So Just How Bad Was The Old Deck?

Throughout this saga, I haven’t really taken the time to establish a benchmark around why even bother to spend millions of dollars and billions of man hours replacing some rectangular boards with … other rectangular boards.

When this project was still [apparently] picking up steam in 2008, I snapped a bunch of photos of the old deck to document its design and condition. Would you like to see them? SUPER!

Here are two shots of the entire structure, the first looking Southish, the second looking, uh, Northy:

From these angles, there is little to indicate any impending catastrophes (aside from the wildly out-of-code balusters; must be less than 4″ apart). What I did not capture in the photos to follow:

  • There was no flashing between the deck and the house. This may seem trivial for the uninitiated, but it is a one-way ticket to a rotten deck and rotten house. Someone throws a party and suddenly there are 30 people on your deck; fast forward to EMTs pulling bodies out of deck rubble. I will go into much greater detail about flashing in a subsequent post (with pictures!).
  • There were about half as many bolts holding the deck to the house as there should have been. This alone is not a reason to tear the whole thing down–I could have added bolts pretty easily. The point is, EMTs pulling bodies out of deck rubble.
  • Now then, let’s take a closer look.

    Notice how the south end features a sweet-ass wall, likely intended for privacy. I try to stem the rage by thinking back to 1985 when the neighborhood was being born. The trees were likely a lot smaller and more sparse 26 years ago, so a privacy wall might have seemed like a good idea. In practice, it was mostly an exercise in WTF.

    The sun pounded the outside and top of the wall somewhere between 21 and 29 hours a day, while never once so much as kissing the inside. For a structure made of interior-grade 2x4s and cedar siding, this was a recipe for success.

    Here is a better look at the wall from the outside:

    Aaaand, the inside, complete with cosmetic siding repairs done by moi because the siding was already rotting when we moved in:

    Here’s a shot up the top of the wall. Looks fine to me:

    Here is the wall’s killing field. This is as much sun as this part of the deck/house ever received. Couple this with the lack of flashing and … let’s just say lingering moisture was stoked:

    As you can see from the first two photos at the top of the page, this was not what one would generally call a “small” deck. Yet, somehow it was infuriatingly tiny. The deck ran the entire length of the house (45′), yet here are the views from either end:

    ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? Look at that spot between the chimney and the railing. I’ll tell you: Not much more than four feet. What the hell good is any section of deck anywhere that only extends four feet from the house? I could maybe see it if that little span connected two large usable areas, but this is the usable space we’re talking about here:

    I just … I am getting angry all over again going through these photos. Why would you … god damnit.

    Let’s close it out with a series of super-fun photos titled, “Why They Invented Homeowner’s Insurance.”

    The steps don’t look too terrible, until you notice there is no center stringer supporting, you know, the part where people walk up and down the stairs. The squeaks from these over-extended boards sounded like they were saying, “You’re fat, you’re fat, you’re fat, you’re fat”:

    Also, the stairs weren’t attached to the concrete pad at the bottom, but don’t worry about that:

    I don’t really know what is going on here. I just always assumed this part of the railing was only for decoration:

    Again. What.

    Oh, here’s a good time. Holding the deck up were an assortment of powder-coated iron poles, much like the ones you see used [primarily] in interior basements:

    At first glance, one would think, Dude, awesome. My deck is being held up by IRON POSTS. EFF A BUNCH OF STUPID TERMITE BAIT. IRON. Despite the powder coating, all of the iron posts were rusted at the bottom, as a result of, you know, iron living outside with rain and Georgia humidity. Also, we discovered during demolition that the iron posts were not in any way attached to the cement footers. An ambitious meth head could have kicked the deck over. I have actually contemplated contacting the previous homeowners about this part because it is so shady. Let’s just say this project has made me a more conscientious homeowner.

    Finally, the picture you’ve all been waiting for … The Cobra:

    In the photo above, I would say the Cobra is at roughly half mast. When it was persistently rainy, he would lie down flat, even with the other boards. During long hot, dry spells, however, he would rise up so high that the two “fangs” would point right at you. That we let the Cobra exist, as is, from 2003 to 2011 is a testament to how often we visited that end of the deck.

