Monday, December 31, 2012

The Promise Land.

Another 1700 miles in the can and we have arrived in Whitefish.  The Orange Men (Adam & Pete in their matching orange jackets) have gone off to ski the "side country."  Poor Zana had to go to work today, and her wicked hangover followed her there.  Danger Mutt and I are having some quality quiet girl time - MUCH NEEDED quiet girl time.  She's having awesome running dreams; I am reveling in the fact that I won't be getting in the car for more than 10 minutes today.  On the docket: skate skiing, grocery run and more booze. It will probably take my guts a month to recover from this trip.  Adam has pretty well convinced me that we should stay all week, so I also need to figure out how much vacation time I have and whether or not I'll need to go to the lab Sunday to play catch up.

We left MoFalls late Friday morning.  My brother and dad left a bit earlier than us and headed to Austin in the rental car.  I think my mom was secretly glad everyone was gone so she could have some of her own quiet time.  No quiet time for us, since Gaia was having none of the drive out to Madison.  We went to a golf course we had spotted earlier in the week for some skate skiing in our new gear, then over to Ashley's to introduce Gaia to the babies (Scout & Sully, the mini dachshunds).  Then sushi on the Square (Adam in reference to the Madison food & culture: We are a million miles from Menomonee Falls!), and back over to the shoppe for Friday Tasting.  More friends joined us at the end, including a dachshund named Snack and his partner in crime, a Gaia-sized dog named Dante.  Much wine was consumed.  Then all of us - six humans and five dogs - spent the night sipping whiskey and snuggling up in Ashley & Hills's 800 square foot house.  Cozy!

Saturday morning we made the push west.  Two long days, one overnight in South Dakota's biggest water park resort and we landed here.  We cut across Montana from Billings to Great Falls and through Glacier National Park.  Good driving conditions all the way, other than the 30 knot crosswinds at times and the elk in GNP looking for blood.  Zana & Pete had wine and soup ready for us and shortly after we PTFO'd on the pull out couch.  And for the love, we are not driving beyond town today.

Snow is falling and it's beckoning me outside.  So I shall leave you with some photos to sum up the trip thus far and return sometime in the not too distant future.  It's a quick upload, so the photos are a) out of order and b) not all rotated properly... 

Andrew & Adam making pizza.

Adam's first Butter Burger

And Adam's first Jimmy John's sandwich!

The amazing parking job at REI Madison.

Adam, GF pizza, wine.  Can't remember how I got previous blog photos to not rotate themselves... stand by.

Duck death in the back of the truck.

Gaia PTFO'd in Whitefish.

Gaia & Snack in Madison.

Gaia at the Christmas Dinner table.

Gaia's new favorite driving position.

Gaia in front of the MoFalls tree & booty.

Gaia goes to Wisconsin!

Hills pouring bubbles.

Culver's stop.  You can't leave the midwest without frozen custard.

Gaia & I at the Devil's Tower pit stop.

Driving... Day 3.


South Dakota.

Driving... Day 1.  Looking so fresh and clean!

Sushi at Red.

Wisconsin Capitol Building in the snow.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Sioux Falls to MoFalls

Twenty Four hours in to Drool-fest 2012.  So far, so good.  Sort of.  Anxiety levels are high all around.... which I guess doesn't make it drool-fest, but more like panic-fest

We got a few hours of sleep at the sketchy Motel 6 the other night, broken up by people coming and going at all hours, and the need to flip over every so often so the hip side that was on the mattress wouldn't completely fall asleep.  Gaia had no trouble sleeping, of course, and woke well rested and ready to whine all the way across Minnesota.  Adam woke, not forgetting that we were in a sketchy motel, and successfully avoided touching the gross carpet with his bare feet.  That is to say, he resurrected the game of "Carpet is Lava" and threw down pillows from the bed to his shoes.   Then we had to drive an hour before we found a legitimate coffee stop, at which the high school girl pouring espresso saw Adam's Yale vest and said (with astonishment): Woooooah... Did you reeeeeally go to Yale?  Wow.  You must be, like, really smart.

Got in to Madison last night before dark, and had a lovely stay with Ashley & Hills at Square Wine Co, their new baby across from the Capitol building.  Hills sells smaller production stuff and had a pretty awesome selection.  So we stocked up for the week, shared a bottle of Riesling, snacked on some cheesey bits, and got back on the road.  Another hour and a half and we successfully entered Menomonee Falls.

Last night Adam and I shared the end of the potato/squash/turkey hash and a bottle of wine, each got a much needed shower, chit chatted a bit and pretty much PTFO'd.  Ten hours later everyone finally started to stir.

Today was cookie munching, last minute present shopping, liquor & beer buying, doggie belly rubbing and internet surfing.  Andrew and I each snuck in a little kettlebell workout between cookie servings.  Adam and I (but mostly Adam) made dinner.  I guess I've gotten re-calibrated to how long cooking with Adam takes.  And I'm totally ok with snacking and sipping wine while cooking, but it was tension-creating for every other adult in this household when dinner wasn't ready before 8:00.  (Other than Andrew, who has been completely preoccupied with video games and root beer & vodka.)  Throw in a busted meat thermometer, which kept the beef in the oven longer than it really needed to be and things got uncomfortable.  Classic first full day at the Potter household, and everyone should be fine in the morning.

Cribbage & movie watching time now.  And water drinking.  Must increase water intake...

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Bozeman to Sioux Falls

No blood drawn yet from any of the three of us.

Currently drinking box wine at a Motel 6. Gaia gets her own bed tonight and is enamored with the way it smells and tastes.

Adam says we must go to sleep now so that we can get this stay over with and get back on the road.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Seattle to Bozeman

Here we (me & Gaia) sit on our king sized bed in a hotel in Bozeman.  Adam is washing the last 675 miles off.  Actually, no, now he's opening a beer and eating popcorn while walking around in a towel and marveling at the number of TV's in this "suite."

