Tag Archive for 'San Jose'

Back in Berlin – yay!

Well, made it back here last night, meaning the weekend will be a super short one, but that’s ok, I think I’ll take a Friday off next week and have a long one 🙂 Just when I was leaving San Jose a huge storm came in – essentially they have had a drought for the last 4 years and it has hardly rained at all. So everyone was very happy about the rain apart from me. I had to drive back up to San Francisco and was hoping to do it in a convertible – so much for that eh!? So I swapped the car to a hardtop and gotta say, those were some of the worst conditions I have ever, ever driven in. It was freaking dangerous! Anyways, made it in one piece to the airport and hung out there for my flight. Of course it was delayed due to the terrible weather, but that’s ok, at least it left at all. Other people were quite literally stranded there!

So, as you can tell, a bit of jet lag is kinda how I’m feeling, was up super early and was very hungry. So I triple S’d it and came downstairs to eat something. Then I thought I might log in a write a quick post.

San Fran > San Jose: Working life in the Bay

So, just a quick post to say hey! Am here in the bay attempting to get some work done with the US contingent of my company. And you know what? I went in with an open mind (as usual – pretty much with everything I do) and it’s working out really well. We are solving problems that would be impossible to do at a distance, and I think I need that separation from Berlin, as well as the need to meet with our customers such as PayPal, Apple, and Facebook to get true insight to their needs/requirements. It’s so difficult to get the full picture from a distance!

So yeah, enjoying the sun, yes, it is still winter, but let’s be honest, it’s the equivalent of a Sydney winter – which I know all you guys in Sydney bitch about – but trust me – 10 degrees c ain’t cold! Harden the fuck up!!

Went up to Mission Peak this morning with a colleague (Mohamed) this morning and checked out the wonderful view of the bay area. Was really nice. I hope Mohamed’s not feeling too exhausted, I have a bad habit of dragging people along when I’m walking anywhere. I mean, I don’t consider myself fit by any means, but I guess in I kind of am. It’s really a habit I think I picked up from Ina – trust me, she still drags me along, so imagine 🙂

Anyway, really enjoying the sun, and the blue sky. Reminds me of what I used to call home, all those years ago. Living for the better part of 6 months in darkness is a joke. But you know how it goes…..if you don’t look out and all, it might just be you next.

A couple of photos for you below, nothing major, but a sneak into the Bay for ya.

Finishing stages of kitchen???

Let me start this post by saying……this is a post that was started way back at the start of December, but I never had a chance to finish it. Life is very busy, and I just don’t have the time or energy to do everything. So this post is being back-dated. Yes, I know that’s cheating, but whatever! There is another story that goes alongside that too, as I didn’t really realise just how hard I was pushing myself. But we’ll get into that at another time. Sorry for the book-like length…..

Let me start with what I had started posting…….all that time ago……

Herr Hoffmann had left the kitchen in a bit of a mess – electricity-wise. There were a lot of cables hanging out of the walls, and neither Ina, the electrician Roman, nor myself, quite knew what he had in mind. Over a great sleep one evening I worked it out. Which was quite awesome really, because it meant we could finally finish up the kitchen – which we thought we were pretty much ready to do. Essentially we have a deadline to get the kitchen ready to cooking status. Ina’s mum is coming over to celebrate Christmas day, and is staying for a few days. In addition, Doris is so nice that she is bringing along one of Ina’s and my favourite christmas dishes – a hirsch goulash. This means the stovetop must be functional by this point in time – the 25th.

We have already had the groundwork done. As described in a previous post, Roman the electrician hooked up the stovetop to ensure enough power was available, and although still connected with a normal 25A fuse, we knew everything would be fine – as well as safe. Which formally it was anything but. The thing is, where the stovetop is meant to be connected is the island kinda part of the kitchen – not a true island, more  a peninsula. Although I now know you are not meant to refer to it like that – either way, I think that is rather an accurate way of referring to it. The point being, none of this part of the kitchen is finished. The plumbing still needs to be done, the electricity still needs to be finished off. The wall needs to be finished off so that the bench top is level and at the lowest height possible.

