has been nearly eight weeks, and yes it’s only “nearing” completion.) The job is 97% finished, which means the place is perfectly usable, but that there are little details (dimmer switch, power to the garage/workshop, and final inspections) that need to be completed.

It also helps that over the past week, we’ve finally tackled some of the move-in chores that we delayed for the past year. Last weekend, Tiffany came over to help us. While the Gates girls organized the garage, I tackled the garden shed and the spare shed. (You know you have too many outbuildings if you refer to one of them as the “spare shed”.)

(As we were cleaning, I found a dead bird on the lawn. It was probably killed by a cat, but its carcass had been taken over by yellowjackets. There were a dozen of the bastards politely taking turns to eat the bird’s innards. Despite a fear of bees, I managed to snap some handheld macro shots.

The bees were unhappy when I took the bird from them. They swarmed about the spot in the lawn for several minutes, longing for bird flesh.)

When we’d finished, the garage was neat and tidy (and empty); all the stuff in the garden shed had been shifted to the spare shed; and the garden shed had been converted to a playhouse of sorts (for visiting children).

When I was growing up, my grandparents had lots of outbuildings, too. One of them (the one filled with dynamite — no joke) was used as a playhouse. There were cups and saucers and chairs and tables (and the aforementioned dynamite) and all sorts of other things to play with. To make our playhouse, I hung the old bathroom cabinets from the wall, and dragged the old bathroom vanity into place. The space was completed by a small table and the two old chairs from Mac and Pam (chairs that are now destined to go to Craig and Lisa, whenever they want to pick them up).

All this cleaning was great, but the final step that allowed me to feel “moved in” was this: I hauled all of my old computer stuff to Free Geek, a Portland-based nonprofit. How much computer stuff?

  • Thirteen monitors
  • Eighteen computers
  • Four printers
  • One scanner
  • Dozens of memory modules, about eight hard drives, scads of modems and sound cards and video cards

Most of that equipment was still usable; some of it was even good. I ought to have taken the time to sort the wheat from the chaff, but in the end I just switched my brain off, grabbed everything, and hauled it away. That computer stuff was a boil that needed lancing; it was a sore on my mental life, and I’m relieved to have it gone.

Now my workshop is mostly empty. (All the more so since Kris had me haul the filing cabinet into the house last week.) I have some woodworking tools (and some comic books) laying about, but mostly the workshop is now an empty space. I’ll spend a couple nights this week tidying it up, and then maybe I’ll actually start a woodworking project. (Wait — we still don’t have electricity out there. The bathroom’s still only 97% finished; part of the remaining 3% is reconnecting electricity to the workshop.)

As my obsession with photography continues to wax, I’ve developed other possible uses for the workshop and the playshed. I could convert the playshed to a darkroom, and I could create some sort of photography studio in the workshop. The spaces are great, but there’d be a lot of work converting each to its new use. Still, it’s something to consider.

Meanwhile, Kris’ sister, Tiffany, recently moved to Portland. A truck filled with her belongings arrived on Saturday. We helped her unload the stuff Saturday morning, and she’d unpacked nearly all of it by Sunday afternoon. Holy cats! It took me and Kris fifteen months to move in; Tiffany did it in a day.


On 29 August 2005 (10:53 AM),
Joel said:

As someone who has moved away, let me be the latest to welcome Tiffany to the neighborhood. Tiffany, I’ve always liked you, and since I’ve also always liked Portland, it works for me that you’re there.

On 29 August 2005 (11:01 AM),
Tiffany said:

Thanks for the welcome Joel. I hope to see you soon.

Jd, thanks for not showing the dead bird, the description was gross enough.

On 29 August 2005 (11:36 AM),
Tammy said:

We have been remodeling our master bath for two years now. The toilet has been out for all of that time. Luckily we have two other bathrooms. I’m just sayin’ I’d give anything for an eight week remodel!

On 29 August 2005 (02:33 PM),
Amy Jo said:

Three comments:

(1) Welcome to Portland Tiffany. I suspect you don’t remember me, but we met a few years back in Alexandria, VA when Kris was out east for some sort of training. We moved back to Paradise, oh, sorry, I mean Portland, a year ago after four years of braving the wilds of the DC Metro Area.

(2) JD–A post showing more photos of the bathroom is warranted. Some of us would like to see more than the tub . . .