The morning should have been uneventful - just packing, loading the car, and going.  All going to plan until the second load down to the truck, in which we arrived at the truck and realized we had zero keys on our collective person.  So I went around knocking on every unit that had an outside door, but with no luck.  Adam pretty much stayed and guarded the laptop bags and skis.  I was able to follow some neighbors into the next building over, then had to sort my way through the labyrinth to get back to where Adam was waiting.  Then we had to break into the apartment door, which was disturbingly easy.  Only set us back 45 minutes and we were still over Snoqualmie Pass by  noon - which is about the time we realized we forgot the dog food & bowls.  A Trader Joe's stop in Spokane, a walk over to Petco, and Gaia was back in business.  We picked up a squeaky duck that lasted about a hundred miles until the next pee stop, at which point we found its guts all over the back of the truck.

Gaia's Thundershirt (an early Christmas present from Jo) has proven quite useful in the last 10 hours. She's still not EXCITED about being in the car, but she's not whining and barking ALL the time, which is a huge improvement.  If I had been able to locate the doggie sedatives last night, it may have been totally silent.

And, Adam just found the apartment keys that have been missing since September, when he originally got them.  He had to copy my keys when we first moved in, because he put his in his "every day" laptop bag - every day in UNDERGRAD.  It would have been wholly ironic if that bag had been outside with us this morning, but we're pretty sure it wasn't.  (Pretty sure.)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Another Road Trip

Tomorrow morning we start road trip, part deux.  I know, I know, I haven't even posted about the original road trip in October.  But I've got 2000 miles to Wisconsin to get it done... so maybe.

Adam, Gaia and I are driving from Seattle to Milwaukee, WI to Madison, WI to Whitefish, MT and back to Seattle.  Christmas with my family, wine drinking with Ashley, Hills and the new shoppe in Madison, New Years and skiing with Zana & Pete in Montana before heading back to work on (or around) the 3rd.  Adventures are sure to be had; possibly even blogged about in a semi-live fashion.

Adam has spent all damn day organizing music so we won't get bored.  He may or may not start packing before the hour in which I would like to hit the road in the morning (t-minus 11 hours).  Gaia will be snuggled in her new Thundershirt, and probably given a dose of doggie tramadol and we might make it to Missoula tomorrow in one piece.  Here's the plan:

Look out, Montana.

As you can see, we're covering a good portion of the US; across on I-90, back on I-94.  The midwest is in the midst of Winter Storm Draco, which is dumping plenty of snow.  (White Christmas!)  Gaia loves her some snow angels, so she is STOKED.  I am too.  Adam probably still needs some convincing...

Wish us luck!

P.S.  There's a new tab: Road Trip Tracker.  You can watch us cruise along the north central US.  Is there a more exciting way to spend your weekend than glued to the internet??

Monday, October 22, 2012

A love story.

My college buddy "Farmer" got hitched over the weekend.  For the second time since we graduated college seven years ago, and hopefully it goes better for him this time around.  One of their friends did an email call out to all wedding invitees to pull together a collection of love stories to be put into a book.  I waited until the very last minute before the deadline to do mine (of course).  I wanted to write about Tom.  And I wanted it to be healing and liberating.  I'm not sure I captured what I was going for, or that it was either of those things, but it's a start.


I think of Heaven as a queue of souls, with God handing out assignments.  When you’ve completed your time on Earth, you get back in line for another round, creating a never ending process in which time in this world isn’t necessarily chronological.  You could be assigned another life decades or centuries before or after the one you’re living now.  And I believe that there are people you meet in each life time that have a special connection on a higher level – a soul mate one might say, but not in a “you’re the only one for me for all of eternity” lovey-dovey way; more so in a deep, meaningful, sub-conscious level where two people have been brought together for a specific reason, be it love or a life lesson.
So back to our queue of souls…  To the next in line God says, “You won’t live long for the standards of the day.  You’ll be the baby of the family and your smile and laughter will crack even the most unpleasant of relatives.  You’ll lose your father before you are ten years old.  You’ll meet a woman in college who will become the center of your world.  You’ll marry her, and for about 20 years things will be great.  She’ll come to be unfaithful for the last 5 years of your marriage, and things won’t be fun – at all – until she leaves and you heal your mortal heart.  Soon enough though, you’ll meet another woman, 20 years your younger, who will show you what it is to be loved again.  And six weeks after that meeting, at the height of your most recent happiness – a fatal heart attack.  That may sound harsh, but you’ll be the kind of guy that leaves the party when you’re having the most fun.  What do you say?”  And to that, Tom Evans says, “Sign me up.”
A few more assignments are doled out, and God pitches the next: “You’ll start with a younger brother who you won’t appreciate until you move out of the house; you’ll ease your way through high school, only to find you don’t really know how to study when you get to college.  You’ll be a bit awkward and kind of chubby throughout your teenage years and well into your twenties, but will really come into your own when you discover the sport of rowing.  Through the friends you make there, you’ll meet a man with whom you’ll love immediately and fully, which will undoubtedly take you by surprise.  You’ll only have a short time with him, because six weeks after your meeting, his time will be up and you’ll be left with a lot of unanswered questions.  You’ll be ok though, and you’ll make some good strides in life and love because of it.  And then – actually I’m going to let the rest be a surprise.  Sound good?”   Yes.  Definitely, yes.
And that’s pretty much how it happened…   At the art opening of a mutual friend Tom & Jeny met, flirted, drank (too much) and spent their first night together.  Two days later, he made her dinner and they talked and laughed late into the night.  Before she left, Jeny said, “I don’t know what this is, and I don’t know what I want it to be, but I love hanging out with you” which sent Tom soaring.  The courtship continued, and friends immediately saw what was less obvious to the two of them: simple, pure love; two people who were exactly what the other needed at that time and place in the universe. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Epic Sandwich

I rode to work today, partly because it's freaking beautiful out these days, partly because I put in a half day and was able to get out before it got un-beautiful and freaking HOT out, but mostly because I haven't done anything athletic since the Tiger Mtn bike ride Sunday afternoon and I'm feeling like a slug.