Not sure if I mentioned this previously, but since doing the floor on this level, it has been lowered overall by around 10cm. That is awesome, since it means one floor height overall on this level, but it caused a minor issue with the kitchen bench top. The wall supporting one side of the bench was now way too high. Luckily there was still a bunch of mortar on top of the bricks (this used to be the kitchen wall dividing the kitchen from the living room – we are now using part of it to support the kitchen bench top – and Ina and I could cut all the mortar off the bricks and go down to the top of the bricks. Removing another level of bricks would have made the wall too low, and would have caused far too much work. I mean, when I read my posts, it does’t really sound like we are doing much, but believe me, it is a stack of work. So down to the bricks is fine enough. My calculations tell me that we will have an overall bench top height of around 94cm. Sounds kinda high, but for tall people like us, that is just fine. And let’s be honest, the average height of a german is rather taller than shorter. So thinking long-term, this is not going to damage the rental potential of this place either.

Anyway, after shaving all the mortar off, we were ready to start work with getting the bench top there permanently. Sounds easy right? Wrong. A LOT of things to consider. And a lot of prep to do beforehand. For the bench top to sit nicely against the chimney wall, I realised I needed to re-plaster the wall. No biggy, since in preparation to finish the kitchen off we had the electricity cabling finished (since my wonderful dream of how it was intended to be) and the wall had huge channels cut into it right to the top. I would have to plaster up those channels anyway, so plastering the entire wall didn’t really phase me. And at this point in time, I am pretty damned confident of my plastering skills. Still not keen on doing an entire hug wall, but I know I could if I had to.

So I plastered up the wall, and then Ina and I could measure out, and cut all the wood parts we needed to in order to get the island part finished. That meant cutting the bench top with a circular saw, as well as the two wooden end pieces, which will be painted to look like a continuation of the plaster walls. We could lay everything out in the kitchen – the dishwasher, and all the cupboards that are going to live under the bench top, and get precise measurements also. And that’s what we did. And then fitted everything permanently, finally running a fat bead of mortar on top of the wall supporting the kitchen bench top to ensure it was equally supported. Of course after cutting all the mortar off the surface, it lowered the wall overall, but was not completely even. So some bits of the nechtop were unsupported. Running a big, fat bead of mortar fixed that! Ina and I then, quite literally, sat on the bench top since we knew it needed to be as low as possible for our calculations of being level to work, and our combined weight would squish it down enough into the mortar to do so.

And that’s it. Section done. After this I plumbed in the dishwasher, the sink, and the hot water unit under the sink. Why are we using an electric hot water unit directly under the sink, and not the hot water from the gas hot water unit upstairs in the bathroom? Well, for one there is no hot water connection, since that was never planned. I mean, essentially the top floor was built way after the bottom floor – I think in 2007 or something, and when they built it they never ran a hot water pipe downstairs. I find that weird, but the plumbers we’ve had here said that’s very normal. It gets really cold here, and the hot water would take too long to get to the bottom bathroom, let alone the kitchen, I call bullshit, but whatever.

So I had the pleasure of realising Herr Hoffmann had not only purchased a hot water heating unit that was ineffective (it was a low pressure vented unit), but he had also purchased not one, but two kitchen sink taps that were incompatible with that particular hot water heater. Since it was a low pressure unit, it required a special tap with three pipes, instead of the typical two. Anyway, long story short, both taps were dog ugly, and I had already decided on a different tap by Nobili, which matches the new bathroom taps very nicely, and which requires normal pressure. So I did a bunch of research, ordered a new electric hot water heater by Siemens (a 10L job instead of the tiny 5L we had), went to a few hardware stores and bought all the necessary parts required to install the unit, and set about installing.

By this time Doris was already here. The kitchen was finished enough that we could christen our stovetop and cook on it for the first time together. By the time I was installing the hot water, dishwasher, kitchen sink, and kitchen tap, it was the eve of my birthday. Oh yeah, that’s how I roll, no rest for the wicked! So I finished everything by around 12.30am, Ina, Doris and I could all crash, and I could relax on my birthday. That was the plan at least.

