Anatomy of a Track Day

Track Day, Bro!

Bro. Bro! Track Day Bro! Bro… Bro! Track Day! and then we hi-five and watch Fast and the Furious Seventeen.

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No. It’s nothing like that, at all. Despite the crazy hardware that shows up, there’s a very friendly camaraderie amongst the people that show up and actually drive. It’s a great atmosphere where you can bug the hell out of a dude that shows up with a new GT-R asking for rides (he said yes, but I had to dip out before it was my turn), show respect for a dude that shows up with a black GT-R Skyline and actually takes it out, hang out with a crazy-cool dude who instructs at the Porsche Experience Center but shows up (and runs down Miatas and 370z’s) in a stock Honda Fit with drum brakes, gawk at guy who “has the same car as I do” except he dropped in a 2003 Porsche 911 3.4L engine and devoted his entire trunk to an oil cooler, and chase down a 2015 C7 Corvette in your stock 16 year old Boxster. All smiles all the time, as long as you keep the shiny side up.

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I’ve done over 150 laps at Atlanta Motorsports Park, which is the best track ever, and I’ve seen a couple patterns emerge. If you’ve never been, here’s what you can expect on track day.

To begin at the beginning, it’s an early morning. EARLY. My alarm goes off at 5:30. And I happily jump out of bed. Seriously, it’s the easiest 5:30 you’ll ever wake up for. 5:30 for a 7:00 meeting at work? Snooze. snooze. Snooze again. Then oh crap. Oh Crap! Think of a reason to tell your boss why you missed the meeting. Son was sick. Yeah, he’s never heard that one before, bingo.

Not on track day. You’ll pop right out of bed. You’ll be happy, but not necessarily sharp. Good thing you packed your car the night before. Before you go to sleep, you’ll need the following in your car: snacks, water, a towel, tools, a spare t-shirt in case you have to get dirty, your hat, sun block, sun glasses (sun’s not up at 5:30. Don’t plan on remembering it), your tech sheet (you remembered to fill out your tech sheet, right?), your helmet, your driving gloves, and some extra fluids like brake fluid and oil. I also always bring glass cleaner and wipes. Pack your loose stuff in a bin so you can keep your stuff from tumbling all over the paddocks, and take out everything else. Taco Bell receipts, your brief case, empty food containers from lunch, empty water bottles, coffee mugs, dead bodies, and floor mats. You don’t need your floor mats. You won’t want your floor mats. You want nothing to mess with your feet. Just leave it at home.

But your car is packed, so now you go to sleep, wake up, make some coffee, put on a blipshift, manufacturer, performance-branded, or an ironic and mildly amusing T-shirt, feed the dog so he doesn’t bark and wake up the whole house waking your baby and making your wife very very mad, and point your GPS to the track. It’s 6 AM on a Sunday, there is no one else on the road except for Johnny Law, and the track opens at 7.

As you near the track, it’s not quiiiiite 7 AM, but the sun is just starting to peak out and drivers are converging. You’ll find yourself on a twisty mountain 2-lane road with plenty of elevation changes, E30’s, E36’s, caged Miatas, 350z’s, Mustangs, Camaros with track packages, and a new C7 Corvette or 3. There is no place for the fuzz to hang out on this particular stretch of Highway 53, so you might find yourself in a spirited caravan and [redacted]. You make it to the track entrance and find a surprisingly long line of cars waiting to get into the paddocks. Fall in line, sit tight, and contemplate your left foot skills while staring up at the hill up to the check-in booth. Then you finally get up to the booth, sign the waver that says that you “Fully Understand and Agree That” something, I dunno, and then you’re in. That wasn’t too bad! Next thing to do is to head to Tech Check.

What’s Tech Check? It’s sounds like an interrogation booth for your car. If you’ve never done it, you might picture a team of Track Professionals going over your car with a fine tooth comb, checking shocks, motor mounts, lug nuts, flux capacitors, horns, but really all you do is hand them your Tech Sheet checklist that you went through the day before to make sure you torqued down your lug nuts and that your brake pads aren’t going to give up the ghost this session. Tech will check your helmet and give you a Run Group sticker, then you’re ready to head to the paddocks. Time to go find a nice patch of asphalt in the paddocks and settle in.