Made a stop at Trader Joe's on the way home for some supplies.  I wanted pesto, but the closest I could find was roasted red pepper spread.  And, of course, in my hunger haze I forgot everything that was actually on my grocery list.  But soon the problem was solved and I got home and made this sandwich:


That's right, this entire post was dedicated to a sandwich.  Welcome to 30.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Metal Chickens

If you haven't read Jenny Lawson's metal chicken post, go now.  This is required background reading.

Saturday we were out on the motorcycle.  We went out to the ever popular destination of Carnation to visit Funny Staffhole and the annual Tom Evans Memorial Hand Launch Glider competition.  I only got a little bit emotional and sentimental, and we really had a fun time watching the guys fly these things all over.

Funny Staffhole, in action.

Anyway, the point of the story is that on our meandery route back to Seattle, we rode past an antique store that had sizable metal chickens outside.  So I start knocking on Adam's helmet and pointing at the chickens and yelling "Knock Knock, Mother F--ker!" and "Metal Chickens!"  He was mostly oblivious to what I was talking about and really just wondered why I was pounding on his head.  At the next stop I excitedly (of course) asked if he saw the chickens, and he said, "No.  But I saw that we passed an antique store and figured out what was going on and why you were hitting me in the head when I heard you scream METAL CHICKENS!"  So that's just taken the original metal chicken joke one step further, because now we've been yelling about them all weekend.  And then yesterday I made him walk down 85th St. so I could take a picture of the really giant metal chickens at the Garden Center.

Look out for shivs.

One of these metal chickens will probably have to come to Sodo with us.  We found a loft in the old Rainier Brewery and are moving sometime next month.  ACK!!  Which means I have three-ish weeks to clean out five+ years of crap that's accumulated here in Greenwood and get my place painted and rental ready.  Double ACK!!  Better get my butt off the couch and cleaning up.  But maybe a snack first.  Like ice cream.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sunday on the Couch

Sometimes this is just how it should be.

Today is one of those days where I have about an hour of energy at a time, and then I need at least two hours on the couch to recover.  We're entering hour seven of Olympic viewing.  We, of course, being Gaia who is sleeping next to me.  Seems that every Olympic athlete this year has kinesio tape somewhere on them.  I could only handle about three points in the women's beach volleyball game, since every point was followed by excessive celebration.  Too much hugging.  Caught a couple of rowing heats - the women's 8+ was just plain full of Rar, which is to be expected.  The women's lightweight double from Greece was by far the most beautiful rowing all day.  Pure grace.  I'm currently watching synchronized diving, which is really very cool.  The American pair are adorable (i.e. I collect rubber ducks... Oh my God, I do too!).

Adam went climbing in Index today, and is now sitting in Hwy 2 traffic trying to get home.  Hopefully this latest nap on the couch will carry me through dinner.    It probably hasn't helped that all I've eaten today is a baguette with some squishy cheese.  Earlier I added some dates & walnuts.  Pork loin on the grill, plus bell pepper pasta will be a welcome addition to my digestive system later on.  Whenever Adam is back in Seattle, we'll make our run over to Chuck's Beer Haven for a delicious companion to the meal.

The big news is that Friday I took delivery of Victoria Wilhemena, the blue Jetta Sportwagen that now sites in my driveway.  Let me start off with - it is SO MUCH COOLER now to own a station wagon than it was 25 years ago when our parents did it.  It's a little Adventure-mobile now.  Yesterday we took it out to the crag and 12+ miles of unpaved/sometimes-washed-out forest service roads properly began the break in process.  Then Gaia got to ride in it this morning, and a little dog hair really does make it my car.  It's pretty fantastic,  and the TDI means 45(ish) mpg.  Win.  Also win because after about three days of riding to and from work I just don't have the energy to deal with the other cyclists, pedestrians, and drivers.

What else do you do with a new car on Day 1?

And how could I forget to report that Adam has a new motorcycle?  And he DOES NOT STOP TALKING ABOUT IT.  I will be much more excited about it when we have a side car, helmet and goggles for Gaia.

She's so excited.  But I'm not sure she understands why.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

And then I got passed by Santa Claus

As previously implied, yesterday began Operation Ride to Work Everyday.  I made it in no problem - even logged a new time record of 48:03.  It was the first time I went through downtown, instead of along the waterfront, so the route was much more direct, but it was also much more hilly.  And much more filled with anxious bus drivers who made my commute like a real-life Frogger.

By the time I got back on the bike in the afternoon, the wind was purposefully coming from the direction I was headed, and making no indications of letting up.  Made it up to downtown, only getting lost once, made it to Dexter Ave without being squashed by a bus and navigating around my second wrong turn on the day.  Climbing up Dexter was pretty brutal, although there was a line of us cruising.  Unfortunately we weren't cruising at my comfortable climbing pace, so I passed and went ahead.  I was vaguely aware of a cyclist in full kit that stayed on my wheel, so I just waited until he or she had enough of my speed and went around.  It didn't take long.  As she passed I realized I knew who she was via the racing circuit, and jumped on her wheel for the remainder of the hill.  Whew!  We had a little chat at the next light, which concluded the highlight of the ride.

On my way up 8th Ave, things started getting sluggish.  One guy blew by me south of Market, and I started to wonder if maybe there was something mechanical going on, because I could not POSSIBLY be that tired or hungry.  Thought about pulling over to check the rear wheel, but kept pushing.  As I'm cruising at a blistering 7.5 mph, an old guy with a white beard, khaki pants and white walking shoes passes me on his hybrid comfort bike.  Santa Claus just passed me on his way to his 3rd margarita.  Awesome.  And ego = deflated.  So another block and I pulled over to discover my back brakes rubbing and effectively rendering me useless against the fat man's power.  Or at least that's going to be the story we stick with.  I might just have hit the wall.  But I'm pretty sure it was the brakes.  Or fenders.  Or reindeer poop.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Car Free

I am officially jeep-less.  The signing of the papers and the transfer of the check went down last night, over beers in cans.  (The last time I had a beer from a can was at least three years ago; it felt just as rednecky now as it did then.  Or maybe it felt collegiate - going to school in Indiana can cause you to get the two scenarios confused.)  Anyway, I woke up in a bit of a panic yesterday morning when I realized there was a lot of cleaning I had promised that hadn't been done yet.  Six dollars in quarters, a small spray bottle of Armoral, a medium sized bottle of Windex and a roll of paper towels later, and she was looking pretty good.  Not surprisingly, that was the first time I had washed the jeep since I got her six years ago.

