Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Angry Contractor? What to do?


When you need some work on the house beyond the abilities of your regular handy man you start looking for a contractor. Sometimes you get a package deal that comes with unresolved anger. That was the case with one contractor we asked to bid on a job.

The guy was prompt and showed up as promised. He hopped out of a late model truck with a beautiful vinyl wrap displaying the company's name. It looked really professional.  But with his first step out of the vehicle, he launched into a non-stop sales pitch.

Right away, we knew something was up with this guy when he brought up the hail storms that had hit our area months earlier. Oh yes, the weather reports substantiated it, he could attest to this because he'd pulled some reports.

We mentioned that it had been six months since the last major storm.

"Oh, that's not a problem," he assured us. "They'll still pay for an insurance claim."

And by the way, he could probably squeeze in our other repair into a complete roofing job that the insurance company would approve.

"Un uh", my husband promptly told him. We haven't seen any damage on the roof. "All we want is the dry rot on the siding fixed. We're not worried about the roof," the hubby said. "It was replaced after the straight line winds came through here a few years back."

This was our room addition project in 2008.
"Oh, I can assure you they'll pay for the roof," the contractor continued. "I've got a team of lawyers who'll back that up," he said. He went to his truck, grabbed his ladder and propped it up against the house. "I'll just take a quick peek at the condition of the shingles."

The husband was starting to get tense. That was clear from his clenched jawline and frustrated frown.

When the contractor came back down, the report was not good. "Only about three shingles missing," he told us with a strong level of disappointment.

We tried to bring his attention back to the rotted siding, at which point, the guy started ripping at one of the damaged trim boards on the front of the home. "See that?" he questioned, holding out a large chunk of wood for us to inspect. "Damage like this usually leads to more problems once you get started." His speech was well rehearsed. Without flinching, he returned to the topic of roof repair. "The insurance company will cover most of this damage," he said, "as long as we tuck it in with the roof repair." He continued ripping off more of the trim.

Home remodeling can be difficult.
With unconcealed frustration, the husband asked, "Could you just let us know how much it would be to fix the siding?  We aren't interested in fixing the roof." He mentioned Angie's List and asked if the guy was on it.

The guy took down his ladder and slammed it into the back of the truck, then, called to my husband from the tailgate, "Why don't you come over here and ask me?"

My husband held his ground beside me near the house, at which point the angry contractor came back to where we stood. Red faced, he stepped directly into my husband's personal space less than a foot away. He began shaking a finger right into his face.

"You need to take a step back," my husband told him.

I pulled at J's arm and said something to the effect of, "Honey, don't. Let's just forget the whole thing." The guy was a head taller and in peak physical shape. My concerns were for J's immediate safety after recent back surgery and the fact that he was twenty years older than the big angry dude.

The guy walked back to his truck, backed out of the drive and yelled out, "Eff you. Don't ever call me again."

As if we ever would.

I searched online to look at the company's Better Business Bureau rating. Surprisingly, he had an A minus evaluation from the bureau. I should have reported him but I was reluctant to do so for fear of repercussion. We live quite a way out in the boondocks and depend on a volunteer fire department.

I couldn't help but think of several houses that have burned down out here as a result of arson.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Almost Famous - Movie Review

Almost Famous, from 2001


Fifteen year old high school senior, William Miller, (played by Patrick Fugit), is an aspiring rock journalist. He accompanies the Stillwater band on their music tour across the country trying to write the perfect story for Rolling Stone magazine. During the trip, he's exposed to a world of change where friendship is the drug used to draw him into their web.

"Its not too late for you to become a person of substance," Frances McDormand (William's mother) tells music performer, Russell Hammond, (Billy Crudup), incendiary lead guitarist of the Stillwater band. He's freaked out after a phone call from her when she checks up on her son. "I know all about your Valhalla decadence... He's not ready for your world of compromised values and diminished brain cells that you throw away like confetti." She warns the would be rock star that her son will be avenged if he's harmed in any way or taken off his chosen path

Kate Hudson, plays a dedicated "Bandaid", who shares a tumultuous relationship with Russell, the lead guitarist, throughout the tour.Before the band's last performance of 1973, she's ousted unceremoniously from the entourage when he's joined by his girlfriend in New York. Unaccustomed to rejection, the infamous Ms. Penny Lane (Hudson) ends up in a situation where William must rescue the eighteen year old.

The film is speckled with well known actors and actresses, among whom is the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman, whose sage advice to young William guides him through the painful process of youthful discovery. He advises, "The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you're uncool."

The soundtrack of the movie is packed with hits from the seventies - The Beach Boys, Elton John, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Cat Stevens, Nancy Wilson, David Bowie, Rod Stewart and others whose tunes will bring back those carefree, love riddled days of distinctive fashions and timeless antics. It's a movie that's fun to watch more than once.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Nice Ride - 1968 Chevelle

Helping out a neighbor is easy when they have a ride this nice.

When Jeff came over and asked for a bit of help rebuilding his big block Chevy engine, it was no trouble for Jim to take a look and give some prudent advice.

Together, they spent four days working on reassembling this 454 cubic inch Chevy, bored thirty over with flat top pistons.

With its Pro Comp aluminum heads with oval ports along with a Pro Comp intake, a nine and a half to one (9.5 to 1) compression ratio was attainable.

The engine had returned from the machine shop in pieces and needed to be completely assembled starting with painting the block. They chose Chevy orange finishing it off with a clear coat containing a heavy gold pearl. This gave the engine block a similar appearance to the car's exterior without the five hundred dollar a gallon price. The pistons were already on the rods, so they assembled the short block, added the heads and Jeff went home to install the oil pan and the intake manifold.

Jim uses a makeshift stethoscope to detect odd noises in the engine
The guys made an appointment with Randy at Wayne Calvert Precision Engines in Denton to test out the performance of the finished product. The dyno session turned into a ten hour Marathon because of small problems that would have taken months to troubleshoot had the engine been installed as is in the car. They were able to achieve horsepower at four hundred seventy (470 hp) with torque of five hundred sixty pounds (560 LB/FT).