Optimistic Logistic Fit

One Year

Greetings all!

It has been a long time since I’ve made an update about the house. There’s always something to be done around here, from re-arranging furniture to covering over old paint. Since it’s been a year, I figured I’d post an update with lots of pictures about what we’ve accomplished these last 12 months. I’ll go on a room by room tour of our home.

Garage: We haven’t done too much with the garage this past year. But there are potentially big plans coming. I did knock about a dozen wasps/hornets nests off the garage the other day before they all come back. We also had a bat box installed at the back of the garage. 

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We had bats in the attic and in the basement. We hired Joe the Batman to come install some one-way doors and close up any holes. He was super friendly and very fairly priced. He was one of the two good contractors we’ve had out. We had a general contractor come out to give us a quote and ideas about our bathroom. He said it would take him three weeks and we wouldn’t be able to use the bathroom during that time, so that wasn’t going to work. We also asked him about installing a dryer vent in the basement, he said it would be pretty cheap and he could do it in a couple weeks. Then, while walking around the outside of the house, he started eating pieces of our grass and told us to give him a call in 6 months. It was very odd.

Speaking of the bathroom, we had Mad City Bath come out to give us a quote for redoing the bathroom. It was a very weird and unpleasant experience. First, the salesman swore like a sailor and complained about his job most of the time. We agreed to do a bathroom remodel with them, and it was stupid expensive. About one week later a guy came by to do some measurements in the bathroom. We didn’t hear anything for two weeks when they sent another person out to take a couple pictures of our basement pipes. Another week went by and we got a call saying they couldn’t install the bathtub type we wanted and offered us an $80 discount. $80 was less than 50% of one monthly payment on a five year loan. So, that wasn’t going to work. They wanted another salesman to come back out to our house. We just said no, the time ran out for when they were contractually obligated to start the work, and we got our deposit back. Our advice is don’t be bullied by contractors. We looked more closely at their bad reviews online and they were scary. For instance, they are known for not getting the appropriate permits and throwing the home-owner under the bus. Anyway, it was very good that we got out of that contract!

Keeping in the bathroom, we have done a lot of work to make it look like what we want. When we first moved in, as you may remember, I was taking a shower and the pipe holding up the shower head just sort of fell apart. We got that fixed and haven’t had the same problem since. We put up bead board around the bathroom to cover some weird wall damage that had been painted over. We took out the giant vanity that hit your legs when going to the bathroom and replaced it with a wall-mounted sink. We covered the tile with peel-and-stick tiles. We removed a bunch of hair from the drain when moving the clawfoot tub to put tiles underneath. We bought a new toilet paper roll holder with bears on it and installed that. We also hired our favorite electricians (the other good contractor we’ve worked with), the Veeter Brothers. They installed two new lights above the mirror and a fan.

 

While installing the fan through the attic (and out the side of the house), they found really old eskimo pie wrappers. Apparently, a long time ago, someone was hiding their wrappers from their parents in the attic!

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Next stop on our tour is the kitchen. I guess this is as good a place as any to talk about the floors. We sanded the wood floors down and covered them anew. They look kind of amazing now! We found so much stuff under the oven when we moved it, it was gross. A DumDum found its way under and melted into the floor. Everyone should move their ovens every two or three years and do a good cleaning, it’s amazing and gross what you’ll find.

The first thing we did when we moved in was move the washer and dryer out of the kitchen and into the basement. There were already hookups for them down there, so it wasn’t that hard to set up. Moving them down there, on the other hand, was very difficult. We had to go out the front of the house and in through the cellar. The basement stairs weren’t wide enough. The difficulty with going the outdoor route, is that the stairs through the cellar door are not flat and there are three stairs going up before the six or seven going back down. But amazingly we got them downstairs without breaking them and got them set up and working. It’s been wonderful not having to share our laundry machines anymore.

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Back in the kitchen, we moved the refrigerator across the room as it was blocking a few cabinets and drawers. We hooked it up where the washer and dryer had been, unfortunately, the ice maker no longer works. We hooked the water up to it, but there might be something frozen somewhere or perhaps need a new part. Since we have ice trays, it’s not really that big of a deal. Where the refrigerator was, we put a rolling cart that now stores chips and condiments and houses Tatum’s coffee maker. We repainted just about the entire kitchen, took the drawers and cabinets off to repaint them. We’ve been a bit slow at putting the drawers and doors back, but we’re getting there. Tatum just finished repainting the last of the cabinet shelves so everything is white and clean. At some point, we’re going to redo the counter tops, but that project is still a ways off. Most excitingly, probably, is that we installed a dishwasher. We cut out the cabinet next to the sink and plopped it in. It only took four days and about fifteen trips to various hardware stores. Having a dishwasher is wonderful! The Veeter Brothers also replaced some outlets that had been tripping repeatedly on us. I think that’s just about it for the kitchen.

