Saturday, November 12, 2005

Goodbye Grandma Curtains!

Well, Grandma finally left the building and she took those hideous curtains with her! I am SOOOO happy to be rid of those ugly things. I might have a burning party soon just to make sure they never end up in anyone else's hands. Come to think of it, I should have received a discount for letting the previous owner leave them behind. Anyway, I ordered my new blinds (2 inch faux wood) from They were really reasonable - around $20-30 per window with free shipping. I only made one measuring mistake with the kitchen's about an inch off. So I have to remember not to pull any of the strings otherwise the whole apparatus will come crashing down! I'll just have to order a new one. Installing blinds is actually a pretty easy task once you get the hang of it. It only requires a drill. One tip is to hammer the screw in part way so you don't risk drilling your finger. It's quite easy to do since you're working at such a weird angle. If any of you are going to pay someone to install your blinds, call me first..I'll do it!

I also got rid of the apartment style vertical blinds and replaced them with some snazzy, modern looking sliders from IKEA. They are super cool and make the place look brighter and more refreshing. The only bummer was that the rod only came in one size which was just a tad too short for the length of my sliding glass door. So I had to buy two rods and busted out the hacksaw to cut off a foot-long peice. Unfortunately, I didn't have that vice thingy or whatever it's called where it holds the peice you're cutting straight, so I ended up with a crooked rod. Being the perfectionist I am, I had a friend recut a new peice (thanks Kevin!). It looks much better now!

Friday, November 11, 2005

26.2 miles to a Tiffany Necklace

I completed the Nike Women's marathon on 10/23 up in San Francisco. It was my third 26.2 mile race! Only this time, the finisher's medal was actually a cute Tiffany's necklace packaged in the famous blue box, served to me by a tall, dark, handsome stranger in a tuxedo when I crossed the finish line. Too bad I wasn't looking my best, all red-faced, sweaty and limpy. Oh well. The race course was beautiful - started in Union Square to Embarcadero, through the Marina and Golden Gate Park to the Great Highway along Ocean Beach and around Lake Merced. This was a rather "posh" race - there was an oxygen bar, chocolate mile, pedi-care station and cell phone zone where a guy would dial whomever you wanted and actually run next to you until you were done talking. Not your typical hardcore marathon. I ran the whole way with my friend Amie. Unfortunatley, our training plan was lacking due to busy work and travel schedules. We didn't do many hill workouts and there were a few doozies along the way. We ran up them all...oww. Needless to say, we were huring pretty badly during the last 5 mile stretch. It hurt to stop. It hurt to walk. It hurt to run. Let's just say I was a little sore afterward..ok, a lot sore. It didn't help that I had to get on a flight to Boston after the race, I wouldn't recommend traveling after running a marathon unless you have access to vicoden or some other form of prescription painkillers. It was a blast though, I'll definitely do it again next year. I hear there's a different Tiffany necklace each year. By the way, I saw on eBay that this year's necklace auctioned off for over $300. Hmm, maybe I should sell mine. Nah, I worked too hard and endured way too much pain during those last 5 grueling miles at the end to give it up for money.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Tigers and a Canyon

I went to a Detroit Tigers baseball game after a recruiting event at University of Michigan. They ended up beating the Chicago White Sox 3-1. Comerica Park is pretty nice, it reminded me a lot of the Giants stadium, except for the fact that food and drinks were cheap - I bought a 24 ounce beer for only $8! Granted, my only choices were Labbatts Blue and Bud Light, but I wasn't in a position to be complaining. There are also beer vendors who sell large refreshing 24 ouncers in the seats, so it works out well if you're too lazy to walk back up to the concessions. Detroit could pass for Gotham City once the sun goes down. It was kind of eerie to see the skyline during the game as the sun was going down. I was waiting for the bat signal to flash up in the sky. You can tell that Detroit was once a bustling city back in the day, it was sad to see all the buildings vacant and boarded up. I really hope the city can be revitalized. My next stop was University of Arizona. After the event, we drove to the Phoenix area and stayed in oldtown Scottsdale. The next morning, we went running..I only lasted about 20 minutes because it was so hot outside I thought my lungs were collapsing. Then we drove up to the Grand Canyon which took about 4 hours. It was definitely worth the trip. What an incredible sight it was!

