ACL 2012

Austin City Limits music festival came and went, in Zilker Park, Austin, Texas – 3 days, 8 stages and over 130 bands. We were there with a group of fun people, about 13 of us. Mike and I rented a nice house from Lakeview, TX. It is outside Austin 40-60min from there depending on the traffic. Mike, his nieces and I stayed at the house while the others stayed at the Driskill hotel in downtown Austin (our usual hangout). I did not take whole lot of photos but here are few from my flight to Austin, the house we stayed in, Driskill bar (at the hotel), Juan in a Million (place we had breakfast with Mike’s relatives, and of course couple from the event itself.

Thank you Brandee, Kelly, Kristle, Michelle, Rebecca, Bill, Cliff, Forrest, Jeff, Mike (both), and Robert for the good times!!

Project Patio

Our hot tub started to leak – yes, another water problem but this actually happened long time ago. We were still able to use it for a while but then the leaking got worse. Nobody could figure out where the leak was so we finally decided to shut the whole thing down. It’s been sitting there empty for at least year, maybe two now.

We decided we are going to take it out and redo the part of the patio (the hot tub was sunken in the patio), and make it to a platform for patio furniture or an outdoor fire place or pit.

Couple of weeks I had couple of friends over. We used a reciprocating saw to cut the hot tub in pieces and took the whole thing to the dump.

So it went from this

to this, roughly an 8ft by 8ft hole filled with crushed concrete.

Couple of days ago I created couple options for the design pattern to use for our platform.

patio design ideas

Yesterday, Donna & I rented a truck and made a visit to Home Depot to get some supplies for the patio project. We bought 190 charcoal 5.8″Lx5.8″Wx2.4″H pavers, 70 Red-Charcoal 7.8″Lx3.9″Wx2.4″H pavers, 30 bags of paver sand (1500 lbs, huh?), and rented a vibrating compactor and a diamond blade saw to cut the pavers (it turned out the pavers made almost perfect fit so we ended up not using the saw at all). We hauled all this stuff home and unloaded it to our backyard. I initially had thought we would only need about 16 bags of the sand as I had planned on putting in some paver base in first and use 1″ layer of sand on top of that. But then I figured a foot and half layer of crushed concrete should be good enough for the base, so we ended using double amount of sand from the original plan.

First, we compacted the crushed concrete base with the compactor, then in three sections, we laid down about 2 inches of sand, leveled it, and pounded in the pavers using a soft mallet. When that was done we filled in the gaps with paver sand and then I used the compactor again to pound in the pavers little more.

So here is the end result.

Patio project completed

and with couple of chairs and a table with a built-in fire pit on the patio.

2012-08-03 Patio project completed with furniture on

Phew! What a way to spend 8 hours in blaring 85-90 degrees Fahrenheit sunshine.

A problem after another, repeatedly – sigh…

Those water leak problems I mentioned in one of my earlier posts just seem to follow me now. Couple of years back I switched our Internet access from DSL to Verizon FIOS (now Frontier). When the Verizon crew came to our house to lay the fiber down from the curb to the house they started digging a trench for the cable. I was not home but Donna was and told them to be careful not to break the sprinkler pipes as they were down there as well. They acknowledged and continued the project. Donna went inside and five minutes later the guy is knocking on the door saying.. um, I think I broke the sprinkler pipe.

We close the valve & they call their other guys to come and fix the pipe. They finished the work and left. Donna went out and turned the water on and water is bursting from the ground. Their fix was no good. They came back the same day and fixed it again, and now it all seemed to work fine.

Now, couple of years later we had water company guys at our curb and knocking on the door and telling us we have leak somewhere in the house. We discovered it was the sprinkler pipe again as suspected it is the same fix two years before that just cave in and probably broke again.

We called in a sprinkler company guys to come and check it out and fix it. They arrived 7am this morning. And sure enough, the fix cable company had done two years back was leaking again. So now the sprinkler guys started digging. You might guess where this is going. We told them to be careful as the fiber cable is down there near the sprinkler pipe. We went inside leaving them to do their work.

While inside, I was checking on my emails and seemed to have some trouble getting on the Internet. I reset my WiFi router as there was some thundering going on as well and I thought maybe my network got in a bad state because of that. Nope, that did not help. I tried accessing mail on my mobile phone without WiFi. Works fine. Wait, landline phone is not working either (it is on the same fiber cable). Can’t be just coincidence. I went outside to check…Yup, the boys broke the fiber cable. Also, a bit surprising that the Verizon guys laid down the cable with no conduit around it to protect it from incident like this.

Called Frontier and they were helpful but won’t have technician available until on Monday. So our phone & Internet are down until at least Monday or Tuesday.


Sorry, it’s the law!

I can’t believe what some laws in this state allow and enable. There is  a possibility of getting a construction lien put against our house and here’s how it happened.