In the living room, when we first moved in, I tried to close the shades and they fell off the wall. We took them down and replaced them with a curtain. It was very long and didn’t look the best, so we switched it out with some faux-wood blinds. Now the house looks much classier and it’s way easier to close the blinds. We added some translucent sticky to the doors for privacy and painted some of the trim. Other than that, we’ve added a lot furniture and art. Currently, our treadmill also resides in the living room. It’s a good thing we got it a month ago or so as it makes it much easier to exercise without getting near other people. 

In the dining room, we’ve also added a blind (two windows still need blinds). We’ll get the rest of the blinds after this pandemic cools off. Again, mostly just furniture and art. Oh, we had Dirty Ducts come out and clean our Ducts and abate our asbestos. There was some asbestos in the heating vent and some around the ducts in the basement. The ducts were really gross, full of hair, lint, coins, pencils, etc. But we’ve had a lot fewer runny noses since we had them cleaned out, probably because Tatum is allergic to cats and previous owners had cats. The downstairs bedroom is similar to the other rooms on the first floor. We started by repainting the walls. We added one blind, and still need to get the other. We’ve moved the bed a few times, but it’s hard because the windows aren’t centered on the walls so there’s no place to put the bed that makes 100% sense. I think we’re at a happy place with it now, though. 

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Now we move into the upstairs. This was probably the most work for rooms we don’t use too much. We first tried to use a steam cleaner on the carpet. That didn’t go well, it just brought the smells to the surface and sprayed filth out the back side. We decided to pull out all the carpet upstairs. It was covered with stains, apparently, previous pets had been using the upstairs carpet as a litter box. Once we had all the carpet out, we painted the wood beams a nice grey (over Kilz). We then got a ~12′ carpet remnant in Baraboo that didn’t fit into the back of our car. We held onto it with the back door open as we drove the half hour home. It wouldn’t fit up the stairs, so we hauled it in through a window. I climbed a step ladder and shoved it in about 2 feet, while Tatum leaned on it and held on for dear life. I ran up the stairs and helped her pull it in through the window. It fit perfect. We then got a futon for that room and set it up. Even though that room is the bigger of the two, I would call it our back-up guest room. The futon isn’t the most comfortable, so it’s probably better for kids.

The other, smaller room has a full size bed. We got the frame from the street in Middleton (with a free sign on it). It’s metal and was covered in spider webs, so we put it in the garage for a while to air out. We then spray painted it and now it looks really nice. Since a standard mattress won’t fit up our stairs, we ordered a rolled up mattress. We got it up the stairs, cut the cords off, and it shot open! It was fun and a little bit dangerous to open in such a small room. We’ve used that room a few times when guests come stay. 

Last for inside the house is the basement. We cleaned out an old room that had been more or less forgotten about. It was full of dirt, broken glass, and boxes of picture frames. After returning the picture frames to the previous owners, we cleaned out all the dirt and glass. We sprayed the entire basement with Ms. Moffett’s revenge (an insecticide and spider-cide). There were thousands of spiders and other insects in the basement. During a bad storm we weren’t able to sleep in the basement because the ceiling was crawling. After that settled, we painted the small dirty room with a refillable spray painter. Now that it’s white and clean, we are using the room as a pantry. It’s really come in handy these days as we have lots of canned vegetables and fruits, along with dry goods like pastas. My goal is to one day make the basement a livable space, with maybe a couch or a futon, a TV, maybe a mini-fridge, etc. We did add a stand alone freezer on the other side of the basement, next to the washer and dryer. That has also been super helpful as we’ve been stocking up on bread from Kwik Trip over the last few months during their 49 cent bread sales and storing them in the freezer. 

In the front porch, there was some really old carpet with tar-like substance underneath that was used to install the carpet. We stripped that out, did our best to remove the tar, and painted the floor blue. We now use it for growing vegetables. I think that just about leaves us with the yard. First, we added a digital TV antenna to our existing TV tower and are happy to now get about 15 stations including the news and Packers games. We removed some fence from the front yard and an unused compost area. We bought a giant compost bin on a turner. We have been slowly repainting the back porch a nice shade of blue. Unfortunately, that project started the day before it got cold so we had to put it on hold. We had the electric company cut some branches off the wires. 

We trimmed some other branches and put up a couple bird feeders. We still have an incredibly long list of projects, but every project gets us feeling a little better!

