Sunday, July 27, 2008

Living Room Floor

The Living Room Floor

I can't find my camera right now, but I have some existing photos that I want to share. Kathryn and I are in this really nice house in Carrollton . . . the guy that was the construction supervisor even lives across the alley at the other end of the block. The thing is about thirty years old - story and a half living room with a fireplace at the low end; open loft second living area above; three bedrooms up; master down. It's nice and roomy, and for a while we had five kids (three teenagers) in it with us.

We don't need that much room and had planned to downsize to a smaller house, but . . . this is better. Anyway, two summers ago we did the high wall in the living room and the floor in the living and dining rooms in paint. Yeah; we ripped up the carpet and just put down paint. It's kinda cool. These will show you what the floor looks like without furniture in it.
The upper image shows how the room looks from the foot of the stairs looking toward the front door. The lower image was shot leaning over the upper half-wall. The idea was to paint a checkerboard folded over on itself. This is the present state of the floor right now, two years later, except I have painted Dallas North Airport on one of the red squares and the deck plan of the USS Enterprise (CVA-N-65) on one of the blue ones. The idea is to be able to play with our micro-machines, flying them from one square to another. I will also be coming back to put a second coat down of denser color and paint a vining acanthus pattern twining amongst the squares.
I did paint a gloss black shadow under the concert grand piano (I have no idea what we'll do if we move the piano, and I have since painted the inside of the front door a pumpkin-peach color (a little darker than the wall). I will be outlining the glass with a dark green and putting a visual trimline about a quarter-inch thick on the first bevel of the molding to visually separate the two colors. It's coming along nicely.

This is an image of the front gate to our place, our forty-five acres in McDonald County, Missouri. You have to understand something here. I am a Texas boy from so far back Moses is still looking through his calendar. But, Lord have mercy! that place in the toenails of the Missouri Ozark foothills is just pretty. It is "raht fahn" even. While I'm figuring how to work this blog business, I'll load some more photos of the place. Mostly I have to go back through my image files and label them textually instead of in date order like the camera does it.

This summer I had hoped to spend a week or so up there mowing out the flying field and putting a footbridge over Gerald Creek. I have no clue if that watercourse has a name or not, but since we have to "Ford" it to get to the flying field on the western half of the property, well, naming it the Gerald Creek just seemed to make sense.

But I moved from a forty-mile-a-day gasoline habit (plus tolls) to a less-than-six-miles a day (by bicycle -- ooooh look; Hardage rebottled his pony keg into a six-pack! What a stud!) by moving from Lowery Freshman Center to Newman Smith High School in Carrollton. It is the first time in this career that I have taught in the town I live in. jIt's still not in the attendance area, so I won't be having teacher conferences at the grocery store. Anyway I applied to be an English Teacher. There are lots of those on the ground. So I got hired as a Tech Teacher. I am officially going to be a CADD instructor. So I have spent 8-10 hours a day at Mountain View re-learning how to draw. The first time I did this nobody had computers in the office. As in "nobody." Now nobody uses pens and triangles and isometric circle templates.

We haven't been to Missouri yet this summer.

Then, this summer's income looked to be slow, so Kathryn and I started at looking at our options. What came up as a multi-pronged solution was selling the house we live in (4BR, 1.5 LA, 2Bath, 2 stories) and downsizing. Our family-under-the-roof is down from six kids out of seven in the house to one and a half (Austin is at Paris Junior College). Then we figured out we'd owe the same money for half the house in a neighborhood with narrow streets. So we looked at refinancing -- Lending Tree looks good on the Internet, but you can wind up with some very aggressive loan-packaging operators. Then, at a publishing workshop, we found an organization - and a person/family - selling a software system that lets us move our own money the same way the bank moves our money: and this way we get to keep it. Bottom line: we'll have our everything paid off in around four and a half years (they're saying three, but I'm putting in a pucker factor) without getting medieval on ourselves. They talked about a particular process during a phone call Thursday evening, that I executed Friday morning on the way to class. I spent an hour and a half at the bank, BUT I wound up pulling a $14K credit account out of collection (the interest rate had gone from 8% to 20+% and was killing my lilly-white behind), cutting everything to a fixed interest rate of 3% for a 60-month loan and no sillyassed up-the-interest games. And they offered me another line of credit to boot. "DANGER, WILL ROBINSON!" This program has some possibilities. We're pursuing this.

For my new job at Newman Smith High School as a CADD instructor, I'm taking CADD classes at Mountain View Junior College. It's spanking me like a redheaded stepchild, but I kinda like that sort of stuff. I pulled a 99.15% for Summer I. Working in 3D is a beast till you figure out axis-management. Then it gets to be fun again. But I am getting there. I have been looking at teaching long enough to get my TRS money set back up (I took out six years the first time I quit) and buying five of my Navy years. That's around 36K. TRS will only let me contribute 25K/yr. That's pretty much two years.

Unless this debt reduction program works as advertised; however, Kathryn and I are disciplined enough to make it work, so I expect great things. Plus I'm hitting the Pinewood Derby really hard this year. Last year I had 400 cars go through the shop ( That is so much fun it's hard to describe, working with those little guys and their dads (and moms) to build their cars . . . I'm shooting for 500 this year by actively pursuing available leads. Southern courtesy - the way my mama raised me has its place and its values . . . but, dammit, when you're polite, a lot of times people stampede right over your . . . so I'm learning to be not so reticent. Plus, since we have the floor space, I'm looking to bring a tutoring center online in the same general space.

What made me see the tutoring center a possibility at all was bailing out of LFC. I had set it up where I was actually pulling in $1200-$1500/month from babysitting (detention) at $25/hour. CFBISD pays $300/mo less than AISD. Well; that's not fun, but the round trip is 5.8 miles instead of 40. The gasoline/tolls rollback is around $12/day . . . tutoring at $40/hr needs 38 kid-hours/month (9-10 kid-hours/week)(2 kid-hours/day) to bring that back up. Uh . . . I can do that. Several times. And I can hire other tutors for $25/hr to take the additional . . .

I perceive exciting options for this coming year.

Since we have two kids in college, and CFBISD pays less than I had been making, I'm going to be focusing on getting the cash flow back up to Lowery levels. I’ll do a kick-ass job for my contract assignment, and I'll just see how it unfolds after school hours.

I went to an Autodesk CADD workshop Friday . . . omigawd! Everybody say together, “Middle School CADD curriculum”. As in -- they have a middle school curriculum already packaged up. Excuse me. If I put a half dozen or a dozen (used) computers into workstations in the tutoring space and explain to parents how their baby can get portfolio academic credit at their school in summer day camp . . . (did I mention they also have a packaged HS curriculum) . . . I'll have to stand a troll with a large bog-oak stick at the front door to protect the hinges. So we draw it - 3D - and build it and play with it and get academic credit for it. Where’s the downside? Oh, and Hardage makes money! YEA!

Now that sets up the North Dallas market. And puts the cash-flow above the projected flowline.

Then - I take a portion of the cash I now have in hand since we've paid off the credit debt (and the mortgage) and pay cash for (off-the-grid solar and wind-turbine) improvements to the Missouri land and cookie-cutter this operation up there. Then I have an excuse for the pilot's license to commute back and forth. Two years of this and I buy the cave on its eighty-seven acres and develop the land above as another camp and the cave below as a separate operation. Then we go for the small Italian hotel.
This is do-able in my world.
One of the branches of this camp thing includes teacher training - especially guerilla training - use the garage; use the living room; rent an office suite; team up with a couple of buds in other disciplines and set up micro-learning nodes. The times are right for the adventurous.