Bill's Thoughts
Random Thoughts and Ideas that come to my mind about things that interest me

August 2006
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Farewell to an old friend
Filed under: General
Posted by: Bill @ 8:29 pm

We have some sad news to share.  Bear, our pet hamster, has left us.  He died peacefully, and as far as we can tell, without any pain.  We certainly hope he had no pain.  He had a long life:  almost twice as long as a normal hamster.  We hope that, wherever he is now, he has a big wheel in which to run and lots of cheerios and peanuts to eat.  Good bye, old friend.

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The long hot soak
Filed under: General
Posted by: Bill @ 8:17 pm

The job is done

Well, things finally came together this evening.  By late afternoon the steps were done, the border of the patio was relaid, and the water in the spa was up to temperature.  We spent some time fiddling with the water chemistry, getting the Ph correct and then getting the initial shock of chlorine in the water.  Soon everything was ready for the first soak.  Of course, we will still be fiddling around for a while, putting in some more landscaping, lighting, etc, but what remains is finishing touches.

After dusk we all sat down in the hot water, turned on the jets, and spent the next 20 minutes figuring out which control adjusted which jet.  We got them adjusted correctly and I looked at my wife and said “Why did we wait so long to do this?”
Jenn, Heather and Matt:  your spot is waiting for you!

The tub is here, but still not ready
Filed under: General
Posted by: Bill @ 8:25 pm

Almost there

Today we made some real progress.  The stairs are almost done (we widened the stairs from 3 feet to 5 and a half feet), the screening shrubs are it, and the hot tub was delivered.  The tub came on a large straight truck with a lift gate.  It took three men to move it using a dolly.  It had about half a mile of cardboard and shrink wrap around it.  According to the literature that came with the tub it weighs about a thousand lbs.  Yet in big letters on the side it screams “Portable Spa”.  I don’t know about anyone else, but I think that something that weighs half a ton (without water) and requires three men and a dolly to move is “portable” only in the broadest sense of the word. 

Now, all that is left is to finish up the connections to the spa, the stairs, and the some trim work around the patio.  With any luck it will take us only a day to heat the water and balance the chemistry.  We might be soaking in the hot tub by Friday.

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Almost There
Filed under: General
Posted by: Bill @ 9:29 pm

The patio is almost </p>

Looking out from the deck

Now we are really moving along.  The patio is almost done:  most of the center pavers are installed.  The electrical feed for the tub is installed, and we are just about ready.  Now just a few things remain to be done:  the border needs to be installed, the stairs from the deck need to be widened, and, of course, the hot tub needs to be installed.  We also need to plant the shrubs that will be screening the side of the tub from the neighbors. 

Of course things still have not gone smoothly.  Our orignal thought was to have the cover fold back to the back of the hot tub when it was in use.  But of course it didn’t work out that way: the cover fold from side to side. So we could have it fold up near the house or toward the rest of the garden. We decided to have it fold toward the house. A suggestion to anyone who is buying a tub and planning the installation: be sure to check out which way the top folds! At this point I am beginning to think that maybe we will see an end to the construction soon. With any luck we should be able to enjoy the tub within a few days now. Just waiting for a few more details, like the actual delivery of the hot tub. More to follow….

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The Little Dig, or what do you put under a hot tub?
Filed under: General
Posted by: Bill @ 8:50 pm

The little dig </p>

Now came what we thought was the easy part:  you can’t put the hot tub down on the grass, so you need some hard surface to be under the tub.  We thought it would be a snap.  Well, it isn’t.  Our first thought was to have a simple concrete pad poured under the tub.  But then, we thought it would be better to build a small patio, so that we could walk from the deck to the patio and then into the tub.  In the summer, it would help keep grass and dirt out of the hot tub.  In the winter, it would be easier to clean off a patio than try to walk through the snow to get to the tub. 

So now we went from a concrete pad to a concrete patio.  But plain concrete is so, well, plain.  How can we make it a little more interesting?  Our next thought was that we could do “stamped concrete”:  where a pattern is stamped into a concrete pad and it looks like flagstone, or something else.  So we got some estimates for stamped concrete. 

But then, the more we thought about it, the more we decided that we wanted something else.  We were worried about keeping the area under the tub dead level, yet having the proper drainaige away from the house and the to ensure that the patio drained properly.  The best way to do that was to make the patio out of concrete pavers.  We took a lot of bids, talked to a lot of contractors, and finally picked one out. 

The first step in making anything, of course, is to build a foundation.  This picture shows the “foundation” after the work crew dug up the area for the patio, and then put down the crushed stone, power tamped it, and then put this stone down.  At this point the dog was very unhappy, since he needs to traverse this field of stone in order to move from the deck to the lawn.

As I wrote this post, I came to realize that the phrase “requirements creep” can be applied to more than just government contracts…

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Home Improvement: the beginning
Filed under: General
Posted by: Bill @ 7:08 pm

In the beginning

It all started off simply enough:  after years of talking about it, we decided that our sore joints, stiff knees, and sore backs were telling us that it was time to buy a hot tub.  We picked out a location in the back yard that was acceptable to our long range landscaping plans and to our homeowner’s association. 

The first problem, of course, was deciding which hot tub to buy.  We quickly realized that even though there seemed to be several thousand different combinations of manufacturers and designs, it was very important to have a dependable local dealer.  So we started looking at local dealers and then began researching their tubs online.  Several of the stores quickly were crossed off the list because the employees gave us the distinct impression that they were doing us a favor by selling us a hot tub.  Finally it came down to two different hot tubs.  Ed, a good friend of mine, suggested that we be sure to wet test the tub before buying.  It made sense:  you wouldn’t buy a car without giving it a test drive, why buy a hot tub without giving it a test soak?

So after comparing tubs and looking at a lot of options, we decided on our tub.  Now we had a tub and a location. The rest should be easy, right?……..

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