(3) JD–I would love to see a post about the dynamite lurking in the shed/playhouse. Did you know it was there at the time? Were there any rules of behavior designed to keep your grubby little hands off the dynamite? Did you break the rules?

On 29 August 2005 (03:06 PM),
mac said:

More importantly, where is the blasted stuff now?

On 29 August 2005 (03:25 PM),
Stacy said:

I’m glad you donated your items to free geek –they are running some amazing programs.

Yes, moving is not fun, but good thing you’re done.

Stunning photo. I didn’t know bees liked blood.

On 29 August 2005 (03:41 PM),
Pam said:

I am ready to claim my garage sale picture in order to help you clear your garage of clutter. And I can’t blame you for passing on the chairs, but what changed your mind?

On 29 August 2005 (04:35 PM),
tammy said:

Jd may recall this differently but the only thing I remember about that dynamite is that we were told to not go behind that wall. It was a little half wall with no extra door or anything. I didnt know until just a couple of years ago that there was dynamite in those boxes. We played out there for years and never got into the stuff. Grandpa would stop on his way into the house from the fields or barn and we’d give him carrots or crackers. There was an old red wicker chair out there he’d sit in. I recall him reading the paper in there with us sometimes. Grandma very seldom visited. Now as a Grandparent myself I see this all so differently. What a special place they made for us there in that playhouse. And because of spending just a few minutes a day with us we now have lasting memories.

On 29 August 2005 (06:52 PM),
Lisa said:

Why was the dynamite around to begin with? It’s not a common household item these days…

On 29 August 2005 (06:52 PM),
Tiffany said:

Hi Amy Jo,

Yes I remember you, Thai food. I could not find you in a crowd, but that will change soon. Thanks for the welcome.

On 29 August 2005 (07:04 PM),
Ron said:

When Grandpa bought the place it was all woods and stumps. After he logged most of the place he had to blast the stumps to be able to farm the land. One of my favorite memories is blasting stumps with Grandpa as a kid. We would dig a hole under the stump and Grandpa would tape together as many sticks of dynamite as he thought it would take to tear it up (sometimes it took 2 attempts to get all the stump and big roots) and then he would insert the blasting cap and fuse and shove it down the hole. He would then tamp dirt back in the hole to keep the blast from coming out the hole and then he would make me crawl under the tractor and wait while he lit the fuse and would crawl under the tractor with me. After the explosion and the pieces all hit the ground around us we would crawl out and go look at the hole to see if all the roots got torn out. I remember the smell of the smoke and the bad headaches it gave you. Grandpa would tell me to stay back until the smoke cleared, but being an impatient little boy I would run up to see the new hole. To this day I love explosions and the Fourth of July.

On 29 August 2005 (10:47 PM),
J.D. said:

I should point out that I have no firsthand memory of the dynamite. I only know about it from stories that Ron and Tammy have told at recent family reunions…


Since learning about it in Mrs. Clarke’s third-grade class (back in 1978), I’ve been a fan of the metric system, though I rarely use it. As Americans, we’re surrounded by archaic units of measure — we’re immersed in them. At the box factory, I deal in inches and fractions-of-inches all day long. (We also deal with a base-sixteen world here. I can convert sixteenths nearly as easily as tenths.)

For me, one of the most confusing aspects of the metric system has been temperature. I understand that to convert fahrenheit to celsius, one subtracts thirty-two and multiplies by nine-fifths. Or five-ninths. Or whatever. I understand this intellectually, but for some reason, the whole procedure is so semantically complex that I’ve never bothered.

In a recent AskMetafilter thread on the metric system, somebody restated the problem in a way that suddenly made sense to me: don’t think “nine-fifths”, think “1.8”. Yes, I know these are identical terms, and I should have done my own conversion long ago. But I never have. Now, after learning to use “1.8”, the whole fahrenheit-celsius conversion thing is a piece of cake. It was instantaneously clear. Everything clicks.

0 degrees celsius is 32 degrees fahrenheit (cold)
10 degrees celsius is 50 degrees fahrenheit (cool)
20 degrees celsius is 68 degrees fahrenheit (room temperature)
30 degrees celsius is 86 degrees fahrenheit (warm)
40 degrees celsius is 104 degrees fahrenheit (hot)

Now I can add temperature to my metric arsenal. (Ironically, it interests me less to know that I way 86 kilograms in metric than to know that I weigh 13-1/2 stone in whatever antiquated British system uses that for a measure. I’ve always thought that stoneweight was fun!)