You found your spot (pro tip: go to pit lane at AMP. Almost nobody goes there and I don’t know why. It’s always open.) First thing you want to do is say hi to your neighbors. It helps calm your track nerves and you just might find yourself next to an instructor at the Porsche Experience Center driving a bone stock Honda Fit.

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After Tech Check, and after you find a spot, the Driver’s Meeting is scheduled for 8:00, but always gets pushed out because Tech took longer than every one thought. So, about 8:15, you go to the Driver’s Meeting. They’re mandatory, and they’re all the same, and it’s all good reminders. Here’s the script:

“This is a High Performance Driving Event. This is not a race. There are no trophies, so don’t try to go be an hero. Let’s stay safe out there and have a good time. Be safe, don’t be stupid, ask around if you need help around the track. And I want good, solid, clear point-by’s. Don’t be a dick. Now Newt is going to go over the track and the flags, and then we’ll pair novices with instructors.”

Don’t be a dick. That’s the theme and most everybody takes it to heart on the track. Talk all the smack you want in the paddocks, but on-track if you try to take the inside going into the turn 1 hairpin without a point-by, you will have executed a dick move, and you will be shown a black flag, and you will have to pull in to pit lane to talk to the track marshal, and she will tell you that you have been a dick, and you get to sit and watch everybody not being a dick for the rest of the session. Then you can count on the person you cut off at the hairpin, or the event organizer, finding you in the paddocks to talk to you about not being a dick. It’s actually very rare and the track tolerance is zero. But if you do it, go out and do better next time.

So, with that important bit behind us, the next thing that happens is ducks-in-a-row. This is usually an open 10-minute period for anybody who wants to to get out on the track and drive it…. Slowly!…. to look at the track, see if anything is wet, remind yourself about the line, then get off. This is not a session, there is no passing.

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Now the fun part. You’ve got your run groups, you have your session sheet, and you’re only a couple minutes away from track time. Mount that Go-Pro, fire up your lap timer, set up the external GPS, check tire pressure one more time, put on the helmet, put on the gloves, and drive toward the track.

Line up in pit row. Heart’s thumping, lap timer is at 0:00 waiting to start, car is cold, track is cold, brakes are cold, tires are cold. You get waved on track. And now it’s go time!

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The first lap of every session is always a caution lap. Caution does not mean Sunday drive, but you don’t pass. You warm up your tires, your brakes, your mind and then you get all the way around the track to the finish line. Get the green flag flying from the starter and it’s time to GO!

Slam on the brakes at the 4 marker, heel-toe down to 3rd, then second, take the hairpin into Turn 1 and press in the throttle coming out of the turn. Track out and full throttle through Turn 2, get straight and tap on the brakes for Turn 3 and pop up to the skid pad at Turn 4. Double apex and let the track come to you to apex Turn 5 and aim straight for the spot between the 3 and 2 marker. Slam on brakes and heel-toe down to 2nd to turn in, then sharp right to head for the late apex at the Turn 6 hairpin. 7 and 8 just point you toward turn in at Turn 9, sharp left hander and take every bit of the curbing in turn 10. Turn once and let that wheel position take your car from track in to track out back to track in at Turn 11, then tap the brakes to send your weight to the front of the car to take a 90 degree right hander at better than 60 miles an hour. Drive straight up the hill staring at nothing but the sky, stay left ALL the way to Track In, Sharp right to take half the curb on Turn 12, unsettle your car in a straight line and drive off camber into 13 and aim for the meadow to pick up speed. Turn 14 is really just the longest carousel straight in the world so put your foot down, get your tires talking to you in three digits, touch the curb at Turn 15 and aim straight for the grass on the right side of the track before you can even see Turn 16. Get straight and kiss the curb on 16, because if you’re too far left you’re going into the wall. 150 laps and I still don’t have the nerve to keep my foot down until I’m through 16, so a little breathe off the throttle keeps you grounded. Scream down the front straight and cross the finish line, slam on brakes at the 4 marker, heel-tow down to 3rd, then second, then take the hairpin into Turn 1 and press in the throttle coming out of the turn. Rinse. Repeat. Time after time after time after time. Get better, go faster, brake later, accelerate harder. Spend all your money trying to take of seconds. Then tenths of seconds. Your heart is pounding, your tires are squealing, and the whole track smells like hot brake pads and a lil bit of clutch.

