Some things I hope the powers that be in Houston have learned…

These are just a few of my observations from this whole hurricane “tragedy” in Houston

  • You can’t evacuate without gas and clear highways
  • Evacuations themselves can lead to loss of life

    Deaths in affected areas: 0

    Deaths due to evacuation: 25 or 26 as of 09/25/2005
  • Using a 700 mile wide “cone of probability” is probably not a great idea
  • Early evacuation notice (even a voluntary one) will quickly lead to mass panic and hoarding
  • Locating 80% of the nation’s refineries in one place is a stupid idea
  • There’s something wrong with evacuees needing to have refreshments served to them on the freeway by the people who stayed in town
  • It’s better to sit at home with A/C than spend 24 hours in a car to go to Dallas (who wants to go to Dallas anyway?)
  • It sucks when all the restaurants in town close

The Kitchen Ordeal

Brandy and I moved into the house on Foxwood in January of 2004. The house was in pretty good shape before we moved in, but it was plain and old in look; very woody. The casing on all the doors was this stained pine color that we were not big fans of and the walls throughout the house were painted the same color of off white except for the dining room walls, which were covered in stained pine paneling. By far the worst part of the house was the kitchen, which was also stained pine (it was a theme for the house I guess). The tile in the kitchen was a lovely shade of turquoise, with matching appliances!

The old kitchen

We replaced the paneling within the first few months, and then we decided to tackle the kitchen around May of 2004. We started by tearing out the tile and cabinets of the kitchen, with Paul’s help, and hauled all the debris off to the dump. An interesting side note here is that tearing out kitchen cabinets is one of the few things you can do in your house without a city permit. After the cabinets and tiles were out of the kitchen I peeled off the sheet rock that was behind the backslash, since it was torn to hell, as well as the sheet rock behind the cabinets. The reason I did this was to be able to start from scratch on the walls and not have to blend different types of textures since I had done this in the dining room with little success. With the sheet rock all down I spent a month or so putting in new wiring and plumbing (I’m slow) because there were only a few plugs in the room. The plumbing needed to be reworked because the faucets came directly out of the walls with no shut off valves and I wanted to correct that.. This period seemed to be the longest time spent on the kitchen. I was a little hesitant about working on the plumbing since it was my first time, so I enlisted Paul to do the plumbing while I watched on like a loser.

The sheet rock and electrical

At long last the plumbing and electrical were finished and I was ready to put up the drywall. I had learned a few lessons from the dining room so I managed to get it done in the space of a day or so, and it really made the room look good! I was so impressed with the bare sheet rock look that I left it alone for several weeks. Eventually I started floating and taping the walls, which took a few weeks. I had spent several months on the dining room so this was a HUGE improvement, taking into account that I was doing most of this work at night or on the weekends. The toughest part about taping and floating was these two opposite 30 degree angles on the walls. Our house is shaped like the top of a stick arrow, and the kitchen fell in the middle of that. I probably worked on floating the angles in the kitchen more than the walls themselves. After the drywall was complete we sprayed some texture on the walls and ceiling, and then Brandy painted while I was out of town.

The painted walls

We had already decided to so with Silestone for the countertops, so we just had to decide what to do for kitchen cabinets. We looked at custom cabinet makers, Home Depot and IKEA, each of which had their own special pros and cons. Using a custom cabinet maker would have probably been middle of the road cost wise and they would have taken care of the strange kitchen shape, but then we would have had to have strange third party contractors in the house that would be tough to hold responsible if they messed up the kitchen. Home depot had the benefit of allowing you to install their products yourself OR use their contractors, but we thought the cost was too high for both the product and the labor, and on top of the cost we would have to deal with non standard angles. IKEA had the benefit of being very cheap and modular while not suffering on quality too much, so we ended up going with them. The odd angles were still going to be a problem, but with Paul’s help I figured it would work out.