I had kind of been freaking out about not having a vehicle, and not being ready for a big change, but I think I was freaking out about being overwhelmed in general.  When I started tuning up my bike and putting the fenders on (it's summer in Seattle, why wouldn't you need fenders?), I got excited.  Things will be even more exciting if I can convince the Boeing Powers That Be that I should work from home one day a week, because you know, it's kind of a long haul to ride in EVERY day.  Richard insisted that I have the Honda until I get the new ride, but we won't tell the PTB about that.  So really, as far as getting around, there's nothing to freak out about.  And besides, soon Adam will (probably) have two motor-powered means of transportation, one of which may be my other back up.

I'm almost positive the new car will be a Subaru Impreza.  It's practical, utilitarian, and still has way more bells & whistles than the jeep.  Apparently the one I'm ordering has leather interior, which I hope is more comfortable than the base model's cloth version.  New Zealand Tony over at the dealership hasn't been able to produce a similar model to what I will order, which is kind of frustrating.  The Subie (with Boeing employee pricing) will come in at approximately $10k less than either of the other two options, which is kind of a big chunk of change.  The All4 Mini was super fun, super cute, and super cool, but was really just over the top for me.  Too many buttons and options and costly accessories - if the point of this endeavor is better gas mileage and a vehicle I can lock up, the Subie does just fine.  The other option was the Audi A3 deisel, and while I haven't even driven it, I can't imagine that it would be $10k better.  $5k better, perhaps, but not ten.  And the closest one is up in Bellingham and I just don't have four hours to trounce around testing a car I'm luke warm about already.

Hoping to get back to regular posting here, but I think I've said that before.  Not sure if anyone is even still reading this, although I had a whopping 18 views today, which is at least 6 times more than I've ever had in a single day before.  But I also don't recognize the webistes that are listed as the main recommenders to here, so I'm not sure the clientele is the targeted audience.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Why I Can't Win

My upstairs neighbor is a royal douche canoe.  He is on the short list of people I wish very bad things upon.  Anyone who's spent more than 30 seconds in my condo has heard his thunder toes moving around above them, wondering if he's actually stomping hard enough to come through the ceiling.  He is also the most irrational, unreasonable man I have ever met.  And the epitome of passive aggressive.  I avoid contact with him at all costs - if I had to choose between swimming through a sea of rattlesnakes and attempting to have a lucid conversation with him, the choice to be eaten alive by angry reptiles would be an easy one.  It took me a while to accept that I didn't need to have the last word and that engaging him would only result in me needing to punch something really hard, and repeatedly.  So today, as triggered by a round of nonsense with Elephant Man, I bring you... his emails.  These gems should not be lost in the depths of my inbox, but instead shared with the entire internet.  May they bring you a little bit of peace that you are not the only one dealing with complete morons.

Note: these are only emails from my neighbor - none of the context or replies are tucked in here.  Trust me, these are just as entertaining (and ridiculous) on their own.

Another note:  my personal favorite is when he calls me a bully.


Also, did you know August was one of your months for maintenance? It was
in the meeting minutes. One of the owners asked me why it hadn't been done
yesterday. It looks pretty bad.

(followed by)

Jen: There is a bit more weeding to do to meet the monthly standard - I
looked at it in the dark. Anyway, talk to Mac and see if he's cool with
picking it up where it's at.


Thanks for passing this on Rani. I'll follow up with Tom to get a
schedule, hours and discuss maintenance requirements, i.e. not leaving
roofing nails on our asphalt. I think it's fine to be cooperative, but
they can also park on the street. There may also be insurance related
issues we need to consider.


Last night, Wed 11/14, I came home at around 11 PM and there was a dark
teal green Mazda 626 (license plate 014 TBL) in my parking stall #3. The
hood/engine was cold so it had been there awhile. Lights were only on in
one unit, and I regrettably knocked on the door but had no response.
Frustrated with the situation, I called a tow truck. The two truck showed
up quickly, but I decided to give the person a break and any of you if it
were your vehicle of that of a guest and parked my car on the street
instead of having it towed. However, be advised, if I find a vehicle in my
stall again, I will have it impounded. After a long day, the last thing
anyone wants to do is deal with this hassle and confront other Owners. And
when this happens, imagine then parking in another stall, and while doing
so, you inconvenience another Owner who comes home while you're there, and
so on. This is the second time I have had a vehicle in my stall in the
evening. On the first occasion, it was another Owner. I had to knock on
doors. Without prior arrangement, this is unacceptable.

In the daytime hours, I can see maybe a little wiggle room - but I mean a
little; for example, if someone is moving in/out. Still, they should try
to make arrangements with the owner of the stall, i.e. the pending 'good
neighbor' contractor parking next door for his re-roofing job. Next, if
the vehicle is unattended, a note should be posted with unit, name and
phone number. Last, the duration should be less than a few minutes as to
drop something off. If friends are coming over, they need to park down the
alley on 6th or 8th and walk up. That's the deal we got when we bought our
places. Owners have different schedules, and a person who works an
alternative schedule shouldn't be incovenienced during the day any more so
than someone who works a traditional schedule.

To keep things easy and avoid disputes, I'm forwarding a new contract to
the board of directors for approval for Jim's Northgate Towing. I am
proposing that all Owners have authorization for towing. Signage will be
posted on the west and east fences, and two on the overhang posts.

If the vehicle in question was your vehicle or that of a guest, you can
send me half the $230 I saved you.