Go go go until you see the checkered flag. You’ll be on track for 20 minutes. Cross the finish line at full throttle and then it’s time to cool it. Take a breather, keep your line, smile at a job well done and curse yourself for your screw ups. So you missed a shift or didn’t dump your clutch smoothly. So you missed the apex at turn 14. So you didn’t get on the throttle in time coming out of 6. That’s fine. Do better next time. Go back to your spot in the paddocks and get up to the stands to watch the other run groups. Go find people that you pointed by on the track and ask them for pointers. Go find somebody replacing a wheel hub on their Miata and lend a hand. Go talk to somebody who shoehorned a LS6 into an RX8. Go find the dude that rolled up in a new GT3. You’re on the same track with all these folks so you have a lot to talk about. It is easy to make friends on track day.

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I’ve dropped more than 10 seconds since I started at AMP. I’m looking for 2 more seconds next time I go. The next track day is March 13. Sign up here http://www.jzillatrackdays.com/ and come join me!

Josh

Happy Birthday Mr. Christmas!

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Kids are adorable. Well, Charlie is adorable. I can’t vouch for your kid.

We promised Charlie a Christmas Tree. I love a real tree. Sure, you can buy the ones that are already lit, perfectly proportioned, and ready to hold a Target’s worth of ornaments. But you’re missing out on the trail of needles, the need to water your soon-to-be-dead-tree, and the aroma of Christmas. To me, Christmastime is the smell of Douglas Fir. I hope to make it Charlie’s lasting hallmark of Christmas.

But he is far too young for me to be wishing him nostalgia. He barely knows what an Advent Calendar is. Well, that’s not entirely true. He knows they’re a box with a lot of doors full of chocolate.

Sarah bought him one to teach him about Christmas, Jesus, Advent, Patience, and Chocolate. We quickly discovered its utility in bribery. If you eat a good dinner, and eat your asparagus and chicken and rice “all gone”, we can open an Advent door and read the verse and eat the delicious chocolate. It worked for the first day. And the second. Charlie caught on. There’s chocolate behind every door.

On December 3, Sarah gave him his chocolate and Charlie wanted another. Sarah took the Advent calendar and propped it on the table so he could look at the Christmas Train scene. Charlie told mommy that he wanted to look at it up close, so mommy let him hold it. He immediately ripped open a door (14th of December), caught the tumbling premature chocolate, and popped it into his mouth. Quick as a flash. I was on the other side of the kitchen and looked over at the commotion and saw Charlie staring defiantly at Mommy, Mommy agape processing the mischievousness of her sweet angel, and then I stared at the coffee maker for fear that Charlie could see me crying my eyes out in laughter at the scene. This was one of those hilarious parenting moments that you certainly did NOT want to let your little one know was funny. I felt sorry that Sarah had to keep it together, then I looked at her and saw that she wasn’t having any problem at all. Her look was genuine, and I pretty much had to leave the room. Mommy was stern that Charlie was NOT getting December 4th’s chocolate.  It was my favorite memory of this Christmas, and all for naught, because…

December 4 was the Boar’s Head Ceremony. The Boar’s Head (as I understand, is the rarest dish in all the land) is a ceremony celebrating Oglethorpe’s best and brightest. It rings in the Christmas celebration at Oglethorpe and recognizes all past and newly minted Omicron Delta Kappa’s (Oglethorpe’s campus leaders. Sarah’s one). It starts with a banquet, crescendos with a concert, and finishes with a feast. Chocolate abounds. The concert this year was a test. We brought Charlie and tried to get him to sit through the whole thing. We pulled out every trick that we had. I bounced him on my leg, Sarah fed him Peanut Butter crackers. We got through. We told Charlie about the singers, made him watch the tuba, told him what the conductor Dr. Ray was doing. He was the maestro, leading the pack. Between two incredibly soft and somber Christmas songs, Charlie figured out Dr. Ray, and wanted to be the conductor. Dr. Ray lifted his baton, tapped his music stand, and Charlie belted out “Ready, Set, Go!” Luckily our section was small, otherwise the laughter from Stage Right might have overshadowed the maestro.