CNN COVID-19 Post 3

Over the last three days, I have logged the change in the reproductive rate of the virus over time. Some states are maintaining, some states are increasing, some states are decreasing. Keep in mind, a reproductive rate of 1.3 indicates a 30% increase in cases per day. I am encouraged to see Michigan and West Virginia coming down, since 60% new cases every day is a lot.

I also made a figure for the total cases (in Tableau) and the reproductive rate is 1.35. Since it’s just one graph, I’ll put it here instead of a new Tableau viz. But you’re welcome to check out the updated daily graphs for each state here.

CNN COVID-19 Data 2

This past week I’ve created a Tableau dashboard page (https://public.tableau.com/views/CNNCOVIDDataOverTimeAJF1/Dashboard1?:display_count=y&:origin=viz_share_link) from CNN data (https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/03/health/us-coronavirus-cases-state-by-state/index.html). I’m updating it regularly; now it has trendlines (if you hover over the line you can see the slope and R^2 for each state). Overall, the exponential model fit better (R^2 = 0.97) than the linear model (R^2 = 0.71). I used yesterday’s data to create an expected set of data for today and compared that to the actual results. The figure below (made in MS Excel, so I can add it here) has the results. Many states and territories are pretty far off, though, several (~20) are within 5%.

Points above the line the model predicted MORE than the actual number of cases, for points at the line, the model predicted the SAME; for points below the line the model predicted FEWER than actual. Overall, the model predicted 13% more cases than actual. I suspect every day I add new data, the models will perform a little better at predicting the next day. We should soon see if the sheltering in place measures have had any effect, though I’ll let you determine that for yourself.

The Great Wild Carrot Hunt

In the coming months Tatum and I will be taking an epic road trip right through the heart of the country from our home here in Portage out to San Diego to see some old friends, up the California coast, and then back home with stops at the Boise Fry Company and Yellowstone National Park. Along the way I will be sampling some wild carrot plants as part of a project to map the population genetics of wild carrot.

In the three photos directly below, the first shows off the white flower of wild carrot. Occasionally, the flower will have a purple (it looks black to me) small flower at the center. Not all flowers have it, but if it does, that’s a good indicator you’ve got yourself wild carrot. The second photo is a field of carrot at a compost site here in Wisconsin. Wild carrot seems to be a pretty bad competitor, but when you level the playing field via a single mow in spring, the wild carrot goes crazy. There’s a pretty clear difference in carrot density in areas that were mowed versus areas that were not. Finally, the bottom picture shows some carrot leaves, I don’t have a ton (or maybe any) good photos of carrot leaves (you’re welcome to Google it) but on the right side of the photo and the bottom half there are wild carrot leaves.

There are a handful of noxious plants that have similarities to wild carrot, though each is pretty easy to discern. Wild carrot look-a-likes may have giant leaves (link), may have yellow flowers (link) or a couple may have purple splotches on the stem or fine fern-like leaves (video). Wild carrot has (usually) several white flowers on one plant, one main stem with a flower and up to 6 branches coming off the main stem with flowers of their own. It grows between 2′-4′ (shorter plants can flower if mowed repeatedly) and has white whispy hairs on the stem. If you’re unsure, leave it be!

Back to the project! A postdoc in the lab, Luciano, has already found some pretty cool preliminary results with respect to some East Coast, Midwest, and West Coast samples we’ve obtained. To fill in this preliminary map, I’ll be collecting from as many populations as feasible (3-5 per state). We are testing to see if there are gradients across the country or perhaps full on breaks, say because of mountains or other gene flow barriers. This is a really great opportunity for me, Luciano, and Johanne. You can help us, too (folks outside Wisconsin)! I am looking for some locations to sample wild carrot along the route so I don’t end up on a wild goose chase. The route we’ll be taking is below:

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The states and cities we’ll be going through include: Iowa (Dubuque, Iowa City, Des Moines), Nebraska (Omaha, Lincoln, North Platte), Colorado (Julesburg, Denver, Grand Junction), Utah (Green River, Salina, St. George), Arizona (Beaver Dam), Nevada (Mesquite, Las Vegas), California (Baker, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Jose, San Francisco, Sacramento), Nevada again (Reno), Oregon (McDermitt, Rome), Idaho (Boise, Pocatello, Idaho Falls), Wyoming (Pinedale, Casper), South Dakota (Rapid City, Sioux Falls), and Minnesota (Luverne, Albert Lea, Rochester).

If you live in or around those cities, or travel along the route, and know of some locations that have wild carrot populations (it’s pretty ubiquitous here in the Midwest, but not so much so in places like Utah and Nevada), send me a message at daucus.carota.locations(at)gmail.com. I would love an address or GPS location of something fairly accessible from the major highways (obviously collecting along the interstates is frowned upon!). It’s going to be an epic adventure and Tatum and I would love your help!