Jen, Bo and I wanted to update on our neighbor Tom's request for parking.
As you can read in his 11/15 email below, he is no longer interested
citing our terms. The door was left open, but he hasn't reconsidered.
Given his negative disposition, this is probably for the best. Therefore,
we will not be granting Tom or his contractors the use of our property for
his re-roofing project. Although our requirements were a bit tight, they
were reasonable and could have been accommodated with a simple mutual site

walk prior to construction to document existing conditions (list/photos),
daily inspections, and abiding by our requirements, including the
implementation of proper measures to protect our property, i.e. plywood
sheets to protect vinyl siding, paving, etc. Tom persisted in wanting to
do the work during Thanksgiving week despite it not meeting our schedule
needs, mentioned that he would just circumvent our HOA process by speaking
to individuals directly, and kept telling us how great his re-roofing job
would be for us. The feeling is that Tom wanted it his way, may be used to
bullying to get it, wants it easy without taking fair responsibility for
his burden/risk, and when it didn't go his way, he got mad. About his
assertion how it was good for us - it was noted that although it may
result in a better east view, that it may contribute to a slight increase
in property values, and that we appreciated him maintaining his rental
property as he should, ultimately, the work benefited his rental property,
not us. For us, it was an inconvenience but one that we'd take on as good
neighbors given our requirements. Last, there appears to be a disagreement
about the fence. Our builder Tony said that he paid for half the
north/south fence, Tom installed it, and that it is a shared property
line. We need to look into this further so we know. Nevertheless, the
fence should not be of issue since he's not using our property and won't
need to remove the section he had discussed. If he damages it, we'll
pursue its repair at his expense. Note that the east/west sections are
fully Newbury North property and Tony installed them. This has been an
unfortunate experience, but as we all know, we can't make everyone happy.
We tried and maintained a polite and professional position throughout.


I didn't want to have to say anything, but I've got to. Sorry. Can you
please shut off your master bath fan when you're at work at night? It's
pretty noisy and rattles through the ceiling and walls into my bedroom.
When it's all quiet at night, it's pretty hard to tune out. Incidentally,
I had Tony replace my master bath fan before I moved in because it was
loud too. I think there may be another fan in the utility room. If you
think about changing yours out, I'd be willing to help. Thanks!


Hate to bug ya, please don't be pissed, but I was wondering if there's
anything I can do to help you replace your fans. I know you've been trying
to minimize their use and not leave them on, but yesterday, Sun 12/16, was
a bad day for me. Your master bedroom bath fan was on from 8 - 3, then the
main bath fan was on from about 3:30 to 7:30. Both are really noisy; they
sound like a garbage disposal in my place. You can hear them in every
room. They're incredibly disruptive on days when I stay home trying to
have peace or get things done; gives me a headache as a matter of fact.
It's not like the intermittent traffic noise which can be tuned out; it's
constant with a nasty vibration component to it as well. Recall that I
mentioned having loud fans during my inspection; I made Tony change them
out before signing. In the meantime, I'm wondering if a little lubricant
could help, i.e. Triflo for bikes, and of course, not leaving them on all

I've really tried to keep the TV volume down and assume I've done a good
job with this. I also try to walk soft. You should hear what I have to
deal with from the guys upstairs!

As you noted, it's condo living, but the fans are something that can be
easily resolved.


I'm sorry I upset you. I didn't mean to. Yeah, I can help you out a little
with the cost of replacing the fans. They just get old. Tony should have
replaced all of them. All the noises you mentioned can be annoying. I hear
the rest as well and have learned to tune them out, but the fans are
unique in that the noise is constant and vibrating. Anyway, I'd like to
work with you on these things, not against you. I want to be your friend,
not your enemy. If you trust me to help out, maybe we can see if some
Triflo will work for the time being. I had a fan at my former place that I
lubed up every 6 months or so and it did the job for awhile. Also, give me
the model number of the fan part only and I'll keep my eyes open too. I
think there may be one in the utility closet too; I remember two fan boxes
at least. Maybe when we have our next meeting we can have some sensitivity
training and have each other over to actually hear what walking and TV
sounds like. I can trust you if you want to do this between us for now.


I was very disappointed to find that you left your fan on all day today
Thurs 1/3/08. Perhaps it was an oversight and you were just in a hurry.
However, as I've let you know on two occasions now, this is disruptive to
my quality of living and is a very easily resolved issue.

Therefore, given today's incident and the fact that I received no response
from you from me reaching out in the previous email below, I need to ask
you again to please not leave your fans on all day and to replace them in
a timely fashion. At this point, if we cannot work together to resolve
this, I will have no choice but to escalate this silly issue.

I have been a polite neighbor, patient, reasonable and have stayed above
what I feel are your disproportionate, inconsiderate and bullying
responses. Furthermore, in your capacity as the HOA president, I feel that
your behavior is unprofessional. And note that I've even offered to help
you with fan replacement costs and labor. I feel that you owe me an

This is not condo living as you say, but to me, worse than a dive
apartment when neighbors cannot be considerate, communicate effectively
and work together. In fact, the first thing I did when I moved in last
June was to call you, leave a voice mail to not be a stranger, and for you
to let me know if I'm walking too loud or making too much noise. You never
did, but simply complained about these things when I politely asked you
about your fans back in mid August of last year.

Despite your accusations of my moving furniture, toilet flushing and
walking around, these are intermittent and I make every attempt to
mitigate. And note that the furniture moving happened a few times when it
was delivered, and I take off my shoes and try to walk softly.

Car noise and loud walking upstairs is different than fan noise in that
it's intermittent whereas the fan noise is constant and vibrating. The
fans are in the ceiling cavity, meaning the noise transmits throughout my
unit through the framing, ceiling spaces and wall spaces.

As I already mentioned to you, I had Tony replace my fans as a condition
of my inspection and purchase. They were the same fans from when the
building was an apartment. They get old, out of calibration and need to be
replaced. It's that simple. I'm sorry you didn't take care of this during
your inspection.

Regarding the mold you mentioned, I was told by a builder that running a
fan all day will not solve mold problems; however, it will result in a
more costly electric bill. Can I ask about the mold? Is this a greater HOA
issue we need to know about? Do you have moisture coming through your
floor? Anyway, taking air out via a fan is good to resolve humidity as
from a shower, but this only takes a few minutes, and as the builder said,
isn't effective in reducing mold. The builder suggested that a floor fan
which moves the air would be more effective.