Aaand that was my favorite part about this Christmas. Until we got our Christmas tree.

We went to the Brookhaven Christian Church, where we get all of our pumpkins in the fall and our Christmas trees in the Christmas, and picked out a tree. They had a good run this year, but wanted to be done with trees. How much is this tree? $65. What’s this brown here? Uh… $45. Deal. So we brought the tree home, made dinner (Sarah was Hangry. Urban Dictionary it. I learned a new term too.) and then I mounted it in the stand. I had the great idea to put the lights on the tree in the garage, since I was mounting the tree in the stand in the garage anyway, and I could easily walk all around it. Lit it up. Wrapped it, re-wrapped it, took some slack out and re-wrapped it, then I re-wrapped it. After I re-wrapped it, I got Charlie to come back out and countdown to lighting, which when you’re two years old, is exactly like counting up. One. Two. Three! I plugged in the tree, and Charlie was amazed. “Wow!” he said. “Happy Birthday, Mr. Christmas!”

Best Christmas yet. And we’re still 3 weeks away.

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Josh

Charlie and the Technicolor Dream House

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We have decided on white.

Nah, we have picked all the colors!* The painters are a paintin’. You might not be interested in any of my tips and tricks, but I’ve already roped you in. Ha!

Pro tip 1: For painting a house, car, boat, shed, lean-to, space station, or tee-pee, the little teeny tiny postage stamps of color that you pick up at Sherwin-Williams or the paint isle at Lowe’s is only going to help you narrow down the colors that you want to try out. So unless you are building a school for ants, you have to buy samples. And paint boards. Drywall is the best item to paint because it is cheap, doesn’t warp, and it’s the exact same material you are painting in your house, but it’s heavy. So, we bought foam core boards at Wal-Mart. and painted. and painted. and shopped. and looked through the little color book. and painted some more.

Pro tip 2: You have to paint two coats. Because when you triumphantly emerge from your garage with your 9 single coat sample boards, you will look at them and think “Is the paint really that light or is that the board showing through?” “Is that streaky part the light or will the color look like that?” “Did I do two coats of Tupelo Tree over that Southern Colonial Vintage Blush because it looks more like Mélange Green to me.” Avoid these questions. You’re painting them twice anyway. Might as well do it right the first time.

Pro tip 3: If you are using foam core boards, you need to paint both sides, or the board will cup. Not just a little bit of warp, but your toddler will think it’s a sled. It warps so much that you can’t actually see the color right because any way you hold it, you are catching the light wrong. Painting both sides flattens your board automagically. And you can get 18 colors on 9 project boards. Just make sure you can see all of your color choices for a specific room at the same time, so don’t economize by painting the front and back of a board with 2 different colors you want for the living room. Or you’ll be repainting a board. Trust me.

So here’s the run down, and I promise you all these names are real. Our main neutral will be Latte (so far, so good). This color will be in our foyer, hallways, living room, and kitchen. The guest room is Comfort Grey, because we want our guests to be comfortable. Our dining room is Colonial Revival Green Stone (there we go) and our music room across from the dining room will be Hopsack with Rockwood Terra Cotta. Going upstairs, Charlie’s room will Take Five, as will his bathroom. The Bonus Room is Worn Turquoise, and Sarah’s sewing room and laundry room are Mint Condition. The nursery and Jack & Jill bath will be By the Sea, and coming off the silliness the Master Bed will be the same Hopsack from the music room, and we finish in the Master Bath with Sage. All closets are Killim Beige, which is probably the most ridiculous color name because killim rugs are anything but beige. I might rename it Pacific Ocean Tangerine. Maybe it was somebody’s first day. Our trim and ceilings are Marshmallow, which is true to its namesake and looks exactly like white unless you hold it up to something white.

first floor plan

second floor plan

*we may change the bathrooms based on the tile we pick. Which is this weekend. Which is now.

