Monday, December 12, 2011

Fun With Jericho

Jericho thinks, "Once Mamma and Papa are finished builidng a new kitchen and bathroom, maybe they will have more time to go outside with me!"

Fun with big cousin Erin at Thanksgiving!


Jericho picks a Christmas Tree.

Jericho loves to share her food. Just ask!

Putting It All Together

Our contractor Nick was faced with a serious challenge piecing new flooring together with the old. This area of the floor is where the basement stairs used to be.

Here is the finished work, with some heavy sanding completed as Steve and I prepare to finish the floor.

A useful trick my father taught me was to number everything that you take apart. When I took out the flooring from this closet turned stairway I did just that, making the process of piecing a portion of it back together a lot easier.

The stained glass windows are in! Pictures of the final product are to come, but here Laura and I took advantage of the unseasonably warm weather we had in November to paint outside.

I can't remember if I posted pictures of our two new trees. Thanks to the City of York, York Country Rotary, our neighbors, and the State Conservation.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Politics Indeed

Even abortion rights advocates agree; this decision was political. Health Secretary Kathleen Sibelius has declared that the morning-after pill will continue to be held behind the counter and available to teenagers 17 and older only, except with parental permission. This contradicts the strong recommendation of the FDA.

This excerpt from the Associated Press on

"We are outraged that this administration has let politics trump science," said Kirsten Moore of the Reproductive Health Technologies Project, an advocacy group. "There is no rationale for this move."
"What else can this be but politics?" said Cynthia Pearson, executive director of the National Women's Health Network, an advocacy group that supports making Plan B available to all ages. "It's not science. It's not medicine. It's not women's health."

Indeed, FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg made clear in her own statement that the decision is highly unusual. She said her agency's drug-safety experts had carefully considered the question of young girls and that she had agreed that Plan B's age limit should be lifted.

As the primaries heat up in Iowa, the Obama administration cannot afford to follow through with this rule change, despite how desperately they would like to. It is completely naive to assume that the administration did not have anything to do with Sibelius' announcement. It is likewise naive to not assume that if President Obama is re-elected, the rule will be immediately changed. The President has shown no hesitation in using Executive power to advance the pro-abortion agenda.

The morning-after pill works in the same way that most regular birth control pills work, albeit in a more concentrated and sudden way. The drugs are designed to delay ovulation and prevent implantation. In the strictest sense, these drugs may cause the death of a fertilized egg. A website that brings together basic facts about how the morning-after pill works can be found here. Even Planned Parenthood admits that "In theory, this could prevent pregnancy by keeping a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus." Their website goes on to insist that this is not abortion.

We should ask ourselves whether-
1) Disregarding a legitimate definition of human life (conception) is a good principle
(Why is there so little honest debate on this most vital question? We ignore it at our peril.)
1) Undercutting parental control and responsibility is a good principle
(Should we legislate to the lowest common denominator?)
2) Empowering irresponsible behavior is a good principle
(Why do we spend so much time accommodating behavior instead of addressing it head on? Don't we all understand that quitting smoking, a behavior change, is the best way to reduce cancer risk?)
3) Further distancing our children from sound medical advice via a family physician is a good principle

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

More Fun at Madison

Here's another picture of the new shower. As you can see, there is a large window on one side of the shower. There are two panes of stained glass that go in that window. Rather than sacrifice the historical character, our contractor buit this all weather window which can be wet on a regular basis but will seal the stained glass.

 Fun in the closet!

The time... is now.
The place... your whole house.
The problem... DUST!

Monday, November 21, 2011

An Overdue Update: The "Almost Finished" Bathroom

Thanks for following along as we continue this long and tortured re-model of the our new old house! The bathroom is fully functioning and almost complete, save some caulking, a switch plate, and the re-installation of the stained glass windows behind the all-weather plexiglass.
It's hard to imagine that the work shown in the pictures below happened in September!

Laura was the sous-chef for the tiling project
while I did the mounting and cutting with the wet saw.

We have successfully fooled almost every new guest
to the bathroom with our vinyl flooring.

A good picture of the tiling going up. These hard plastic spacers were easier to use than the spongy x-shaped type. They had a tendency to fall out repeatedly with the tiniest shift, but were so easy to put back and remove at the end. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Experience Trap

The WSJ ran an interesting article today examining the problem U.S. companies are having finding qualified employees for a variety of jobs. The author hones in on what can be described as an "experience gap." Prospective employees are ineligible for open positions because they lack experience, yet no one is willing to hire them and give them that experience. Unpaid internships are fiercely competitive as a result. I have personally been frustrated by the dearth of "entry level positions" in previous job hunts. To a certain extent, this is not a new problem.
A few thoughts:
Notice in the graphic that "drivers" moved up from number 7 in "hardest jobs for U.S. employers to fill" to number 4. Changes in laws about commercial licensing may be the culprit in this case. Anecdotal evidence from here in York, PA suggests that obtaining and maintaining  a license for a school bus has become so cumbersome that bus companies are turning away work for lack of drivers.
Similarly, one has to suspect that federal NCLB requirements are behind the sudden appearance of teachers in the top ten list for 2011. While most school systems are cutting jobs and doing more with less, the "highly qualified" designation is now mandatory. As the job of a public school teacher gets more difficult, and pay fails to keep pace, this job will become increasingly difficult to sell.
At the same time, I find the overall premise of the article slightly hard to believe. Are U.S companies really that short-sighted? I tend to think that if it really made economic sense to train the necessary workforce companies would do it. Every employer is going to wish for the ideal candidate, fully trained and ready to work for an entry level wage. If at some point these companies found that robust training programs were worthwhile, I think they would have them up and running in a heartbeat. The truth is, despite complaints, there are plenty of good fish in the sea.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

My Cement Sandbox

This was bathroom demo weekend! We're finally moving full steam ahead on the house.