Last, in terms of policy, our HOA bylaws require that you replace noisy
appliances to avoid sound transmission from your unit to any other unit
adjoining or nearby (Declarations, p. 24, Section 9.14).

This isn't just about bylaws though. This is about simple civility and

I implore you to give me a call tonight and arrange to come on up to
listen to the fans for yourself or just talk this out a bit. If you need a
day to cool off, I understand. I made a special trip to send you this
email, and will not likely have email access until Mon 1/7/08.Let's work together to resolve this issue promptly. It's in OUR best

interest to be good neighbors, to deal with this and move on. I would like
a commitment on your part to not run your fans all day and a timeline of
when we will get them replaced. My expectation is that we accomplish this
no later than the end of February '08. I would like to be of assistance to
you in this process, but in order to do so, we need to talk. Thanks.


Not my favorite role in life, but can the owner scheduled for March please
do the weeding before next Monday. The weeds are getting pretty thick.
They should be pulled - not line trimmed which would just end up making a
weed lawn (the line trimmer is for the alley, street strip and east
fenceline). If we don't stay on top of the weeds this time of year,
they'll get deeper rooted and go to seed/spread, making the job for the
April person harder. If you can't do it, courtesy would suggest promptly
sending $80 with notification to the HOA so other arrangements can be
made. Thx.


A few things.
 1.       It makes sense that you want your windows cleaned to improve the presentation and sale of your unit. If others want to have this done, the HOA/Board can consider it.
 2.       Although folks don’t move very often, the HOA/Board needs to consider whether the HOA pays for this service in such cases, and if not, what needs to be done to facilitate one owner’s needs while preserving the needs of the HOA. For example, work involving the building envelope that can affect other units should be pre-approved by the HOA/Board. Also, although your needs are immediate and viewed as a single point in time, the HOA/Board needs to consider the long term frequency of this work and apply the cost to the annual budget.
 3.       Thanks for the lead and reference on the window washing contractor. The HOA/Board should approve any expenditures, contractors and work plans.
 4.       In addition to the use of HOA funds for window washing, there are also timing issues in terms of the time needed to review contractors, contracts, coordination and scheduling. What is your timeline?
 5.       Access to private east yards: Jessica mentioned cleaning the windows on Saturday and I noted that this may require accessing the east yards via 101 and 102 unless the contractor can access the side yards over the fences. Even so, these are private areas so this will take some coordination with the respective Owners. Also, these Owners should provide written approval for this access to the HOA/Board; email should be sufficient.
 6.       Closed windows: The HOA/Board needs to provide sufficient notice for Owners to close windows on the day(s) of work.
 7.       South parking access: The HOA/Board needs to provide sufficient notice for Owners to coordinate open parking on day(s) of work to allow window washing access.
 8.       Residual window washing water/dirt and exterior vinyl cladding: Depending on the process used, the entire building exterior may need to be cleaned as the dirt on the windows and any residual water used to clean them will likely sheet down the vinyl siding. I experimented with this last year when you brought up window washing and was glad when you didn’t follow through as the test spot made a mess on the exterior. Glass specialists at my workplace suggest it’s best to use a localized low pressure water stream to remove grit from the glass before cleaning to avoid scratching the glass so it seems like avoiding the dripping mess of residual dirt and water would be tough.
 9.       Moisture issues with pressure washing: If washing the entire exterior is needed, we need to be careful as to the methods used because of potential moisture issues. Note that during my first monthly maintenance almost a few years ago, I washed the stairs. Water splattered on the walls and made a mess with the dirt on the walls. They’re beige so they look fine until they get wet. I cleaned the walls with low pressure hose water while being careful to avoid doorways. However, 202 had some water drip through their inside entry light fixture. I called Tony, documented this issue via email, and he caulked around the 302 door and surrounding area. Although no problems have occurred since, we haven’t repeated these conditions. With typical rainfall, I’m not aware of any moisture issues to date but we need to be careful with atypical conditions in the stair area and around the entire exterior with high or even low pressure washing, particularly with horizontal and up-angled water. Experts at my workplace suggest not using high pressure or up-angle water jets but to use a scrub brush on a hose water supplied extension pole to wash the exterior cladding and a separate clean brush for washing the windows.
 10.   Exterior washing cost: If washing the entire exterior is necessary, if this isn’t included in the quote from Clean and Happy, this would likely cost more and we would need another estimate. Also, is deck sliding door glass, deck exterior cladding, and unit entry door windows excluded. This would make sense.
 11.   Insurance coverage: I’ve asked in the past as to whether our HOA insurance includes coverage for contractors. This needs to be verified before proceeding. Please provide references in our policy or have someone from your office follow up.
 12.   Alternatives:
 a.       Cleaning from interior spaces: I mentioned to Jessica that I pulled one of my windows last year, cleaned the exterior of the removable window inside my unit, then for the fixed portion of the window, used a microfiber brush to remove exterior grit, soaked the window with a lightly wetted sponge on an extension handle using care to avoid getting drips down the side of the building, then used a squeegee on an extension handle to remove the solution and dirt. It worked but this method has risk from damaging/scratching the glass by cleaning it without removing all the grit, dropping and breaking the windows and fall protection/falling out the window.  However, provided it doesn’t result in drips down the side of the building, work can be limited to a respective unit and wouldn’t need HOA/Board approval. I don’t think I’d do it again and the rain messed up the clean windows a few weeks later anyway.
 b.      Window cleaning from a ladder: Instead of extension brushes and water streams, the work could be done off an exterior placed extension ladder and done by hand to minimize any residual dirt and water on the building exterior in a similar fashion as with cleaning from interior spaces as described above. However, this method has risk with damaging the glass by cleaning it without removing all the grit and damaging the exterior cladding with improper ladder placement, and given the latter, this would need HOA/Board approval.
 As with the window washing, although you’re interested in a point in time, the HOA/Board needs to address the long term.
Regarding the inconsistent grounds maintenance, for the record, I’ve met my obligations of 2 x year and have the photo documentation to prove it. I think you’ve done yours too. For whatever reasons, some others haven’t done it. I resent this. It’s put a lot of extra work on those who have done the work and made the grounds look bad during the interim. I recall last summer having no time with personal obligations but getting up before 5 AM a few mornings to get the work done. I had ¾ of the weed patch along the street under control but it didn’t get sufficient follow up. Again, if everyone would have stuck with their responsibility, 4 hours a month would have been more than enough and we could keep our HOA dues low. Personally, as far as I’m concerned, the folks who’ve skipped their months should write a check out of their pockets for any missed work.
 That said, if the honorable approach is not taken and it’s decided to contract a one-shot job on the HOA dime but to follow up in-house, we’ll need to come up with some protocols, most likely HOA bylaws, to enforce such agreements and determine how to deal with issues such as off-site owners, incapacity to perform, i.e. injuries, schedule conflicts, and transitional periods when units sell and former owners move out and new owners move in. We could also adjust the fixed month schedule to a variable rotation for those who complain about getting more weeds in certain months.
 Also, as stated in the beginning, even with regular/normal in-house format, there will be a need every few years to go a little above and beyond as in the case of tree pruning and removal of the associated green waste. We’re there, so the timing is right for this whether we do it in-house or by contracting. We could add the weeding and get some economy as the contractor would already on site.
 If contracted, similar issues as with window washing will apply. For example, does our insurance provide for contractors, what is the frequency of the work, impact on the budget and HOA dues, etc? Furthermore, we’ll need to agree on a scope of work, specs, and sign a contract for any contracted one-shot jobs and/or ongoing maintenance. Note that we agreed to use mechanical hand methods to remove weeds, not chemicals. Although it would be very time consuming to do this by hand, it’s doable. As an alternative to pulling the weeds, they can be scraped off with a flat shovel, then cardboard sheet mulch is applied to the exposed soil, the cardboard is wetted, then wood chip mulch is applied on top. Still, the scraped soil will need to be removed to a waste site, not to mention greenwaste from pruning the trees, and this will take a truck. Sounds like it’s easier to contract or perhaps there’s interest in a group clean-up weekend. Last, we’ll still need to share responsibility to replace light bulbs and do any spot work between scheduled service appointments. Speaking of light bulbs, the last time I arranged to replace the parking lot light I got complaints as to how it got done and recall others voicing a few alternatives, i.e. standing on a truck cab, getting a ladder from someone’s Dad. Make it happen, the light’s been out for some time.

