Friday, August 28, 2015

Must see video. What insight by Atul Gawande, MD on being mortal



Tuesday, August 25, 2015

New Yo La Tango

I've been a fan for some time and am really enjoying the new music from Stuff Like That There. Here is a link to their First Listen session on NPR First Listen: Yo La Tengo

Yo La Tengo.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Trying To Find My Om Place

The pace of work on our basement has increased daily for the past two weeks. Our construction crew is doing everything they can to try and get us back into the basement before the 25th of August, which marks the 8th month "anniversary" of our troubles.  They are hard-working young men who all seemingly pity us and all we've been through. Yesterday there were painters and electricians, carpenters, and excavators (did I mention we have another problem?) all scurrying about and the basement is really coming into shape.

This insurance claim stuff is a funny business. It seems such a long time ago now that the insurance adjuster came to our house with his tape measure, utility knife, and laser pointer to measure and take samples as to put a value on our damaged property. Later, when the work began, it became clear the claim was going to be much bigger than originally anticipated, which made the insurance adjuster quite uneasy. Asbestos and mold were discovered and shortly thereafter it was determined we were going to have to dig up much more of the basement slab than planned. As time has gone on I've kept a binder of correspondence, estimates, reports, affidavits, and other documents in an attempt to keep on top of this thing and better understand what we will ultimately be responsible to pay vs. the insurance company.

During the past 8 months we've now had two of what I will call payment points from the insurance company (Travelers). The first payment point came when the insurance company determined the value of emergency services necessary in our home.  An amount was determined and then a portion of that amount was sent to us in a check with the explanation that once we proved we had spent that whole amount or more, the insurance company would send us a check for the difference. Now here is where it gets interesting...because we have a mortgage on the home, the check had to be made out to us AND the mortgage company. We had to then endorse the check and send it to the mortgage company (RoundPoint), along with complete documentation proving those services had been provided and were completed.  After several weeks the mortgage company sent the check back to us, endorsed, and we were then able to pay the folks who provided the emergency services.  The amount withheld by Travelers is still due and we haven't yet quite figured out how to get that money.  The second payment point came three weeks ago when Travelers sent a check for a portion of the repair work.  Again, they've withheld a portion of the claim until we prove we've spent the money.  Once again we had to send the check to RoundPoint. Curiously, this time RoundPoint did not endorse the check and send it back...instead they cashed the $36K check and wrote a new one for $24K made out to us and our main contractor. They say it is their right to withhold the money until we can prove the work is complete.  There seems to be an awful lot of proving we have to do, first to get the $12K the mortgage company is holing onto and then to get the $7K the insurance company is holding onto!  And it seems we have no recourse and the mortgage company has every right to cash the check, hold on to the money (hmmm...I wonder what they do with all the money they hold on to from claims????) and disburse it to us at a schedule they see fit.  I am a little frustrated.

We have great folks helping us and I just hope we can pay them in a timely manner for their work. Oh, did I mention we also got a letter from Travelers stating they will not renew our homeowners policy?  Too many claims in a 5 year period is their justification. I need to go find my Om place now...oh there is one of them, waiting for me down in the Bitterroot.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Lake Street Dive in the Studio: Rachael Price Sings "What I'm Doing Here...



Wow, they are playing tonight at the Top Hat here in Missoula...while Wilco is playing at Big Sky Brewery. And we are supposed to be camping. Oh what to do, what to do.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Twerps - Full Performance (Live on KEXP)



A shout out to this morning to all my Aussie friends, especially Mark & Heidi Sowerby. This is a great Australian band, The Twerps. First song of the day on random play was "Peculiar" There is something about how the vocals are just a bit off of the music and how they dance together that strike me and sort of put me in a trance. Combine it with the lyrics and you have a really good song...albeit not for everybody.  Oh, Go, Mark GO!!!!  As you swim the English Channel this weekend. Cheers!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Tale of the Leak, The Lake, The Crack, and the Family Who Had Enough

Those who've been following the travails of our house woes know that our journey has lasted 7 months as of the 25th of July. Water first appeared in our basement on Christmas day and has been the gift that keeps giving. At first we thought it was a small leak of some kind, but it turned into a problem big enough that we ended up having to reconstruct our entire basement, including removing a large portion of the slab. We discovered a lake of grossness under our house, fed for some years by a burst pipe. We also discovered an underground spring manifested under the slab as well, a spring that has probably flowed through our property off and on since the home was built...at least that is one theory. Like an onion, each time we thought we'd solved the problem we were simply peeling off a layer to another problem. Over the past 7 months we've discovered hidden floor drains, asbestos, mold (the really nasty black kind) and improperly installed electrical work, much of this in areas of the basement undamaged by the water problems. We also made the mistake of moving our washer & dryer into the basement, inadvertently changing our restoration job into a renovation job, thus opening our basement to the need to upgrade everything to code in order to pass inspection. It's been a bit of a mess to say the least. 
We've had a storage pod in our driveway since three days after Christmas and between that and the garage, our belongings have been in various stages of packed and unpacked since that time. An unknowing passer-by might easily mistake us for hoarders gone wild.
It has been both an interesting and frustrating experience, as our problem was multi-headed and the solution involved both insured and non-insured work. We've gained knowledge about water, the mountain we live on and the underground springs that exist all over, city code, plumbing, electrical, construction, mold mitigation, asbestos removal, and countless other things we never would have known otherwise.
My last post was two months ago and much has transpired since that time. Unfortunately, our basement is still in a state of reconstruction and last Friday water appeared in the basement again, this time caused by a grading problem in the front of the house, no doubt exacerbated by heavy trucks and trailers used to haul old stuff our and new stuff in to the basement. Luckily our construction crew was able to dig a trench as a temporary solution until we return from our annual Midwestern swing (also known as a vacation). No water since and the drywall was not damaged by the leak. In all probability we will have to excavate in the front next.
On the good side, we are finally getting some positive gains on putting the basement, and somewhat our lives, back together. Drywall is up and taped. Ceiling is back in (at least part of it) and flooring should arrive within the week. We think there might be some light at the end pf the tunnel and hope to have the basement back within a month (crossing our fingers).
Throughout all of this we try to remind ourselves just how lucky we are to have all that we do and that this is just a temporary problem, but I'd be lying if I didn't admit we haven't felt unlucky through most of it all. We are so very grateful though to everyone near and far who has helped us with donations, cards, calls, and physical labor. It remains extremely humbling and a little embarrassing when we know others need so much more than we do...we will be forever grateful. The total costs of the project are now over $150,000.00 and we would have been in some serious difficulty without the help of so many others. To all of you, anonymous or otherwise, we say thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Monday, June 01, 2015

2015 Missoula Mile





Liam dragging me home. 9:54 for an 8 year-old with no training is not too shabby. Way to go buddy! We are at the 7:10 mark of the video.