    As I sit here typing this, the new deck is nearly complete, so a lot of the rage is retrospective, which I think is good. Still, I am very glad to be able to get these pictures down “on paper” as it were.

    Random Search Strings

    I’ve stopped doing a monthly search string post because there haven’t been enough good new ones the past several months to justify a quality post each month. And come one, people, I am all about the quality. That said, I was just poking around in the stats files and some of these made me chuckle. My mother taught me to share:

    Continue reading

    I promise this is the last post about frigging muxtapes

    This parody muxtape comes pretty close to summing up the old guy angst I was trying to convey in this post (via Wired).

    Despite my initial whining, I have very much enjoyed touring through muxtapes of friends and strangers alike this week. My enjoyment is derived from A) analyzing people’s mixes (muxes?) as a singular entity and using it to judge the shit out of them, and B) getting to hear so much good new (to me) music.

    It should come as no surprise that my muxtape is the best one on the internet, but despite my Federer-like dominance, I encourage everyone to post a muxtape. C’mon, we can judge each other. It’ll be fun.

    My chompers. Let me show you them.

    I went to the dentist on Tuesday. It was super awesome, that is, if you like things like child abuse and genital mutilation. Someone give me some background information:

    You may or may not remember my last post about going to the dentist. Basically, gum disease had started to set in as is the case with so many people my age and I had to endure a process known as scaling. It involves scraping and flushing the area between your gums and teeth. Rusty has an excellent description complete with diagrams here. In a word, it fucking sucks.

    My problem then, however, was not with the actual process. I’ve had almost every dental procedure in the book and I don’t like to waste time getting all worked up about it. So, you’re going to give me some injections and saw on my head for a couple hours. What. Ever. My problem was with the attitude of the hygienist and assistants who performed the procedure. I found their tone to be unnecessarily condescending and patronizing, and I found her (the hygienist’s) technique to be heavy-handed and crude. The initial scaling was performed almost exactly three years ago. They sent me home with a pre-bedtime antibacterial mouthwash (which tasted like my cat’s ear) and set me up with a barrage of follow-up appointments. I performed the required maintenance despite fuming with rage every night at how utterly disgusting the mouthwash was and began attending the follow-up appointments.

    Every time I went back for a follow-up appointment I was met with the same condescending attitude and heavy-handed technique. I would show up, and despite the diagnosis being that everything in my mouth had stabilized, the hygienist and her assistants seemed to want to shame me into healthy teeth by making me feel guilty and ignorant. It would all conclude with me paying them hundreds of dollars.

    Finally, I just snapped. Because my insurance was a DMO and they were listed as my PCD, they were the only place I could visit without going through the complicated process of switching PCDs. So, during a routine appointment confirmation call, my eyes clouded over and I said, “You know what? Cancel that appointment. I won’t be coming in.” when asked if I would like to reschedule, I said, “Yes, I will call you when I want another appointment.”

    You can probably see where this is going. The correct response is to slowly shake your head and say, “Oh, Tony Toni TonĂ©. You dumb bastard.” For the record, I brush every single morning, and every single evening, and I floss in bursts, meaning I will floss every night for like 3 weeks and then slack off and stop flossing for like 2 months. But, no, I will not try to sugar coat the fact that, until Tuesday, I hadn’t been to the dentist in almost 3 years. They were really mean, and I changed jobs and insurance, etc, but the net result is that I am a jerk.

    You ready for some comedy? Recently I started to feel some sensitivity to cold in a couple molars, so I decided it was time to quit jerking around and let a professional in there. I got a great recommendation from a coworker and I called to set up an appointment. I was informed that they did accept insurance from my provider, but they did not accept the DMO variety, which is what I have. After some additional research, I realized I was going to have to go see the dental office listed on my insurance card as the PCD. I’ll give you one guess who that is.