Monday, September 26, 2005

Hippies and Rednecks Unite

I've been on a "US Tour" for work and have visited five universities in the past two weeks (Wisconisin, Cornell, MIT, Michigan, Arizona). Whew, that's a lot of travel! It's a bit exhausting, but the nice thing about my job is that I can fit in some fun in between cities. I spent last weekend in the big state of Texas for the Austin City Limits music festival ( I almost canceled my trip due to Hurricane Rita. It was all over the news that Austin was out of gas and water due to the massive amounts of people fleeing from Houston. The meterologists had escalated the storm to a level 5 (it turned out to be only a level 1) and my travel agent called to see if I wanted to change my plans due to the possiblity of diverting flights into and out of Austin making it difficult to leave. Hmm...what to do? I decided to take a chance and went ahead with my plans. I met up with current and old co-workers so it was kind of like a reunion. ACL is a three day concert extravaganza held in Zilker Park consisting of 8 different stages to suit all genres, as well as food and art booths galore. It was awesome. I'd never seen so many people in one place in my entire life. Apparently AMD is trying to move to the Barton Springs area of Austin which is considered "sacred" - natural cold springs. There were lots of "Keep Austin Weird" people protesting, wearing anti-AMD shirts at the concert, while watching their favorite bands play on the AMD sponsored stage. It was rather amusing. Some of the bands we saw included: Death Cab for Cutie, Jet, Oasis, Wilco, Franz Ferdinand, Coldplay. They all sounded amazing. The Gallagher brothers of Oasis got into a couple fights which was quite entertaining. They played a lot of their old stuff which was great. I'm not a huge fan of Coldplay (the headliner), but they really put on a good show as well. Chris Martin was very engaging with the crowd and at one point he climbed up onto some scaffolding so he could get a better look at the audience. They played for an hour and a half and I recognized almost every song. I was highly impressed. The only downfall was the heat (100s) and humidity. And the dust. It was rather disgusting how dirty were were at the end of the night. I felt like that Pigpen character from Peanuts. On the last day of the festival, it had gotten so dusty that people starting walking around with bandanas or painting masks around their noses and mouths. I'll keep that in mind for next year. The mass exodus at the end was a little overwhelming, just imagine 65,000 people (many of them highly intoxicated) trying to get out out of a narrow opening. Morbid thoughts started going through my head mostly involving the possiblity of getting trampled. ACL rocked, I'm definitely going back again next year!!

Monday, September 19, 2005

Spectacular Stainless Steel

If you have been checking my blog at all over the past month or so, you probably have come to the conclusion that I'm either working on a huge fabulous upgrade or I'm lazy and have been doing nothing at all. The truth is that work has me traveling a lot and I haven't had much time to focus on home improvement projects lately. The people at Home Depot miss me, I just know it. I was able to visit my favorite store last weekend and successfully made a couple purchases. I bought a new dishwasher and fridge (stainless steel of course!), both made by GE and Energy Star rated. The new appliances will cost less than $40 each in energy bills per year to operate...I wonder how much of an improvement that is from the original 1983 models. See Jeff testing out the new fridge below (note that we have multiple uses for the vegetable crisper drawer).

After the installation guys left, I decided it was time to try and put in the beautiful new Kohler kitchen faucet (model: Forte brushed nickel w/pull out spray head) that my friend Sharmy sent me as a housewarming gift. I thought it would be best to read the instructions first since I would be messing around with the plumbing under the kitchen sink. It didn't sound that difficult, maybe a total of 10 steps or so. I made it to the first step - shutting off the water supply and then I had to call in Jeff. I'm so lucky to have a handy roommate, his mom taught him well! Jeff got under the sink to loosen the old leaky faucet which had rusted all the way through to the sink itself. It was quite nasty as you can see:

The kitchen is now one step closer to being finished. I'm still contemplating on whether or not to paint the walls and cabinets. I might also get a new stove/microwave combo; although my current one is growing on me, it's quite retro looking don't you think?

Monday, August 08, 2005

Living in Style

I think I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!! My place is somewhat taking the shape of an actual home instead of a never-ending construction site. The living room is finally in decent condition. It's such a good feeling being able to come home and not worry about tripping over one of the many tools lying around on the floor. Did you know that you can find some really good home decor items on It's my new favorite online shopping site. I do feel bad for kicking Jeff's old couch out (sorry, Jeff), but at least we have a garage to store it in. By the way, if you know anyone who is looking for a couch and/or coffee table, let us now! The place is definitely coming together. What do you know...I may be even be able to have friends over soon. :)

Here are some before and after pics:

Monday, August 01, 2005

New Tile Floor

Woo hoo, Tile Day had arrived! First and foremost, I would like to thank my wonderful friends, Paula and Alex, for helping me out with this project. Especially Alex since he pretty much did all the work - Paula and I were his assistants but we were helpful too. I definitely couldn't have done it without you guys. I'd also like to thank my friend (and soon-to-be co-worker) Alan, who thought he was just visiting San Jose for a fun new hire event but got roped into "volunteering" to help out. We started bright and early at 7:30am on Saturday morning. Yes, you read that correctly, 7:30am. First, we had to finish ripping out the the plywood backerboard in the kitchen and pull up all remaining staples. That took us about 2 hours. I'm surprised I didn't find any hate letters taped to my door from angry neighbors, we were so loud. I learned that I really like the "cat's paw"-a tool that was quite useful in pulling out the staples and very fun to use. I thought about buying one for myself, but I just didn't think I'd put it to good use. I mean, how many times will I need to pull out staples that are nailed to the floor?

