Category Archives: Homes4Families

EMHE Build – Day Seven

Today was the final day, the last push, “ending” with the “Move That Bus!” moment.

I wasn’t there.

I was again back at the office, dealing with the banking and insurance and payroll and all of those mundane and boring and critical things that keep the company running. Which is fine by me – I think I’m allergic to those in “The Business.” I’ll pass on the crowds, the multiple takes, the interminable adjustments of minutia for reasons that only God, the director, and the cinematographer understand.

While busy as all get out (and still sore and exhausted from my five days on site and the frantic, crazed couple of weeks leading up to the EMHE Build) at the office, I felt a little bit like Michael Collins. Everyone remembers Armstrong and Aldrin because they walked on the moon, but Collins was “the other guy,” the guy who stayed in orbit around the moon while the moon landing was going on. His job was critical to the mission’s success and getting everyone back home safely – but the other guys got the marquee gig.


I just hope that everything got wrapped up and it’s over. I’m sure there will be a ton of loose ends to deal with next week and probably all through September, on both the site and back at the office. (A LOT of things got shoved onto the back burner to make this thing happen.) But for now, I need a few days off, and I’m sure the rest of my co-workers do as well.

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EMHE Build – Day Six

Today was not a day of heat, spiders, dirt, mortar, or total exhaustion for me on The Build. With literally every single person in our company working up in Palmdale on this event all week long, we finally got to the point where there was stuff that had to be done back at the office.

Forms to be filled out and sent ASAP to this government agency. Pictures and documents to be sent to that government agency. Payroll!! Deposits to be made to the bank. Insurance documents for the construction to get submitted. And so on.

Being the Director of Finance, that meant me. I had actually planned on going up for the 4PM-11PM shift after about six hours in the office, but it turned out to not be necessary and I was waved off and told to stay back at the fort.

Instead, I took some time to take care of the blisters on my feet.

So tonight, let’s look at what the 100% fashion-clueless CFO wears on the job site while trying to not actually have a heart attack and completely screw up the construction schedule.

There are strict rules about wearing hard hats on site, with really good reasons. I like my melon intact and uncracked, so I wore one every day, no exceptions.


The back of my neck and ears and face got sunburned far more than I liked on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, no matter how much sunscreen I put on and kept putting on. Hard hats might keep your cabeza in one piece, but they do a lousy job of providing shade.

I have a very nice “adventure hat” that I love for hiking and kayaking and being out in the sun, but it’s not hard. I finally noticed a couple of the seasoned professionals on site wearing floppy, wide-brimmed hats under their hard hats, so what the heck, I thought I would give it a try.

And it worked great! I was worried about the hard hat falling off, but I used the adjustable headband to open up wide, go over the top of the adventure had, and then get snugged down. It felt comfortable, it wasn’t off balance or threatening to fall off, it did a great job of shading my ears, face, and neck, and I still had the necessary protection.

I just had no idea that it made me look so freakin’ stupid!

I would also note that not a single one of my co-workers said a thing about how it looked. So either I’m being too judgmental after the fact, or they just thought that we needed the comic relief in what has been a high stress situation.

I’m good either way.

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EMHE Build – Day Five

Trigger warning – spiders.














I’ve put a LOT of work into this block wall recently. It’s one of a gazillion dozen little things that we’ve been juggling in dealing with the “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” build experience, but it’s a really big one.

Part of what that involves is lugging a LOT of blocks around. They arrive on pallets, but there are a few different types, they get mixed and scattered, people pull them to use for their own purposes here and there. They need to get picked back up, they need to get moved to where they’re being put onto the wall, and so on.

My experience today, when I moved and lugged a LOT of blocks, was that about every 1 in 20 had an occupant.

I probably squished fifteen to twenty of them today. No mercy – I hate the little fuckers. But I was surprised how little anxiety or outright terror there was when I started running across them.

First of all, I had seen their distinctive webs, so I was pretty sure they were around. There wasn’t any surprise factor to deal with.

Secondly, I was wearing work gloves, so the chances of actually being bitten were negligible.

Still, it made a long, hot day a bit more interesting.

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EMHE Build – Day Four

Today I’ve shifted over to the night shift. The good news is that it meant I at least finally got eight hours of sleep. (It had been a while…) The bad news is that I’ll be here until well after midnight tonight.

So let’s have a desert sunset picture, to go along with all of the desert sunrise pictures from the last few days.

Posting from the H4F/EMHE site, building block wall in 40 knot winds gusting to 55 in the middle of the night (but at least it’s 80° and not 112°!!)…

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EMHE Build – Day Three

The desert may be hotter than a freaking griddle during the day and freezing cold at night and be filled with dust & tumbleweeds & rattlesnakes & fire ants & lots of other things that suck. But it’s tough to beat their sunrises and sunsets.

I’ve been seeing way, WAY too many of the former recently

But this doesn’t suck.

It was tough finding a spot that didn’t have construction equipment or light towers or a crane in it.

As it got lighter the incredibly vivid colors finally faded. But not before another favorite dusk/dawn visitor swung by:

Click on the image to expand it to full size – I’m giving you the full resolution version. Right in the middle, right about in the middle of one of those small, thin, clouds, is a bright dot. That would be the ISS, traveling around at 25,000 mph and captured on a freakin’ iPhone! (For the moment I’ll ignore the “meh” responses by co-workers.)

Tomorrow we switch sleep cycles. I’ve been working the 05:00 to 13:00 shifts (which mean getting up at 03:00 and actually working until 15:00, 16:00, or later) but tomorrow I’m on the 18:00 to midnight shift. That means I’m desperately trying to stay up tonight until at least 23:00 so that my poor, beaten up body doesn’t revolt and wake me up in the middle of the night tonight and leave me completely high and dry tomorrow afternoon.

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EMHE Build – Day Two

Let’s start with the tiny little nugget of good to be found today:

It was quite lovely to see dawn approaching with a 3/4 moon up there. Not lovely enough to justify getting out of bed at 03:00, but that goes without saying.

It was already in the mid 80’s at that time of the morning, which was a foreshadowing of this:

(Image from WeatherUnderground)

One thing here is a lie – there is now way that was a 0|2 wind situation. Try 25 gusting to 40+.

So, after way, WAY more than eight hours of that for the second day in a row (five more to go!) my 60 minute ride home turned into a 95 minute ride home due to:

(Image from Google Maps)

The southern (left) side of that red section was where two of the three lanes were blocked with several dozen fire trucks fighting a brush fire.

Let’s do it again tomorrow!


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EMHE Build – Day One

Up at 3:00, onsite at 5:00, out in 102° heat for nine and a half hours, an hour-plus drive home, then a couple hours of dealing from home with other emergencies on the site. And tomorrow I get to do it again.

But the bus was there for the big kickoff…

Lest you believe that I’m a hard core, card carrying curmudgeon with no soul who’s incapable of finding any good in a tough situation (which BTW has a very high probability of being 100% correct) I would note that there are very early morning ISS passes this week. I was able to easily spot this morning’s pass in the dawn’s early light and showed a handful of co-workers and volunteers who had arrived early. And tomorrow I get to do THAT again as well.

These may be the first morning ISS passes I’ve ever seen!

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