    This time around has been a MUCH different experience. I was up front with my ignorant behavior and the (different) hygienist didn’t make me feel like a bad Labrador as a result. He had me wear giant women’s sunglasses while he “probed my pockets,” which was pretty sweet, and then he simply gave the news like a grown up. He said he sees my condition all too often, but he didn’t blame me for slacking on flossing because, lets be honest, flossing sucks. I’m still early stage but he recommended another full scaling treatment, which I know I deserve. His attitude was at once jovial and understanding and then he would quickly get serious and say something to the effect of, “We need to nip this in the bud early or someday all your fucking teeth are gonna fall out.” I can live with that.

    The (different) dentist came in, however, and tried to ruin my afternoon. Two of my six year molars (your oldest adult teeth) are about to buy the farm. Since I was on an honesty jag, I admitted to having a nasty ice-chewing habit and then threw my arms up for protection. Rather calmly, the dentist said, “I don’t need to explain to you why ice-chewing is a recipe for disaster do I,” which I thought was a nice nod to my perceived intelligence. The molar thing is another not uncommon problem for people my age, but it will require two crowns within the next year or so. (That will be one George Bush rebate check, please.) The good news was that I didn’t have a single cavity. I was expecting more than one and bracing for as many as six or seven. Excessive for sure, but I like to prepare for the worst.

    So I’m looking at getting to know this dental office quite well over the next year or so. Which is fine, I suppose. It’s always good to get crap like this under control. I’m just glad there are nicer people performing the procedures. I don’t mind if you stab me in the face, just stab gently and don’t patronize me while doing it.

    Dreams, cars, nuts, rains

    Whoa. I had a dream last night that JP Morgan bought Bear Stearns for $2 a share and UGA won the SEC basketball tournament. How weird would that be?

    I have 4 or 5 long blog entries I’ve started but can’t seem to finish. Seems to be a recurring theme for me.

    In Miami last week, I rented a deep blue Volkswagen Rabbit 2.5 because, during the rental process, it was the first car I came upon. After a cursory pan of the lot yielded nothing but off-white Saturns, PT Cruisers, and Pontiacs, Little Bunny Foo Foo it was. A statement for the record: To date, the VW Rabbit 2.5 is officially the best car I’ve rented. It has a solid, inoffensive interior with a peppering of slightly exotic aesthetic pleasantries. It’s much more powerful than it looks, and the handling was very tight. It’s small enough to park almost anywhere but it has four doors and transported 4 adult males comfortably to and from dinner. I don’t think I’d want to own another VW any time soon because A) repairs are needlessly complicated and expensive, and B) they’re simultaneously pretentious and uninspiring. Also, I discovered they inadvertently turn even rental drivers into someone straight out of a Volkswagen commercial. Case in point: There is no obvious button or latch with which to open the hatchback. I only discovered how to open it accidentally. When a business partner couldn’t figure it out, I casually showed him. Problem was, it involves pushing in the top of the rear logo badge which causes the bottom to stick out and serve as a handle which lifts the door, a process impossible to accomplish non-smugly. My business partner looked at me as if to say, “Well isn’t that fucking fancy?” I looked back at the Rabbit and narrowed my eyes. Other than that it was super.

    I have a couple bags of nuts I keep at my desk to snack on a couple hours before lunch and/or a couple hours after lunch. One is a bag of almonds, the other a bag of pistachios. For some reason, the pistachios are unsalted and, therefore, completely unappetizing. I have to force myself to eat them. To make matters worse, every so often I’ll get a pistachio that tastes rotten. It’s like I’m doing the pistachios a favor by trying to keep them on par with the almonds and they repay me by poking me in the eye. Yet I can’t bring myself to just throw them away. I think I’m going insane.

    Apparently, it got a little windy in downtown Atlanta over the weekend. We saw a lot of lightning out in the burbs and then it rained mooses and buffaloes for a couple hours, but that was it. The new gutters we had installed a couple weeks ago seem to be working great with a few glaring exceptions. There is one part of the old gutter design that grossly violates rule #2, but it worked well. The crew who installed the new gutters changed the design to be simpler, but the new design doesn’t work (read: it sprays rain water all over Cobb County). I haven’t decided whether they adhered to rule #2 by taking a complicated design and making it simpler or if they violated rule #2 by tampering with a design that had been working properly. Regardless, I’m requesting that they come fix it. Should be a good time.