Josh

Trying To Stay Neutral

We have a basic idea of how we want the house to look. We want a neutral color to go in the foyer, living room, kitchen, and up the stairs to the hallway. We want the dining room to be trim colored wainscoting with some sort of green on the walls, the music room to be some sort of green with guitars on the walls, the guest room to be a cream, the nursery to be Charlie’s current bedroom color blue, the project room to be some compromise of Sarah-wants-it-purple and Josh-wants-the-color-decided-whatever, Charlie’s room a more grown up (3 year-old) blue, the bonus room to be a color, and the master bedroom and bathroom to definitely be a good ______________. We’re close.

So, colors have names. The colors we like have names like Latte, Macadamia, Hopsack, Camelback, Idunnoiguessits Brown, etc. The color names are ridiculous and that has to be the best job at Sherwin Williams. You probably get to show up to work stoned. That’s probably how our neutral yellow color got named Bagel–dude was hungry. It’s certainly not because the color looks like a bagel. Which leads me to:

We painted 5 boards this weekend to see what colors we liked (Camelback, Macadamia, Mocha, Blonde, Bagel). We held them up in my bedroom (which if it was a Sherwin Williams color, would probably be Muted Cardboard With Whole Milk Spilled On It) and none of the colors looked like they had a color. Then we thought it would be helpful to move the same color panels to our (Now That’s What I Call Yellow) buttery yellow walls in the kitchen, and we thought every one of them looked (I’m Falling Asleep) beige. A minor freak-out ensued and we called in 4 more colors (Cardboard, Toasty, Hopsack, Vintage Gold) and they would be ready to pick up as soon as Charlie went to sleep.

Ha! That didn’t happen. Pro Tip: 2 year olds never sleep when you need them to. Never plan on it.

But I invited Kojo and Jennae to our old house to walk to our new house, but I commandeered their car to take me to Sherwin Williams to get the samples. While Sarah caught up with Kojo and Jennae, I painted our samples, and we chased the sun to go to the house and check out what we liked. Near sundown (4:50 PM….. Have I mentioned how much I hate Daylight Wasting Time?) we walked to the house with the wet samples in hand and looked at them. Holy crap Toasty was dark. Cardboard? Looked like cardboard. We liked Hopsack and Vintage Gold. We fell back in love with Latte. Macadamia fell out of favor, but it had a good run. Blonde was never in, but we brought it anyway, and confirmed it’s status as color we’ll sell to some neighbor looking for samples or we’ll drop it off behind Oglethorpe’s drama department.

So now we’re down to 3 colors, and we have a lot of colors we might like for the rest of the house.

I promised resolution by Wednesday.

Tick.

Tock.

Josh

Sanderlings That Stay South

A sanderling is a small wading bird. Not entirely unlike a sandpiper, it’s small, light colored with a bit of brown, it stands on the shore and eats crab. Not too shabby. Basically, if you start in the middle of the arctic ocean, then wade south toward Alaska until you’re about equally stranded away from land in all directions, you’re in the center of the sanderling breeding habitat in the spring. Then they fly all the way to South America in the winter because after thousands of years of evolutionary pressure, these birds have figured out that Rio is better than Nunavut in January.

Sanderling is also the color that we choose for our house. It’s in Georgia, year round. Like it? We do.

House Exterior Painted

There has been a lot of activity at our house in the past couple weeks. The drywall is still up and the walls are sanded and all the dust is in the air and on the ground and I didn’t have to do any of it! The crown is up and the wainscoting is installed in the dining room. When I took these pictures (on Thanksgiving! These guys assured me that dinner was awaiting them when they got home) they were putting up the coffer surround (obvi…) and finishing up the crown.

Coffer In Work

And the Dining Room

Wanescoting

We went for recessed wainscoting look because I think it’s pretty sweet. I’ll take a close-up when they prime it this weekend.

My mom and dad came with Sarah, Charlie, and me to check it out and they seemed to like it, despite the dust. I walked around the back woods with dad and he named off all the species of trees that we will likely keep, and all the pines and sweetgums that we won’t. We have some interesting stuff back there, and I’ll probably have to re-up with dad to get the names of the trees back there.

