Viola Park

For the next house...

Henrybuilt is pleased to announce that Viola Park is open for business!

Thank you for your interest in Viola Park and for joining our e-mail list. Viola Park is open for business and is currently taking and producing orders.

Viola Park is an innovative new company, owned and operated by the Henrybuilt Corporation, offering well designed kitchen systems at an accessible price. Created as a collection of interchangeable components, Viola Park can be configured to meet a wide range of architectural styles.

The company will be launching a new website shortly that will offer online planning tools, including a decision matrix, to help customers create a Viola Park design uniquely suited to their home. Stay tuned!

Price lists and additional information are available upon request. We welcome your feedback and ideas.

We get letters

Dear Dr. XXX

Thank you for writing to express your support for the "Clean Water Restoration Act." I appreciate hearing your thoughts about this legislation and welcome the opportunity to respond.

As you know, Senator Russell D. Feingold (D-WI) introduced the "Clean Water Restoration Act" (S. 787), which would restore the scope of waters and activities subject to federal regulation under the Clean Water Act that existed prior to the Supreme Court's decisions Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Rapanos v. United States. On June 18, 2009, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works approved the bill after incorporating a compromise authored by Senators Max Baucus (D-MT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) to meet the goal of restoring the environmental safeguards while maintaining protections for farmers, ranchers and wastewater systems under the Clean Water Act. Please know that I will keep your support in mind should S. 787 come before the Senate for a vote.

As a supporter of the Clean Water Act and of strong protections for our nation's remaining wetlands and waterways, I am committed to working to ensure that our water resources are preserved and protected for future generations. I believe that we must carefully consider whether any legislation to address the scope of federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act will work as intended. I will keep your thoughts in mind should the amended version of S.787 as reported by the Environment and Public Works Committee comes before the full Senate for a vote.

Again, thank you for writing. If you have additional comments or questions, please contact my Washington, D.C. office at (202) 224-3841. Best regards.

Sincerely yours, Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator

Further information about my position on issues of concern to California and the Nation are available at my website http://feinstein.senate.gov/public/. You can also receive electronic e-mail updates by subscribing to my e-mail list at http://feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=ENewsletterSignup.Signup.


Electrical redo I

I've contacted Gene from 1-Stop (he did my electrical service entry and breaker box is 2006) for a bid on new circuits for the kitchen and bath. Might as well get them done when the access is good.


Bathroom redo II

See also Bathroom redo.

The Bathroom redo project wasn't just about the bathroom, since I planned to replumb the entire house in PEX and change my water heater as well. It's just that the most visible change would be in the bath.

However, I also wanted to go tankless with my water heater for two reasons: 1. My existing tank water heater was at the end of its service life and 2. I could recapture scarce interior space in my home by moving the new tankless heater up into the attic.

My new water heater is a Takagi T-K Jr tankless water heater. It was a bit more difficult to procure this heater than buying a Bosch from Lowes or a Rheem(?) from Home Depot. Nonetheless, I made the effort based on professional plumbers' inputs that extolled the virtues of Takagi over Bosch and Rheem, a refrain I heard over and over again - often enough to believe it. While the day to day benefits remain to be determined, from a do it yourself perspective it's exactly the opposite: Bosch has it over Takagi. Here's why:

1. For Bosch the required 3" double insulated stainless steel vent tubing is conveniently available at Lowes, the same place I'd purchase the heater. The 4" Cat 3 stainless vent tubing for the Takagi required a trip to a full service plumbing supply store - a marvelous place indeed, but not incredibly convenient.

2. The Bosch uses water flow to spark its ignition. Takagi requires a hard wired electrical connection (though for temporary testing purposees changed it to a plug).

3. Clearance issues. I discovered to my chagrin that the combustible materials clearance on the Takagi 4" vent pipe is and additional 4" from the pipe. It is only 1 inch for the Bosch double wall 3" vent pipe. This required that I widen and reinstall the roof vent from the old heater instead of just re-using it.

These issues combined made the Takagi more difficult to install from a do it yourself perspective than I think the Bosch would have been.


Bathroom redo

After a day of labor yesterday, my bathroom looked like this today. This week I expect to have a return to basic functionality. I don't have a plan with a schedule for finalizing the finish work.