    On Saturday, I rented a wood chipper. We had amassed a huge pile of brush that included several small trees. Just look at this crap:

    Our options were:

    A) Ignore it.
    B) Take it / have it taken to the county veggie dump.
    C) Destroy it.

    The idea of spending the bulk of a precious Saturday manually hauling brush to the curb only for it to sit there for at least a week until the veggie truck comes by (I love you, Smyrna) was about as appealing as something that is not at all appealing. At all. Also, the lilly-livered, Subaru-owning, free-Tibet hippie voice in my head said, “Hey, maaaan. You should grind up that brush and keep it in your yard, maaaan. Why would you want to have some pollution-belching monster truck drive your pile of waste all over the county when you can reuse it yourself, maaaan. Put your money where your mouths is, maaaaan.” There was also my own voice in my shrieking, “WoodchipperwoodchipperwoodchipperWOODCHIPPER!!!”

    And so, it was decided.

    My target was the raised planter box pictured above that hasn’t grown anything but weeds since the Great Cornening of 2004. The goal was to convert the giant festering mass of sticks and branches into a nice, neat pile of ground-up sticks and branches. After receiving a tutorial from the tool rental facility that was essentially a long string of warnings about how expensive the machine will be to fix when I break it, I hauled it home and backed it into position. Crane taught me how to back up a vehicle with a trailer attached way back when, and I got a good bit of practice when we were on tour, but I was a little nervous about navigating the cul de sac, my driveway, and then my yard all in reverse. To my surprise, it wasn’t the horrifically frustrating trial and error I was expecting.

    Aside from one small snafu with the very first branch where I was sure I had done everything wrong and destroyed the machine, it was surprisingly anti-climatic. Branches and brush go in, wood chips come out (at like 400mph). All in all it took about 2 hours to grind almost every stick in the yard.

    I’m not naive enough to think that driving 20 miles round trip to get the chipper and then running it wide open for two hours somehow produced a smaller carbon footprint than having the municipal yard refuse truck, which drives by the house every week anyway, pick up the pile and take it to the vegetative dump for mulching / composting. But energy consumption issues aside, I do like the idea of dealing with our own waste within the limits of our property and not having a third party make the pile “disappear” like so much weekly household garbage.

    Plus … WOOD CHIPPER.

    Home Improvening

    We’ve lived in Tall Brown for a little over four years. Based on how much we’ve done to it from an improvement standpoint, you’d think we moved in last weekend. Well … those days are OVER! The pace of house humpery has been gradually increasing over the past several weeks and will continue to increase until we are either finished or broke. We are prepared for the latter because the prior is impossible. I will now talk about various activities / products that have already transpired / been purchased or are on the radar to transpire / be purchased. Everyone, buckle up. This is going to suck.

    Back in December, the bearded booty man obliterated a gigantic woody beast before it has the chance to obliterate us. Two weekends ago, he came back by asking if we had anything else he could do for us. I told him the only thing I could think of was the project of de-brushing the backyard. (By de-brushing, I essentially meant the complete annihilation of everything smaller than 6 inches in diameter.) Like all things it seems, it’s a project we’ve been meaning to tackle for the past 37 winters but were never able to muster the motivation. He quoted me yet another screaming low price so I set him to work. A few short hours later I was again wondering if I had just been horn-swoggled because it all happened so quickly. Regardless, all of the unsightly undergrowth is now in a nice giant pile waiting for the next step, which is … I am going to rent (or borrow, if possible) a wood chipper and make myself a mulch mountain. Maybe even this weekend. Should be a good time. Watch out.

