Category: costa mesa

Back in California . . . again

I spent the holiday weekend in Costa Mesa, cleaning out my home office and also putting together the raised planter I made for Ingrid.

I’m pretty pleased with the planter, though Ingrid still has to fill it with soil and I wonder whether it will hold. It’s made of 2x6s and held together by 3/8in carriage bolts. I’ve never used carriage bolts before; I think they look slick. I also employed two lengths of threaded rod to hold the long sides together, keep them from bowing apart. The threaded rods are protected by lengths of Schedule 80 PVC pipe set into counterbores in the posts. I used pressure treated posts and now I’m worried whether they will let chemicals leach into the soil. I doubt it.


I already brought all my tools to Reno, so I didn’t have my angle grinder with me. Otherwise I would have gone through and cut down all those bolts at the nuts. Ingrid says it’s no big deal.

When I first designed the planter I decided to use 2x6s. Then I realized I would have a lot less work to do if I used 2x8s. But I forgot to update the bill of materials (engineer-talk for shopping list) and came home with a bunch of 2x6s. I had to re-drill a lot of the holes in the posts. Using 2x6s made for a lot of extra work.

The planter holds 56 cubic feet of earth, less the space taken by the posts (approximately one cubic foot), for a net of 55 cubic feet (1.6 cubic meters). That’s a lot of dirt you have to shovel in, 4,280 lbs worth. The next time I do something like this, the planter will be raised up off the ground, maybe with space for shelves underneath, so it won’t have to hold as much dirt.

Then I spent Sunday finally emptying and cleaning my home office, which as usual had shit piled up to the sky, even though I cleaned it out something like a year or so ago. Some the crap I got out of there had been sitting on the floor for almost a decade. At the end of the month Ingrid’s son Ryan will be moving in with his girlfriend who needs a home office, so this place will be perfect for her.


You guise have seen the model-making station before. The gun safe is in the closet at right. With only three rifles and one handgun it it, it looks bereft.


The rifles in the case (all old military surplus bolt-actions) will all have to move to Reno sometime in the next five months, otherwise it’s an illegal firearms transfer.


Hopefully Ingrid can put up some curtains to keep the glare off the computer screen (I used a National Geographic Historical Map of Europe). It all looks so nice now I almost wish I could stay. Almost.

In fact, every time I visit SoCal I am even happier with my decision to move.

Yesterday drove the RV home, up US-395, with Bella. We picked up a couple hitchhikers in Lone Pine who had just completed the John Muir Trail (out for 26 days) and needed a ride back to their car at June Lake. The southbound traffic on the US-395 was unbelievable, all those holiday travelers making their way back to LA. It was bumper to bumper for a few miles south of Lone Pine, I’d never seen anything like it before. My friend who lives in June Lake tells me during the last few years they have seen some huge increase in the number of vacationers to the Eastern Sierra, something like a 500% jump. Well, thankfully that will never be me stuck in that mess going down to LA at the end of the weekend.

Northbound was a breeze.

Except driving the RV is a pain at any time, and this was the longest I’d ever driven it, by a factor of six! Had a real hard time on some of the passes, or really any significant grade. Boy were we glad (Bella and I) to get home last night.

Heat wave

Generally, you don’t really need AC where we live, close to the ocean. It’s warmer inland where the office is, but our building’s temperature is moderated by the warehouse, where lots of trapped air cools off at night so that it (normally) never gets too warm until the end of the day. This week it has been hell, since it hasn’t cooled substantially at night like it usually does, so the office is already hot when you get in in the morning. Opening the doors lets more hot air in; closing them makes it stuffy. On Tuesday the crew went home early and they would have done so yesterday too except the freak rainstorm cooled things down a bit. I suspect today is going to be another short day.

Bella has been having a hard time too, she’s just never experienced this before. Driving her home is hard, because the car is hot inside and there’s no relief until we get to the house. Gotta hurry. Humidity is terrible this week.

I do worry about the move to Reno. It’s hot there during the summer and our building will have to be air conditioned. I wonder what that is going to cost to run.

Three kinds of heat

I have identified three kinds of heat:

  1. Eastern heat. This is the nasty, oppressively humid heat that blankets the North American continent east of the Rocky Mountains. Nothing like it in Europe. I have experienced an extreme version in Singapore.
  2. Low Desert, or Sonoran heat. Think Palm Springs. Relentless but dry heat, like living in an oven. There is no escape.
  3. High Desert, or Mojave heat. Very hot and dry in the sun, but instant refreshment if you can find some shade. It cools at night, offering some relief compared to Eastern and Low Desert heat.

I am betting on Reno having High Desert heat. Here in Costa Mesa, we are near the ocean, so it never really gets very hot, but lately we have been experiencing unusual humidity. However, as in the High Desert, as soon as the sun goes down it cools off. I don’t think you can say that about some of the inland valleys like the San Gabriel or the San Fernando.

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