New driveway III

See also my prior blog posts, New driveway and New driveway II.

In the AM.

By 4PM. There's small gravel in the permeable interstitial spaces between pavers. This guy is brushing it into place. A sealer goes on next. Miguel Cisneros sure did a good job.

The pathway is defined with a different paver orientation. Too subtle?

6 P.M. B.C. is taking the first stroll on the path.

Some late night visitors in the backyard. Mom and two babies. They also tried the driveway later on their way to the sewer drain.


Blurb from NWF

Recent Supreme Court decisions have gutted the Clean Water Act's ability to protect our valued wetlands and streams, leaving 50-75% of North America's duck population at risk--not to mention 1/3 of our clean drinking water supply.

I just asked my senators to pass the Clean Water Restoration Act and renew our commitment to protecting our waterways and wetlands. Please ask your senators to protect our waters too.

What will happen to the ducks if we don't act now?. Join me and @NWF to speak up for clean water: http://ow.ly/7QvT #wildlifeaction

New driveway II

See also my prior blog post, New driveway.

This AM Juli and I met Miguel and we laid out the rough contour of the garden edge and finalized details of the brick border. I have read and I believe that the most aesthetic front door pathways are made of a distinctive material from adjacent driveways. Here, I struggled with that idea because the driveway is already small and adding another material would make it look smaller and possibly chopped up. My solution is to make the driveway and path all of one material, but the pathway will have the pavers placed 90 degrees to the ones in the main driveway - a textural difference rather than a color or materials difference. A small integral planter was redefined near the house that provides physical separation of the path from the driveway.

This PM the driveway looked like this. That's roadbed material in the center, bricks (matched to the ones on the house already are the edges) . Pavers to be delivered tomorrow, I hope. The garden side border will be put in last in order to allow an integer number of pavers across the width. A planter (not raised) will go in front of the left side of the garage and proved additional separation between the front door path (at left of drive) and the garage.

I will keep the narrow Penstemon flower bed, losing only a couple inches from it.

The PVC pipe defines the curved border. There's additional PVC (3 pieces of 3/4" Schedule 40, I think) buried under the drive for water or electrical or ???.


New water service

The last week of my vacation was spent on this project. I hired a plumber (peterclarkeplumbing.com) and acted as gofer and grunt. With two actual plumbers and me, the project took 2 days of work (one was 14 hours). The City inspected about mid-day on Day 3, and I backfilled the trench after getting his OK (still not really done to perfection because apparently the soil doesn't pack back as tightly as it once was).

Trench from the street up to the side of my house. Pipe is combination 3/4" soft copper flex and hard copper. I hope the root disturbance doesn't weaken the Italian Cypress too much. Old water entry point is the near corner of the house.

New water entry point is in side yard, giving a better line of access up in the attic (house is on slab, so all services are in attic). Holes in exterior wall show where the water supply is fed up between windows.

1952 water meter has 1/2" pipe, but the rest is 3/4" . Peter thinks this is how they regulated pressure in the bad old days. There's no other adjustable pressure regulator.
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New driveway

7:30 AM today


6 PM
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Plumbing supplies







Oak attrition on the Upper 40

The first three pictures show the fate of representative oak seedlings on the Upper 40. Recall that my brother and I had "planted" somewhere in excess of a couple hundred acorns last winter. Tens of those sprouted and I was optimistic that we'd have a bumper crop of new oaks. The gophers apparently like oak seedlings as much as I do. Here's a photo of one that I pulled from the ground. The second photo, a close up of the root, shows characteristic teeth marks.

Photo 3 is one of the remaining seedlings, still apparently healthy. The loose earth nearby is tailings from a gopher hole, so that tells me that gophers can overlook nearby victims.

Photo 4 is of a plant that I suspect is a native, but I can't identify it. Can anyone out there?

Here's a photo of its leaves.

LA Weekly to Enviros: You're Wimps

That's basically the gist of the insightful article on the Los Angeles environmental movement. Not only are they wimps, but also co-opted, sold out, and decidedly behind the times what with the lack of Facebooking and Tweeting. Why else with an avowed green mayor has so little progress happened lately?

My take: If you're an environmentalist you should read the article and see if it applies to you.