Once the floor was cleaned up and ready to go, we nailed down the backerboard and Alex determined the appropriate tile lay out.

Then it was time to cut the tile (thanks, Patrick for letting me borrow your saw!!) and mix the mortar adhesive stuff. We ended up using "speedy set" which dries in an hour versus regular mortar which takes 24 hours. That meant that we (or rather, Alex) would have to work fast otherwise it would dry up and we wouldn't be able to to move the tile if it was crooked. I wouldn't recommend using speedy set unless you absolutely have to. It was rather stressful.

After the tile was set, we started applying grout. This was a pretty messy process. I felt like I was a kid playing in the mud. Doesn't it look like fun!?

After a long day of work and only several trips to HD, I finally had a brand new floor. It was so worth it! Here are the before and after pics:

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Demolition Derby

In preparation for tile day, I started ripping out the linoleum tonight with the help of my nice roommate Jeff. I have a newfound respect for those who have careers in manual labor. Maybe I'm a wimp but after about a measly hour and a half of work, I had endured my fair share of pain and suffering along with battle wounds: 4 scratches on my legs, blisters on my fingers, a sore bum from accidentally sitting on the crowbar, and a backache. Poor Jeff even had a bloody scrape on his knee. I'm such a horrible "landlord", putting him to work and making him live in such a dangerous, messy habitat. I didn't realize how many layers of crap were covering the floor - linoleum from circa 1996, underlayment, linoleum from 1985, and plywood backerboard (or whatever it's called). It was fun and relatively easy to tear off the first 3 layers, but prying off the plywood backerboard proved to be a difficult task. We spent the majority of our time attacking the stubborn plywood with various tools and forms of demolition - crowbar, hammer, screwdriver, pounding, kicking, name it, we tried it. Don't worry, I made sure my downstairs neighbor Mark wasn't home while all of this was happening. I had to take a break - I was hot, sweaty, and tired. While sipping a Michigan beer and wiping sweat off my forehead, I stepped back to take a look at what I had done to my floor and wondered if I was doing the right thing. Maybe the linoleum wasn't so bad afterall. Oh well, too late now. Back to work on the plywood. After further digging, it turned out that the sheets of wood were stapled down with one inch hefty industrial strength wonder it was so tough to break through. Excellent, those will be a joy to pull up. We managed to finish taking out the plywood in the entry way, but decided to stop since there is a noise ordinance for the condo complex and it was getting late. Plus, we didn't want for our neighbors to hate us, afterall we are still newbies.

Friday, July 22, 2005

In Over My Head?

As you can see to the right, one of my "upcoming projects" is laying tile. I'm planning to rip out the old hideous linoleum in the kitchen and entry way and replace it with some nice looking ceramic tile. I was ecstatic to start this mission...until I found out how much work is involved! I thought you could just slap on the new tile with some special glue and voila!'ve got yourself a new fancy looking kitchen floor. Wishful thinking. After talking to several tile installation veterans, I learned that it was going to be a bigger project than I thought. First, you have to remove the linoleum (no problem, I can handle a crowbar!). Then you have to lay down Wonderboard, which are 1/2" thick sheets of cement based material used as a backing for the tile. Of course, there will be another saw involved to cut through the Wonderboard because it naturally won't fit perfectly, but that's OK because I've come to realize that I actually like using power saws. After drilling the Wonderboard down, you're ready to start laying the tile. This is going to be the fun part! First, you should plan out how you're going to lay the tile. You'll have to cut some of them with a wet tile saw. Jeez, how many types of saws do they make anyway? It seems like you need a different saw for every little thing you do; someone should really invent an "all-purpose" saw that can be used for ALL home improvement projects. Sorry, I digress...where was I? Oh yes, so once your tiles are ready, you have to mix the thinset (adhesive) and spread it on top of the Wonderbread, I mean board. I've also heard that you can spread it on the tiles individually so you don't get frantic and worried about it drying out too fast if you're slow at laying tile. I think I will choose this option. You also have to put down 1/4" spacers in between each tile for the grout. Once the floor is tiled, you can fill in the space with grout. Then all that's left is grout sealer and the curing process, which is basically spraying the grout with water over the next couple days. I hear this part isn't necessary but probably a good idea to preserve the life of the tile, so we'll see how ambitious I am. Whew! I actually feel better after writing out all the steps although you are probably bored out of your mind by now. All I have to say is that I'm very thankful to know people who know about this stuff (and have tools).

Looks like I'm going to have another fun shopping extravaganza at the HD on Friday night, maybe I can make a new friend in the tile section this time. If any of you have tips to share on this project, I'd love to hear them! And Jeff, if you are reading this, I apologize in advance for the big mess I'm about to make of the kitchen. Brace yourself!

Here are before pictures of the kitchen/entry way floor.