Brandy and I strolled into IKEA one morning and consulted with one of the employees and were well on our way to ordering three quarters of the kitchen. She was very helpful, and we got out of there we were both thinking how easy everything went. At the cashier they told us to wait over to the right to pick up our stuff, which we thought was everything we had just ordered upstairs. When our names were called we went up to the counter and they had about a tenth of what we had just purchased. Apparently when you order a kitchen set from IKEA you can pick the pieced that they have in the store, but everything else has to com from either the California warehouse or the Sweden warehouse. We went up to IKEA almost every weekend o claim the bits and pieces of cabinet furniture. Sometimes we would get all cabinets and sometimes you would only get the wheels for them, or brackets for something you don’t have yet. Once that period is over and you have all your pieces you start to work assembling everything. I spent a weekend using the IKEA tools putting the cabinet frames together; very repetitive.

Cabinets assembled, I went to work on fixing the tile holes that used to server as the footprint of the old cabinet set. The old tiles were saltio tile, but unless you get the same lot number your tiles will never look the same. Most of the fixed tile was going to under the new cabinets, so we only had to worry about matching the old tile around the old footprint, we just didn’t want to have to build the cabinets into an older/custom footprint. The whole process of getting the cabinets from IKEA, assembly and prep work took around 3-4 months. During this time Brandy and I are eating almost every meal at Jack-in-the-Box (yum!). The only real kink we threw in the process was that we wanted to take 2 wall cabinets and attach then to the back of 2 floor cabinets, making an island, of sorts. This threw the schedule back a bit, but we moved on.

The island on-end

The next job was to put all the pieces together on the wall and make everything look pretty. One of the odd angles we were able to hide behind the oven, the other we hid it behind the built in pantry. Once the cabinets were installed we were able to bring in the appliances and make the look almost complete. The countertops came in November and the fixtures came in December, allowing of a semi-perfect house!

Here’s the finished results, which took from May 2004 – January 2005:

The finished kitchen

We’re still standing!

We got through the night without a hitch, other than the fact that all the restaurants in town we closed and we had to cook our own food. Curse you Rita, my old nemesis!

I’ve noticed while watching the local news that no one will say anything close to “We might have over reacted”, but instead are saying “It could have been much worse” or “We got lucky”. Dramatic people can’t even admit when they’re wrong.


We bugged out

Brandy and I headed over to her mom’s house, which is about 2 miles away, to ride out the “hurricane”. Her husband works for the power company and we didn’t want her hanging by herself in case her was called out. Let the hurricane party begin!

A lucky break, sort of

A bus caught on fire just outside of Dallas this morning, killing 20 out 0f 45 senior citizens on the bus. The bus is suspected to have caught on fire due to an overheating brake system, which then ignited several of the passenger’s oxygen canisters. The passengers were from the Bellaire area (south west Houston) and were evacuating to Dallas to avoid danger and power loss. Senior citizens are especially susceptible to power loss due to the life preserving machines utilized by nursing homes. The scary part is that the community (not a home anymore) that the bus was coming from was the same one that my grandmother was in until the day before yesterday. She’s safe in Austin right now, but scary nonetheless. My condolences to the families of the bus passengers.

Here’s a link to the above story (via CNN).

The storm continues…

So the weather guys are saying that the hurricane will be hitting to the east of Houston instead of to the south. This is nice for us, but not so great for people around the Port of Houston and the Eastern side. I guess that’s a “Yay!” for Houston for right now, until the weather guys change their mind.

I’ve been using the Channel 2 web site’s tracker to see where the hurricane’s been, but I swear that they won’t update the direction just so they can continue to scare people about it. They are probably drooling about being able to dominate the news so they can have an outlet for their dramatic nature. I hate what’s happened to the people in this city in the past 2 days, fueled (in my opinion) by the media’s bloodlust for continuing stories.

Rita is causing lines

I was driving around this morning and saw my fair share of lines around the neighborhood.

This one is people lining up to get into the H-E-B (H. E. Butts) on T. C. Jester at Ella before opening. I took this around 7:45 and I think they opened at 8.

The HEB line

These next ones are the cars waiting in line for plywood at the Lowes on I-610 at Ella. There were around 30-40 cars in line. Lowes had blocked up all entrances except one and turned off all cashier stations except the 2 by the lumberyard wing. The first shot is of the line and the second shows some of the stacks of plywood lined up outside.

The line for plywood The line for plywood and some of the product