October 6, 2010

Re: Water Heater Leak in Newbury North Unit 201 and Related Concerns Including Risk of Water Heater Leak/Damage from Unit 301 & Other Units


I inadvertently sent a partial draft email on this subject earlier. Please delete that email.

Hoping you've had time to follow up on my phone call to you on September 20, 2010, and our conversation during your return phone call as to what approach to take following my water heater failure in unit 201 on September 18, 2010, the risk of damage from the failure of water heaters in other units, the mold I found behind my south water heater closet wall and the leak source causing the mold.

I mentioned how fortunate we were in my being home during the incident and shutting off the cold water intake when the leak started. Had I not been home and aware of the problem the leak could have resulted in tens of thousands of dollars in property damage. My water heater label showed a warranty expiration date of August 2001. Your water heater label in unit 301 directly above my unit shows a warranty expiration date of November, 2001, Bo's unit in 302 shows a warranty expiration date of October, 2001, and Jennifer's unit in 202 shows a similar date range.

Given the high risk to my family for costly property damage, disruption of quality of life, and possible temporary relocation during repairs as a result of the failure of your water heater, I encourage you to replace your water heater immediately.

Also, as our HOA insurer, I encourage you to encourage the other Owner's to replace their water heaters immediately as well. Bo/302 has already agreed to replace his water heater as has Jennifer/202. Since water damage including mold affects all Owners, the ground floor units of Jennifer/101 and Rani/102 should also replace dated water heaters.

Regarding mold, as part of my water heater replacement, even though my sheetrock was not wet, as a precaution to ensure no residual moisture, I removed the base molding and bottom 4-inches of sheetrock in my living room closet where my water heater is located. I was shocked to find mold behind my south closet wall, mostly on the backside of Unit 202's sheetrock. Uncertain of the cause of the mold, I removed more sheetrock up to a 5 foot height to the location of my water heater cold water intake, hot water distribution plumbing, and air relief valve plumbing. All connections were sound, there were no leaks. However, the removal of the additional sheetrock showed more mold on the backside of Unit 202's sheetrock. The area of this shared wall is also the water heater closet for unit 202. I informed the Owner of 202, Jennifer and her husband Lon, and invited them over to take a look. I encouraged them to take the opportunity to remove their sheetrock to avoid any health concerns related to molds. They said they felt the mold was dry/dormant, that they did not want to do anything about the sheetrock and wanted to take time to research a new water heater. Lon speculated the source of moisture could have been condensation from the copper plumbing, but it begs the question as to why it started then apparently stopped. Both the contractor that I hired and I also felt the mold appeared to be dormant and that it had been there for a long time, possibly from a prior leak that had since been resolved, reinforced in that we had just been through a rainy period and there was no moisture in the interstitial wall area. Furthermore, the closets did not appear to have been re-done as part of the condo conversion, i.e. nails instead of screws, unknown sheetrock manufacturer. I later confirmed this with the developer. Also, what is certain is that the mold was not related to my water heater - my leak was instantaneous, not a slow leak, as determined by my getting into the closet on a daily basis for cleaning gear and other goods. Nevertheless, having a 4 year old child and having concerns about health issues related to mold, I removed the remaining portion of the south closet wall sheetrock up to the ceiling, inspected the east and west walls and found no mold in those locations, took photos, had my contractor abate the mold on the backside of 202's sheetrock and complete repairs (i.e. new insulation, sheetrock, mud/tape/sand, re-seal floor, new linoleum, new baseboard molding, texture walls and paint) so that a new water heater could be installed. I kept a sample of the moldy sheetrock for testing. You suggested the HOA should pay for testing. The next day the Owners in 202 delivered a letter informing me they had changed their minds and intend to replace their sheetrock and water heater within a few weeks.