Our contractor spent all day Friday pulling out plumbing, and my Pop Phil, Mike, and I spent a combined total of 23 man-hours Saturday and Sunday tearing out walls, ceiling, and tiling. For such a small room, look how much trash we made!

But my favorite part of this job was the floors. Underneath the tile was a couple inches of cement backing which pried up fairly easily. Beneath the tile and backing was approximately 6 inches of concrete cinders filling the space in between each floor beam. The cinders had to be smashed and hammered into pieces and then scooped out (a garden hand spade proved the best tool for this!). Notice how the beams have been beveled- from all appearances- by hand.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Meet Cynthia

Yesterday began a whole new era in our family life. We are now parents of a teenager! Cynthia arrived at 7:30 PM Sunday and joins our family for the year through Private School Exchange. Cynthia's hometown is Shenzhen, China. She will be in 11th grade at York Country Day School, where Asa teaches. Anyone who has done an Asia to east coast flight knows that it is a brutal 20 hours, so we thought Cynthia was in pretty good spirits when she arrived!

Friday, August 26, 2011

The NFL Meritocracy

Is the NFL the "ultimate meritocracy," as  Roger Goodell recently claimed? The commissioners comments, reported here on ESPN, were accompanied by a 1 million dollar donation to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Foundation in Washington D.C.

Dr. King's legacy is certainly one to honor, but is the NFL in a position to really do so? Is there a particular hypocrisy being put on display, or has the NFL truly been a friend to the hopes and ideals the MLK gave his life for?

I must admit that I am not a friend of the NFL, although I do enjoy watching football on television. Pofessional football, as with all professional sports in the U.S., has a spotted history in regards to race. But I get the feeling that the NFL prides itself in somehow being above the fray, at least compared to baseball and basketball.

Statistics about the number of young men of all races who squander their minds and talents chasing the fools gold of an NFL career are grim. Statistics about the number of injuries and disappointments among those lucky enough to make it to the NFL at all are grim as well. Is that a meritocracy? Or is the kind of "meritocracy" that Dr. King worked for something a bit different than what Goodell had in mind with his foolish comparison?

I think of my classmate from Northwestern, Jason Wright. A talented football player who, though undrafted, played for nearly a decade in the NFL by espousing hard work, leadership, and right living. The NFL served him well it would seem. But he also did things the right way, not sacrificing NFL dreams for a stellar education. The reality is, and Jason would wholeheartedly agree, is that he was simply blessed. That's not true for everyone of his teamates. For some, the NFL may be yet one more crushing example of why we still need today to embrace the lessons that Dr. King preached when he was still with us.

    RB Jason Wright

Friday, August 19, 2011

Jericho Swims the Chesapeake!

Our amazing 7 month year old justified the overnight shipping on her infant lifejacket a hundred times over by embracing the bay experience fully! She sailed with us from Crab Alley Creek (Kent Island, MD) north to Chesapeake City, MD last week. Go Jericho.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Primer and More

So, as much as it pains me to admit, we definitely bit off more than we could chew giving ourselves just 4.5 days to scrape, patch, and prime three bedrooms, a long hallway, and a large living room. We worked long days, slowing as we got tired, and missing little Jericho very much.

Thankfully, God provided a handful of wonderful friends to help us along the way. Thank you to Dave and Cyndi Kalinoski, Ben and Bekah Murray, Chris Drinkut, and the Anderson family!
Where was Jericho during all of this madness? With mother Church of course! Thanks mom.

We finished priming 2 of the bedrooms and the hallway, AND the living room is now in full color. Enjoy the pictures.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Demolition Update: Before and Now...and after?

Demolition Day got us off to a great start with the remodeling of our 1912 Arts and Crafts house in York, PA. But so much has happened since then!

The kitchen walls have gone from yellow faux-brick wall board, to the mounting lathe beneath it, to bare plaster.

We've pealed back the walls around the back stairs in preparation for their removal and expansion of our kitchen.

 (These are the basement stairs, in their place will
be the fridge, stove, and countertop.)

The dining room closet is ready to be converted to the new basement stairs.

 (We're hoping to recycle the wood flooring we
carefully pulled up in the closet by using it to repair
flooring in a second floor bedroom!)

And most recently, and perhaps most exciting: the kitchen floor has gone from three layers of linoleum (one for every three decades I suppose) to bare wood. Thank to Jon Allen for his assistance in getting the floors to this point!

(While we sanded a lot of lines, stains, and old adhesive off the floors,
another mystery line appeared. It appears to be some sort of cut made when
installing previous flooring but even more interestingly, it seems to have dyed the
wood around it!)

We can't wait for the final product. Then we'll have true before and after photos!

The "Scream" Shower

An update on the progress at Madison Avenue is long overdue! It's hard to imagine that we've only been in our new house for three weeks... or that we'll ever have a real kitchen. This weekend we made a huge stride forward with the successful sanding of the kitchen floor. More on that in a bit.

First, in the week after "demo" day, I tackled the scary basement apartment shower room. When we first opened the door, the pervading odor of mold was sickening. We assumed moisture over time, a leaky shower head, and the general dampness of the basement had led to the mold. Once I removed the linoleum flooring, it became obvious that the wall board was completely rotten on the bottom. There was also a nasty patch of black mold behind the radiator.

 As scary as it looks, we haven't ripped out the actual shower, made of cinderblock and tile. We think it might be useful in the future at some point.

But only with some more standard plumbing change (yes, the scary little hole in the side of shower wall is the drain into an open basement floor drain on the other side of the wall!).