For sheer complexity, I don’t know of anything more confusing than the British monetary system before decimalizaton.

OLD MONEY                                 NEW MONEY (after 1971)
� (libra)    = pound                      �  = pound
s (solidus)  = shilling                   
d (denarius) = penny/pence                p = [new] penny/pence (pee)
�1,3/6 = 1 pound, 3 shillings, 6 pence    �1.50 = 1 pound, 50 pence
OLD COIN/NOTE                   VALUE       NEW COINS
farthing                        1/4 d
halfpenny (ha'penny)            1/2 d
penny (copper)                    1 d
..............................................1/2 p (discontinued)
twopence (tuppence)               2 d
   -a silver coin, pre-1643, and a copper coin from the reign of 
    George III (1738-1820).
................................................1 p
threepence (thruppence)           3 d
groat 1351-1662                   4 d
fourpence 1836-1856               4 d
................................................2 p
sixpence (tanner)                 6 d
   -note this is not the same as the tenner, a 10-shilling note.
shilling (bob)                   12 d...........5 p
florin                            2 s..........10 p
half crown                        2/6
crown                             5 s 
   -a commemorative coin, rather than common currency.
half-sovereign/half-pound        10 s..........50 p
   -the half-sovereign and sovereign coins were gold and worth 
    far more than the equivalent notes, at least in the 20th century. 
sovereign/pound (quid)           20 s...........�1 coin & note = 100 p
   -the modern 50p and �1 coins are not gold.
guinea                           21 s     equiv �1.05 
   -the guinea has not been minted since 1813, but professional 
    fees and prices for luxury items are still quoted in guineas.

For even more info, check out the wikipedia article. (Last night, Andrew and I had a conversation about determining the value of various monetary sums mentioned in Patrick O’Brian and Jane Austen novels. This page has some info on the subject (look to the bottom).)


On 19 August 2005 (12:31 PM),
Lynn said:

One of the things we struggle with here at work is trying to convert liters, cubic inches and horsepower. No formula ever seems to work well.

On 19 August 2005 (04:49 PM),
Denise said:

Who gives a hoot about this? Where are my rabbits????

Ok – just kidding. I worked with China all the time in my NOW OLD job (as of this minute) and the conversions drove me crazy on a regular basis!

Why can’t we just conform?

On 19 August 2005 (07:19 PM),
Andrew Parker said:

Ah, third grade. When our country was optimistic enough to imagine that the US would adpot “SI” by 1992. *That* makes it seem like a long time ago, eh?

Google now does most conversions you’re likely to need, which is cool.

On 20 August 2005 (07:36 AM),
dowingba said:

Your little celsius conversion method doesn’t exactly work properly. Using your formula, -40 fehrenheit is -129.6 celsius; when in fact they should both be -40.

On 20 August 2005 (03:22 PM),
Mom said:

An easier conversion method from Celsius to Fahrenheit — one suggested by my Aussie friends — is to double the Celsius temperature and add 15. The result isn’t quite as accurate as the Metafilter method but is easy to do in my head (which isn’t real mathematical). I find myself having to convert Fahrentheit into Celsius quite often for my Canadian, Australian, and English friends. We are indeed in the minority in the world.

On 26 August 2005 (10:05 AM),
Jeff said:


I think you mis-multiplied somewhere… you need to add 32 to make the conversion work-out properly:

1.8 x -40 = -72 + 32 = -40


1.8 x 10 = 18 + 32 = 50
1.8 x 20 = 36 + 32 = 68, and so on…

I missed this entry, as I was in Canada when it was written. The plains of the Peace Country (Alberta) can have quite a temperature variation… one day it was 27, the next it was 7, and then it literally froze the day after that. Then it was back up to 28 by the next day… pretty crazy.

I would suggest the following Centigrade conversion scale for those living in northern Alberta:

10 degrees celsius is 50 degrees fahrenheit (warm)
20 degrees celsius is 68 degrees fahrenheit (hot)
30 degrees celsius is 86 degrees fahrenheit (scorching hot)
40 degrees celsius is 104 degrees fahrenheit (surface of the sun)