I’ve already gotten some help from some great folks at the herbaria of University of Colorado, Drake University, Iowa State University, and Utah State University. I have found the SEIN network page for D. carota and it is super helpful, the only drawback is that many of the records are quite old and some places are not yet accounted for. I plan to use DIVA-GIS in the next few days to make a map of where I might expect to find them and will post that here soon!

Tri-weekly update

It’s been a while, again, and there have been lots of happenings! First, as soon and mysteriously as she came to stay, she left again. So we say thanks to Terri for helping out around the house while she was here.

I don’t remember exactly when it happened, but Tatum ripped out the carpet from upstairs to find more odd things on the floor below. A lot of paint stains and some stain we’d rather not know about.

During the weekend sale-a-thon in town, we found a bag of books at the Portage Library sale. At the thrift store we found some trinkets and at the Columbia County Humane Society garage sale we found a little porcelain frog. Finally, we found a really great table for Myles, the turtle. it’s very fancy.

We had one tulip come up this year, a bunny ate the other one before we got to see it. In a related note, we got a new lawn mower! It has a 14″ cut width and a cord. It was not a quick job, but we got it done all the same. We had to empty the bag often but it looked great by the end! We even used the grass shavings as a form of mulch around the house.

This past weekend we took the heavy appliances to the basement with the help of an appliance dolly. As with everything related to this house, it was not as easy as it could have been. The stairs from the kitchen to the basement are too small to fit appliances, so we had to go out the front door, down the front stairs, up the two stairs of the entrance to the cellar and then down those 6 awkward stairs. After using the dolly to get down the front stairs we hoisted (one at a time) the freezer, the washer, and the dryer up the two stairs, and man-handled them down to the basement. In one of those I-can’t-believe-this-happened moments, all three of the machines still seem to work. We even did a load of wash tonight; it’s drying inside since we don’t have the dryer vented out yet.

The last photo below is just a fun bonus. I hope they don’t impound me! I’m sure other things have happened, and as always there will be more pictures coming!

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Biweekly Home Update #1

It’s been a couple weeks so I suppose we’re due for an update. Last weekend we were at the Neubert’s wedding in Milwaukee. We got just enough snow to make the pictures really beautiful. Most of my paintball bruises from the bachelor party have even healed! That weekend we didn’t really get anything done around the house. Barkley got a vacation to Waggin’ Tails Doggie Dude Ranch in Verona and seemed to have a good time.

As far as recent home projects go, basically Tatum has been getting things somewhat organized such that it’s starting to feel a bit like home. We got some art hung around the house, all of the critters made the trip to Portage and are adjusting well, and the kitchen is pretty well packed full. We’re going to make a basement room into a pantry to help alleviate some of the fullness; we also plan to take some of our “makers” downstairs (quesadilla maker, egg mcmuffin maker, bacon bowl maker, blender, etc). Before we were able to start on the pantry, though, we had to get the asbestos covered up and the ducts cleaned out. The cleaning happened on Friday (Dirty Ducts) and the before and after pictures are kind of gross, quite frankly. I’ll be sure to add those to this post when I get them.

Saturday and Sunday we celebrated my 30th birthday in various ways. First, we went to Cave of the Mounds National Natural Landmark. We took a tour of the cave and learned all about stalactites, stalagmites, and cave bacon. Then we had lunch at the Nitty Gritty, visited some garage sales, and worked on hanging curtains over our ten foot wide living room window. At one garage sale we found a great Coca-Cola serving tray and cart from the previous owner of the Rhinelander Coca-Cola factory. Sunday my mom and step-dad visited with a nice table and a grill in toe. We just barely started cooking some meat Sunday night when the storms rolled through, so we finished grilling a tuna steak and some hamburgers in the garage. The table didn’t fit through the back door, because nothing can ever be straight forward! So we unlocked the bottom and opened it up as far as it can be opened and we were just able to slide one end in, turn the table, and slide the other end diagonally in. After the front door, it fit through the kitchen door just fine and we now have a place to eat meals! So if you’re keeping score at home, we have one guest bedroom just about finished, the master bedroom finished, and the dining room just about finished. We still need to get our entertainment center and sofa from the apartment to finish the living room.

We also had a pair of surprise visits last weekend. First, my brother and his family stopped by on their way through to see the house. Second, we got a surprise visitor from Louisiana. Tatum’s mom will be spending some time with us as she adjusts to life in Wisconsin. She couldn’t have picked a much better time to get up here! She’ll be staying in the finished guest bedroom with her little poodle, Annebelle.