Next up: Paint colors. We’ve picked the gutter colors, window sash colors, exterior color and trim, and appliance colors (GE, like I promised). We are pretty close on the colors for Charlie’s bedroom, the laundry room, the common areas including the kitchen, the master bathroom, and the future nursery. Basically, the color scheme is Blue, Green, and Jazzy (pictured, the one wearing the blue bandanna, is a dog). We’ll figure it all out by Monday.

Charlie and Jazzy

Wish us luck!

Josh

17 Shades of Brown

We have decided on the cabinets!

We picked Kinda Dark And Not Too Red But Totally Still Brown brown, which we think will look good. The island will be Wasabi green, as in the color of Wasabi. The plan is to put a lighter granite on the top of the wood, darker granite on top of the island. Maybe.

Here’s a rendering:

Kitchen Rendering

Sarah did the heavy lifting here, and we’ve added and removed a lot of expensive things. Starting at the left and going around the room, we’ll have our in-wall oven and microwave, below we’ll have a drawer for casserole dishes and up top we’ll have a cabinet for something. Going toward the back of the room I’ve got my coffee bar, then the fridge which won’t actually be a counter depth fridge because they have less space and cost $1000 more than a regular fridge, then my pantry (!). Turning the corner, we’ll have a pull out spice rack, then some aesthetically pleasing symmetrically placed combination cabinets with pullouts in the cabinet area. The little drawers under our cooktop are fake (because there’s a cooktop there), but there are real drawers under that for something. The corner will have a lazy-susan and over the countertop we’ll have a glass door’d cabinet to show off some kitchen stuff, like bowls and teapots. Turn the corner and you’ve got our trash, sink, and dishwasher, then a bunch of drawers for things we will use whilst dining–table linens, napkins, bibs, things that stab, things that cut, things that scoop. The valance over the window is something Sarah fought our designer to do, but it will totally round out and tie together the room. The dentil molding was a will be our throwback to this old house that will be on the market next quarter. (Call me if you’re interested. Best public schools ITP.)

We went over budget.

– Josh

All Done! (ish)

Woot!

Finished(ish)! Well it’s been a long time since I’ve updated the blog. Coincidentally, the project itself has been a long time coming.

We just got our cabinets in a little over a week ago. I left, went to Africa, came back, ordered the countertop, and waited. For days. Then weeks. Then a month. It took about 45 days for our countertop to come in. We were told it was backordered from Italy.

But I got the appliances in. The last thing that I put in was the oven, which just went in a couple hours ago. That job took forever. More about that later.

I’m going to open some wine and make some dinner. The whole point of this post is to show off the (almost) completed kitchen! I have baseboards to paint and install, but they’re not going in tonight.

Enjoy.

Josh

12 Hours, 5 Planks, and 3 Fingers of Tequila

I finished the foyer! Well, I finished the hardwood in the foyer. There’s still trim to do, but what’s important is that I finished the foyer! There was a really intricate piece that had to be cut next to the stairs. Because of the shape of the doorway, I had to butt two boards in the middle of the doorway. It doesn’t look bad, but I just didn’t want it. Anyway, the first board I cut I took about an hour and a half measuring and shaping. When I put it in, it was absolutely perfect, and it took up most of the doorway and looked the best with the joint pattern, at 31 inches. I was so proud of myself.

So of course, the second nail I shot through the board ricochets off the head of a subfloor screw and up through the top of the board. Slightly irritated, I ripped up the board and cut it into a 13 inch piece. At least I didn’t have to re-work the detailed corner. The other two boards didn’t take that much time to put in. It was a 48″ long board and a shorter filler piece, and boom! Foyer’s done. Yay! I took a break, walked the dog, and headed off to a much anticipated trip to Lowe’s. I got a plug for the new gas line, and a vent cover for the new vent so I know how big to cut the hole.

Oh yeah, a moment on the gas line. I paid a plumber to come install a new gas line. We have always loved a gas range but hated a gas oven, so we are buying separates. We will have a gas range and an electric oven, we just don’t know which ones yet. Anyway, I have a new rule: If botching a job leads to my house exploding, I’ll pay a more experienced hand to do it. I was expecting the job to be a couple hundred bucks, but it was $450. I gawked at the plumber, but he said that a lot of that expense is in the stainless steel gas line, which runs about $7 a foot. I said OK, and when he left to go get some fittings, I ran upstairs and checked Grainger. Yep, $7 a foot, sold in $500 rolls. Turns out that I would have probably run a smaller line than I needed, so it was money well spent. 

