February, 2010

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Wires everywhere

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

I’ve been doing a lot of electrical work the last few days…so much that even I’m wondering if I’m qualified to do this! :) Seriously, electrical is serious stuff.

Pulling the Romex (the big yellow cables with electrical wires inside) through the ceiling and walls required no particular skill.

After that, I started making pigtails, wiring electrical sockets and switches. Wiring these was not too difficult and was actually fun to do once I got the hang of it.

We will have something like 60 outlets. I think it will be the first house I’ve ever lived in that has enough outlets and network ports.


Then, today, I got to start hooking the outlets into the wiring coming out of the walls. This was not only difficult, but seemed like serious stuff. You have to strip all the Romex coming out of the wall and then connect the similar colors (e.g. the black wires from all three wires) into a push-in wire connector. These are new things that you use instead of wire nuts. They are much more reliable, because once a wire goes in, it can’t come out. However, it is very difficult to get all those wires into their little tiny holes. And God help us when we have to stuff all this into the socket boxes!

After I got a half dozen or so of these wired up, Brad said he wanted to test them. Prior to this, we didn’t have any electricity “live.” I was not eager to to this. Since we haven’t pulled the cable from the battery house to the house yet, Brad had to rig up a power cable into the main power box, where he turned on the breaker for the first circuit I wired. Then we went to plug the tester in. The moment of truth… Success! Yay!



Saturday, February 13th, 2010

We spent the day today doing electrical. I mounted the electrical boxes (the blue things in the pictures below) for the lights onto 2x4s, which I then mounted between the i-joists in the ceiling.

It was fun, and even Brad remarked that my mood was much better. :)

Brad is running wire all over the house, including many network cables. As you might guess, in addition to wireless, we will have many network connections all over the house. It is a great deal of fun to put stuff wherever we want it and to think about what it will all be like when it is done.

Same old stuff and something new

Friday, February 12th, 2010

I know we haven’t written much lately, but we are still here, moving ahead.

It is the time of year when I am doing a fair amount of travel for work (CA, TX, CA again, WA, etc.), which also means I have a lot of work to be doing in the office getting ready for various conferences, meetings, and workshops. (I am duping and printing CDs as I write this.) I have not been working much on the house the last couple weeks. As a result, I am a bit sullen and cranky, but it is good at least to be bringing in some money.

Brad has been working on electrical, pulling wires and putting in outlets and switches. He is finding it to be a bit tedious and not quite as gratifying as, say, stucco’ing, but it must be done. Next will be plumbing. Then some more really fun stuff…dry wall, paint, plaster, and tongue and groove plank ceilings.

We also have one other new project in our lives (because we have so much free time on our hands :).  We are doing some work with a small local farm here.

My interest in this started when I read the book Hope’s Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappe. It is a remarkable book about the dissonance between the world most of us want to live in and the lives we actually live. The truth is that most of the decisions we make in our lives don’t support a sustainable clean planet and a just society for all of its people. The book goes way beyond sustainable food choices to deal with social issues like land reform, world hunger, economics, labor markets, and much more. Lappe’s overarching theme is that the small choices we make in our everyday lives affect all these parts of our society. The book is also part travel journal with the storyline following Lappe’s journey around the world with her daughter to look at these issues by talking with a variety of interesting people.

Anyway, some of the discussions in the book about things like organic growing, small farms, sustainable food choices, and community involvement made me think more about the small local farm here that we bought produce from last year. At the end of the last growing season, we had heard the couple from this farm say that they were having some challenges. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to get involved somehow. And while I know nothing about farming, I am a good marketer and small business person, so after much deliberation, I asked them if we might lend a hand.

Their response was amazing: YES! “We are thrilled for community involvement at any level individuals are willing to contribute.  Our hopes are that our community would consider this their own local farm and would invest in it and help it prosper.”

Since then we’ve met several times and are hard at work on moving ahead with things. It’s loads of fun and like other things here, it is making us look at the world in some new ways.