Please let me know your intentions for replacing your water heater and advise on the overall issues as our HOA insurer, i.e. timely replacement of other unit water heaters, testing the mold sample, determining the source of leak causing the mold, and inspecting for mold in other units.

Thank you.


I noticed we had a new green dumpster. Looks like the other multi-family residential buildings on the block had their dumpsters changed out as well. Do you know anything about this?

What is the volume (CY) of the new dumpster? Visually it looks smaller than the previous dumpster. Furthermore, there is a steel angle on the inside so the actual internal volume is smaller than what it would be based on the outside dimensions. I believe our previous beige dumpster was a 3/4 CY. You may recall I had the original 1 CY reduced to meet our budget years back and that seemed to work out. However, if the new green dumpster is smaller, is it sufficient? It sure seems like we used every last bit of space in the one we had.

Also, what is the rate now? What was it? And what's our account number - when I called they didn't have a record based on the address.

Last, I've noticed large items next to our dumpster on occasion. The most recent was a mattress which was leaned on the neighbors fence to the east, then moved to the telephone poll by our dumpster. Was this ours? Are we paying for other people's trash? Can you see these kinds of things on the bill when it happens?


Thanks for your quick response. I called Waste Management – the phone number on the dumpster, and they didn’t have the info. Makes sense to call SPU.

It sure looks like the new dumpster is smaller, especially with the steel angle inside that’s makes the actual volume smaller than the exterior dimensions. Might just seem smaller though – we’ll have to see if we run out of room in the next few weeks.

Good to know about the illegal dumping phone number. Curious, how many ‘extra pickups’ in the last year?

Yes, we still have ¾ CY. Sandy the inspector said the new models are narrower on the bottom as I noticed but the overall geometry still pencils out to ¾ CY. The steel baffle inside is used to convert the 1 CY to ¾ CY. Joy at SPU also noted we had 3 extra dump charges since 2011 but that this may not include our most recent bill or bill in progress (I didn’t ask her to look any further back). The most recent was on 1/5/12 for $25.80 and I asked her to give us a credit as there was no collection that week due to snow and she agreed. However, it could have been a real charge, just a week off, as there was a week around that time period with dozens of cardboard boxes from Mac’s new 301 rental tenant and a Christmas tree stuffed whole into the dumpster (trees are supposed to be cut up into small pieces and placed in greenwaste or laid whole at the side of dumpsters for a specific time period following Christmas). The other charges were from 3/17/11 and 8/25/11. Also, I saw a mattress by our dumpster a few weeks ago so keep an eye out for an extra on our next bill. I first saw the mattress leaning on the east fence of our new neighbor to the east, then it migrated to the telephone pole between their house and our building. So, the info you got for the illegal dumping phone number is good and we should call it when necessary to avoid extra charges. Also, we should first make sure it’s not 633 owners or tenants, and if it is, suggest they take care of the extras at the local landfill or if they choose to overstuff or set extras adjacent to the 633 dumpster, make sure they notify the board and cover the costs. Last, SPU suggested we call to repaint the dumpster whenever it gets tagged with graffiti. I said I worried the taggers would get mad and switch to private property such as natural wood fences or building exteriors which aren’t easy and more expensive to clean. However, Sandy said they’ve found taggers lose interest if the dumpsters get painted regularly as they want their tags to be visible. The jury’s out for me on this one. Your thoughts?

A white contractor van was parked in my unit's 201 parking stall this morning 4/4/12 at 9:15 AM, lic # 807367Z. There was no company logo on the van but it appeared to be an electrical contractor as electrical gear was visible in the van. My wife and 6 month son had just come home from dropping off our daughter at school and could not park. My wife called me at work and told me about the van and I asked her to knock on the other units before calling Jim's Northgate Towing. She found the van's owner in your unit and he moved the van. We're flexible of course and want to be supportive of 633 neighbors but this type of inconvenience is especially tough with a baby so please pass on to your contractor to avoid parking in the 201 stall, although we're fine with occasional quick, attended drop offs of materials – just so all it takes is a quick honk for someone to move and we don’t have to go look for anyone.
I’m not glad about what happened to you but I am glad you take issue with it. Note I complained about this happening to me a few times but didn’t get any support and followed through by setting up the towing arrangement with Jim’s Northgate Towing for the Newbury North years ago. Although unauthorized parking does not occur these days with my family’s stalls as it years ago, it has continued to occur on occasion and it’s very frustrating. In good faith, I have always tried to check with owners/renters, which I did as I politely mentioned to you via email (btw, no response from you) when my wife with baby, who called me out of a meeting at work, knocked on all doors at my request and found that your contractor was parked in my family’s spot on 4/4/12 at 9:15 AM (white van, license plate 807367Z). Your contractor is not the first owner/renter associate we’ve had to ask to move; in fact, it’s often visitors who either didn’t know or were ‘just going to be there for a minute’ that turned into much more. I try to let those visiting my family know not to park in other owner/renter spots. In fact, we often move our car for visitors in advance of their arrival, but I can see there’s a possibility that this could innocently happen with unexpected/ uninformed visitors, thus my practice of knocking on doors. So, I’ll try to stay with this practice but admit it is extremely inconvenient and impractical late in the evening. When I was single, especially when coming home tired at night after travel or working late, out of frustration and fatigue, I often just opted to leave a note informing the car owner of the unauthorized parking, that they were subject to towing at the their expense, and I would end up parking on the street until they moved. Now with children and less flexibility I am more inclined to resort to towing and on at least one occasion have had a tow truck remove a vehicle from my family’s stall and have called but cancelled on at least two other occasions when the car owners showed up prior to the tow truck arriving (neither were owner/tenant associates of our building but those of nearby homes, condos or apartments). Last, when dropping off groceries or kids I have on occasion parked perpendicularly at the alley edge behind my wife’s car with hopefully enough room for those on the opposite sides to get in/out while moving groceries or kids into the house and I limit this to a few minutes.