Well, we awoke to the bad news from Doris that something was leaking, and there was a pool of water in the kitchen which had made its way across to the living room. Bugger. Now I needed to find the slow leaks. I had done everything so well, well at least that’s what I thought. Finding the leaks was easy enough, fixing them was another story entirely. And fix them I did. Although first I turned the water supply to the kitchen off, so I could go with Doris and Ina to a beautiful cafe for a birthday brunch (paid for by Doris – too nice!) that was chosen the day before when I was working on all the piping on the 27th. And man what an awesome cafe, and an awesome brunch. I tell ya, I had not only one dish, but two! Bacon and poached eggs first, and pancakes second. What a pig 😛 When I came home after brunch I got about to fixing the leaking pipes. I had to, there was another deadline. A small group of close friends were coming over that evening for a drink to celebrate my birthday. This was the first time any group of friends had been over to see the place, since it had basically been a complete construction site up until then. So water leaking onto the floor was not an option.

Anyway, fix it I did. And since then there have been a bunch of things done. As a gift from a bunch of my friends here, they all chipped in to get new handles for the kitchen. I did not at all like the handles that Herr Hoffmann had bought for the kitchen, and my friends all knew it. Yes, I complain a lot about things sometimes. I try not to, but when something is bugging me, I tend to be quite vocal at times. Anyway, we now have new handles which improve the look of the kitchen tenfold, I have adjusted all the doors and whatnot so they are even (as well as can be in a place where essentially nothing is straight – altbau – you know the story), and that’s where we’re at.

The kitchen is so close not being finished now I can hardly believe it. And if you look at it, no one could imagine the amount of work that went into it to get it to this stage. We are now plastering and sanding the entry walls, getting them ready for paint. The entire entry and kitchen area will be grey. The grey matches the slate floor and the cream kitchen very nicely. It was a tough decision. What color. But I have this Adobe app on my phone where I just point it at something, and it works out a cool scheme. That’s what I did. Pointed it at the kitchen floor and got a color scheme. I went to the paint shop with that color scheme and chose colors accordingly. Too easy. So yeah, we’re still not finished with all the plastering and patching up of places that have been opened up. And just when you think you are done with something you realise you actually aren’t.

We thought the main wall of the kitchen was finished, but we had what we thought was a faulty oven. When we tried to install it, as I think I’ve mentioned before, the front panel was totally electric. Well, the oven wasn’t faulty. We returned the oven and received a new one only for it to have the same problem. The front was totally live. And I’m not talking about just a few volts here, we’re talking about 230V of deadly power – not cool. Logical thinking tells you that the problem mustn’t lie in the oven, but rather the electricity itself, the fact that there must be a problem with the ground. Well, I checked a few power points only to realise that the ground was completely live. There was no ground. Not good, not good at all. And that was after having plastered up the wall, painted the wall, and installing that side of the kitchen rather permanently. Roman had to come back to fix it. Having no ground is extremely dangerous. And only due to the fact that we have a stone floor with no accessible earthing were we not electrified in the first place. Touching the oven when standing on a floor that is earthed would end with the result of an extreme electric shock. Lucky.

Our electrician, Roman, came back and fixed it all up, meaning he had to remove the built-in fridge and open sections of wall that were beautifully closed up and painted, which now means we have yet again, holes in the wall that require plastering up and painting. Talk about sisyphus work!! Oh well, we haven’t done that yet, maybe in a few weeks.

Why in a few weeks you ask? Well, at the end of this week I am off to San Jose for work, where I will be for the next couple of weeks. Got a few meetings with the typical crowd, Apple, Adobe etc. So will be out of this place for a while. Maybe Ina will do it whilst I’m away, but I doubt it. Moving the fridge is at least is a two-person job. And I don’t really expect her to do such hard work by herself. Meanwhile I’m going to spend a weekend in San Francisco to chill and get over some jet lag, and then drive over to San Jose to get on with work.

But that’s it. That is the current status. A fully operational, 95% finished kitchen. The apartment overall is probably around 90% finished. It really is just polishing that is required. Well, more like sanding, plastering, sanding, plastering, sanding, painting. And that is the work that really sux. You can do so much, and at the end of the day you see so little progress. It’s not like getting a dishwasher in, I mean, that is a thing you notice. No, plastering and painting is so subtle that after days and days of work you sometimes look around and feel like you’ve done nothing. Anyways, here are some photos. I know this way of displaying photos six for you guys because making the shot bigger means clicking away from the page – sorry – I really should combine all these posts into it’s own topic – like my bass traps, and have a linked photo album. That will happen – but that’s extra work that I don’t have the time for at the moment – so apologies im voraus – as we would so over this way 😉