After I got back from Lowe’s, I knew that the next board I had to work on was the footer for the stairs going down to the den, so I got home and started working on that stair.

I pulled down the carpet because I noticed a lot of junk behind it. Most of the junk was old staples and chunks of old carpet, which is why it’s always looked bumpy. I pulled out all the staples and vacuumed up all the crap, then I realized that I didn’t have any staples to nail the carpet back in place. So I went to Lowe’s (We’re at 2 trips now) and picked up some of those nails and fixed the carpet. Also, the carpet was just rough cut and stapled to the top tread during the previous installation and crammed under the stair, which explains why the tread always rocked. So I cut that carpet and went to install the top tread.

I cut the tread to size and put it in place and tried forever to get it fastened down to the floor without rocking, since there’s no tongue to shoot the floor nails into. I decided the best way to do it was to get finishing nails and nail it down through the groove, so I went again to Lowe’s (third time’s a charm) and got some finishing nails and a drill bit that I thought was big enough for a pilot hole (it wasn’t). I lined up the board, which was another monster itself, and tried to nail the finishing nails in. It took some acrobatics to brace the tread and nail the nail, but I did it and noticed that the bottom of the groove was cracking. So I went under the house and experimented for about 30 minutes on the possibility of screwing it in from the basement. There’s 2 2 x 8’s directly under that tread and there’s another set so close that you can’t put a screw in at a good enough angle, so it’s not possible. So I resorted to nailing it with the floor nailer and smashing down the nail since it didn’t go all the way down. I hope that installing the other floorboards will stiffen the tread, but if it doesn’t, I will have to screw through the top of it to secure it. I could countersink the screw and put an ebony plug over it. That might look pretty good, actually.

So now we’re at 4 boards, and I promised you a story of 5, so here we go.

The doorway into the kitchen is narrower than a board, so I either have to make a narrower filler piece to start anew in the kitchen, or continue the constant width and cut more intricate pieces to fill the first row in the kitchen. I figured that the narrow filler board would look best, but I wasn’t sold, so I machined a small tester piece from scrap and tested it. It looked really good, so I went on machining the full piece. The challenge with that filler piece is that I can’t hog out the new groove in the back with the bandsaw. I had to find out a way to do it by hand. I tried a bunch of different ways, and found that I either need to buy a new Saw Stop Tablesaw to groove the board in 3 seconds (plus delivery time, plus trying to find another couple grand to buy a saw), or hog the thing out now with a small chisel by hand. So I sat on the floor in the kitchen for three hours whittling this groove down the entire 32 inch board, just so there are no gaps. I’m pretty sure most everyone else would have cut that corner.

I also learned that I had dulled my really good Japanese saw blade sawing through the doorway trim to fit the new floor under, since there were a couple staples I had to saw through. I flush cut all the trim so there won’t be any gaps at the doorway. Replacing the blade isn’t that big of a deal; the blades are cheap ($10) and made to wear out and replace, but they’re all the way in Midtown, and probably special order. But I don’t think I’ll have that many more flooring boards to saw by hand. But maybe it’s just fine and doesn’t work well when you’re trying to lay the whole blade across a thin board to cut a continuous groove. I’m rambling. Tequila does that.

Anyway, I didn’t put the new board in because I wouldn’t be able to stand it if a nail shoots back through the top. The doorways have the most screws, since there is a thin piece of subflooring filling the gap, and it needs two rows of screws to secure it. I have learned to map out the screws before I put the board down, but I can’t line up the nailer exactly where the nailer fires the nail. And I knew I was getting frustrated, which is no mindset to do something important, like pop nails through a piece you whittled for 3 damn hours.

 Also, sometime in the middle of the day I installed some pieces of 2×4 to solidify the new refrigerator water tap (which was loose earlier) and give some place to register the drywall patches I’m going to have to put in. It was very important to make sure that the water tap register is perfectly square and doesn’t wobble in its spot, since there’s no more scrutinized wall than behind the refrigerator…