We had some water damage at the house due to broken valve in the waterline going to our fridge. As a result, a small part of the hardwood floor downstairs under the fridge had to be replaced and the whole floor sanded and refinished to it match evenly. Luckily, our insurance covers this and we only had to pay for the deductible. The insurance company, Farmers in this case, has a flooring program to handle cases like this. CCA Global Partners is part of that program and was hired for the project. They in turn contracted JB Factory Carpets for the job, who then subcontracted Newport Floors to do the actual work.

The guys at Newport Floors were nice and professional, and worked their asses off to complete this labor intensive project. Farmers paid JB Factory Carpets and all is good, right? Not exactly, apparently JB Factory Carpets closed their doors and went out of business, and did not pay Newport Floors a dime. In fact, they owe Newport Floors for 10 different jobs that went unpaid. The only option for Newport Floors is to put a construction lien against our house in order to try to recover from the situation and get paid, because the state of Washington law allows that. I understand what the intention of the law here is but seems a bit odd that our family as the end customer and a hard working small family company (Newport Floors) have to suffer from this and try to resolve the situation. Also, despite the fact that we had very little to do of who got hired to do the job.

“Under Washington law, those who furnish labor, professional services, materials, or equipment for the repair, remodel, or alteration of your owner-occupied principal residence and who are not paid, have a right to enforce their claim for payment against your property. This claim is known as a construction lien.”

“A common method to avoid construction lien: Dual paychecks (payment to all parties including the prime contractor & subcontractors).”

Luckily, it seems Farmers is taking responsibility and is trying to sort this out. Hopefully they will take care of this and also make sure the guys at Newport Floors will get paid, they’ve certainly earned their money.

Go figure. All in safe hands? Maybe not.

Mid-Winter afternoon in Kuusamo, Finland – 2001

Mia painted an oil painting for Father’s Day for me. She gave it to me in advance since she won’t be home for Father’s Day. She is going to Philadelphia for the summer on the 13th. When she showed me the painting she did not have to explain what or where it was about, I knew it immediately when I saw it. It is based on photo from December 2001 at our cabin in Kuusamo, Finland when we spent the Christmas holidays there. The photo was taken on an early afternoon when it is still light but the lighting is getting very limited even though the sun was out that day. She based her painting on both the original photo, and an edited version of with lighter exposure and more shadows. The painting came out beautiful and it really captures well the atmosphere and the lighting conditions that day, including the temperature that was around 30 degrees Celsius below zero (that’s about -22 degrees Fahrenheit).

So here are the painting and the two photos it is based on. You’ll also notice that the photo has something on it that did not make it to the painting. It is an old fashioned sledge (Hoijakka) in the ice of the frozen lake. My uncle, Kalevi, made it for the kids to enjoy (and for all kid minded too) .

Mia’s Artwork – Spring 2012

Mia did some new artwork at school this year and they are looking great. The first one is called “The Remains of Beauty” which I think was inspired by some of the  art we have seen on our trips to Mexico. The second one is called “The Whisk” – I gave it the name since Mia said it does not really have name. Maybe it was inspired by all the cooking we do at home?

The Remains of Beauty – by Mia

The Whisk – by Mia

Mr. Niikkonen and his family were flood victims at Marriott Residence Inn while escaping the water damage getting fixed at their home

Marriott Residence Inn, Redmond Towncenter

Redmond News Stories
Local news for Redmond, WA – updated from at least one source occasionally

Mr. Niikkonen  and his family were flood victims at Marriott Residence Inn while escaping the water damage getting fixed at their home

On Tuesday, Mr. Niikkonen had relocated himself and his dog to the Marriott Residence Inn in Redmond Town Center (RTC), also including the rest of the family and the cat. The family had escaped to the hotel while the mess from water damage is getting fixed at their home. The damage was caused by a leaking refrigerator pipe carrying water for the ice maker. The family was staying (or actually packed) in a small two bedroom suite during they stay in RTC. Apparently, during their first night, Mr. Niikkonen woke up around 4:00am for some reason, and noticed their dog behaving strangely. He got up starting to search and look around what might be causing the dog’s behavior. He soon discovered that the whole carpet in their room was soaking wet. They had a serious leak in their room from above, possibly caused by the heavy rain on the previous evening and during the night. “Well, I can’t believe this is happening to us again”, Mr. Niikkonen had noted but he was not available to further comment on the incident. After taking their children to school he and his wife had to relocate their belongings again but this time luckily only to a different room in the same hotel. The new room is significantly larger than the first one so there was a bit of good luck in this stressful event. Also, to relief their stress, the hotel property coordinator had left a kind note apologizing the inconvenience the Niikkonen’s had to experience, a gift basket (including treats for the dog and the cat), and a gift certificate for a free stay at the hotel on any weekend. Editor’s note: Rumor is, Mr. Niikkonen had earlier joked to his wife about having leek in the kitchen but her having not to worry, since he was going to put it in the soup he was making. The superstitious might say both incidents might have been result from making that joke.