Monday, December 28, 2009

Lunchtime Wiring Project

It looks so obvious now

When we bought out paradise dream home, we knew that it wasn't perfect. Opulence aside, there were a few issues we would need to work on in the coming years. One of those is the wiring, which wasn't quite finished up before we moved in.

The previous owners were kind enough to leave me a number of electrical puzzles. The most interesting so far has been the three way switch, which they attempted to wire with two-wire rather than three-wire on one leg. That took about six hours to sort out; we still haven't gotten around to doing the actual work.

But they threw a curve ball today. Or maybe it was a sinker. We have three outlets in the dining nook that were unpowered. I checked the nearest three outlets for a loose connection, but none of them looked to be powering these three outlets (one was a dead end, the other two were connected to each other). Of course, in checking those outlets, I discovered that they didn't leave me enough wire to pull the outlet out. What should have taken a few minutes total took twenty minutes just to reassemble.

Just a dead end?

Anyway, I gave up (for the second time) and returned to work. When I was sufficiently distracted by SQL my subconcious reminded me how a previous puzzle turned out to be a wire run from one outlet to the other, but it was not connected at all. I decided to have a second look at the nearest outlet (that appeared to be a dead-end).

I took out the outlet and stared for a second. No loose wires. Then, I got on my belly.

Coiled on roof, the missing wires

Coiled on the roof of the box was the wire I was missing. Connecting that up took less than two minutes, followed by flicking the power back on and -- success!

Some day, I want to build a house and put all these kinds of puzzles in it for the next owners. My dad and I spent a lot of time in the walls of his old house. I think it's our turn to start playing tricks.

I've got to wonder what then next little surprise will be!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Cooks' Dinner, 2009

A few weeks ago I introduced Tom to Simon. Tom, as you might remember, was the last person I reported to at Insightful before the layoffs, merger, and my new overloads took over supplying me a paycheck. Tom, however, is much more than a boss -- more like a life-long friend that happened to show up at work one day.

Simon is the husband of Vena, my first friend in Seattle (I met Rishi shortly after, both at the Pearl cafe). He trimmed our trees recently, and has impressed me with his culinary skills at Vena's parents' house years ago.

We invited these to boys over for dinner, and they ate politely, and we had a very good time. They made it clear they would be back, and not to eat. To cook.

Tom and Simon convinced Quincy and I to host a dinner where they would do most of the cooking. They like our stove. So, we did. First, we invited Megan and Scott, friends of Quincy who I just can't get enough of. Scott is a talented musician and Megan is a brilliant blogger and crafter (check her stuff out at Not Martha). They had gotten along swell with Vena and Simon at our house warming. I like inviting Jake to any gathering, because he is the consummate mingler; one of the best party attenders and hosts I have ever met.

Of course, we invited Maggi and Jeff & Rishi and Jamie, but their schedules were booked. Vena and Simon invited Vince, a talented musician and soft soul.

As a surprise, Megan and Talina were in town for the weekend, so they joined us. At this point, the quiet panic was in our bellies, and Quincy and I have never put on a dinner for so many people. So, we stopped inviting!

Simon prepared an exquisite trout main course. I can't possibly describe it, you'll have to see it for yourself. There was bacon and cherry tomatoes and lettuce frizzle involved. Simon also baked more than enough polenta cakes with roasted veggies as a side dish, which are so good I've been trying to limit myself to only two slices leftover per day.

Tom has the most intense side dish I have see in the making: a chestnut, celery root side that had subtlety and depth. He also fried us up some green beans and sliced almonds for color. There was not a single bit of either of those sides at the end of the night.

Quincy and I threw together a salad and a dressing from a Jamie Oliver cookbook. Quincy baked rolls, which also were consumed at a frantic pace.

For dessert Tom make a walnut cake swimming in some sort of sauce that I wish I could describe! I must get the spelling of the French words that mean "melted ice cream from heaven." There was one slice left over, but only because I hid it behind the microwave.

As if the food, conversation and company weren't enough, Vince and Simon set up with guitar and drum box and blessed us with mellow, soulful, relaxing ambient music at the end of dinner.

Overall, this first Cooks' Dinner was a huge success. We missed a couple things, and the "front of the house" fell over; but we'll get it right next time. Simon is lobbying for dinner for 30 -- I guess it's time to buy some comfortable kitchen chairs!

Check out all the photos on Flickr .