    On Wednesday morning, a nice team of skilled artisans are going to replace our old, rusty gutters with new not-yet-rusty gutters. No, we are not getting gutter guards, so don’t even bother asking. And don’t leave any comments that say, “Dude, you should get gutter guards.,” or, “We got gutter guards and we love them.” If I thought we’d be in this house for 20 more years, I would consider gutter guards. As it stands, I could replace the regular gutters every year for 5 years and it would still be cheaper than gutter guards. Gutter guards need to quit kidding themselves with those hilarious prices.

    On Sunday (yesterday), I purchased a new front door for the Brown Tall one to replace the current access point, which is metal, the color of bloody stool, and accented with a small window of smoked glass and gold trim. In a word: Hate. Also, the screen door / storm door is undesirable in color and its condition could bet be described as “broke-ass.” The new door is fiberglass and I am in the process of painting it screaming fire-engine red. We are also toying with the idea of painting the trim around the door frame black. Yes, it IS very exciting.

    While we were out shopping for doors two weekends ago, we ventured out to the Home Depot clearance center. While they didn’t have any doors, they did have a 9-light wrought iron chandelier we deemed suitable for our entry way. It wouldn’t have been my first choice in a standard setting, but the price ($29) was deemed more than adequate and we bought the shit out of it. It will replace the current light, which also boasts that popular 80s motif of smoked glass and brass. Gawd. Now all I need is a wicked hella tall ladder / scaffolding system to get up that high. We’ve actually got two really high ceiling fans that need to be removed, humiliated, tortured, destroyed, and replaced with something with less SMOKED GLASS AND BRASS, so maybe I’ll rent something needlessly huge and knock them all out at once.

    We will also be redoing the back deck (and maybe the front one too) in short order. If any of you know a high-quality, fair-priced deck contractor, please leave a comment or send their info to my name at

    After the deck, hardwood floors. We are smitten with Kit and Ashley’s bamboo floors so we may follow their lead.

    After floors, kitchen and master bath.

    After all that, I imagine the pine tree we cut down in December will be 80 feet tall again and the cycle will continue.

    Taste Beer

    I have another round of beer tastings tentatively scheduled at Muss & Turners starting at the end of February. This is what is currently in the lineup:

    2/28: What is the deal with malt?
    3/6: What is the deal with hops?
    3/13: The Civil War: North vs. South (Alternate title – The South: To rise again, or be bitch-slapped … again?)

    You must make reservations. Email here or call 770-434-1114. $15 each. Lasts from 6:30ish until 8:00ish. Limited to 20 slots (the last three sold out). If you stay for dinner after the tasting, you get a 10% discount.

    I expect to see both of you there.

    Weather Harassment

    Hey, can someone tell me what the weather was like in Atlanta yesterday? I wasn’t paying attention. Did it snow? I wish someone would say something about whether or not it snowed already because I would really like to know. Did it snow? Would it kill someone to blog and twitter and flickr and myspace and faceplant about the weather already? Hello? Anyone? Did it snow?

    I hereby declare January 16th, the day after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday and the day before my sister Acceber’s birthday, to be National Frozen Leftover Soup Day. The Geester and I got our physical activity last night by bundling up and going on a brisk 3-mile hike through the inclement weather. Whilst grazing through the kitchen for nourishment upon our return, we came across this treasure trove:

    The two bright ones in the middle are leftover chili from a pre-Chomp and Stomp practice batch. Ah, the sweet, spicy taste of utter defeat. Lingering grudges aside, leftover soup was pretty much the perfect meal yesterday.

    In other news, the trial of Dov Charney, founder, CEO, and head underwear tester of American Apparel starts next week. News of him being in trouble for sexual harassment issues has been floating around seemingly since the company’s inception. As the owner of a small handful of American Apparel shirts, I tried to explain to Gia earlier today that if I designed the softest cotton garments on planet earth and I had to work in an office full of people wearing said garments, I would probably be on trial for sexual harassment too, so let’s cut the guy a break. THEY’RE SO SOFT!! YOU JUST WANT TO PUT YOUR HANDS ALL OVER THEM!! And anyway, he should be on trial for hair and glasses harassment. Jesus: