Entry Number 343
Log Name Edging Home
Date Range 04.24.06 - 07.10.06 Previous Entry Next Entry
Rant
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I ate the whole thing! (ok, Ben helped a little)
Where's Bryan?
I'm right here. Still in San Diego. Still working on the site.

I don't know why I find it so hard to do an entry, when after seven years I was pretty consistent. Maybe it's cuz Blogs are everywhere, and I just don't like to do what everyone else is doing. Maybe I like privacy and keeping to myself a bit more these days. Could be I just don't have much to say that anyone would care to hear about.

So it's been three months since I even thought about sharing. I just started working on the site full-force and it's coming along. Not gang-busters, but maybe in another month I can pay myself. I hope.

It's funny, about once a day I get emails from people that say things like "Congrats to your production team." or "I'm not sure I am writing the right staff member about this, but..." or "Can you pass this on to your art department."

A model I worked with 4-5 years ago wrote me miffed that his password didn't work anymore and demanding I pay him for a model he had referred to me. Thankfully I still have a copy of the check he cashed for the referral. Don't know if all this time he thought I owed him money, or he suddenly thought I was a cash cow.

Which is what I think happened. He ended his letter with a telling pronouncement, "I knew you were one of those people that would get rich and famous and forget about all the little people."

Uhhhhhhhhhh...I'm not even taking a salary here, thinking of selling my house to get some cash out of it, and I have former models claiming I'm too rich and snobby. Go figure.

I am definitely leaning back to my reclusive side.

After the videos came online, the site became five times as expensive. Free memberships are awfully hard to give out, especially since the AEBN feeds are there. Those feeds suck a huge amount of cash and bandwidth. 56 movies each month. It's very expensive!

So I've gotten more cautious and give the memberships out to people that really should have them. Hell, there are 300 models on the site. If I gave each of them memberships they would take up a big percentage of my actual membership. (Sadly)

People seem to think the site is bigger than it actually is. Which seems to be a burden, and good thing.

Makes me smile that people see all the stuff and think that a bunch of people must be responsible for it. It's just me. And that is pretty satisfying. But some of this other stuff coming along is just plain no fun.

I do have people helping out here and there. Ben and Bill are helping me find models.

I think Ben has gotten burned out trying to find local guys. He's definitely given up on the gay guys in San Diego, running in to the attitude I had.

Bill is actively looking for models as well. The hunt for models is truly the hardest part of this job. It's very hard to find guys that are the most widely appealing, plus there are so many other sites out there snatching them up. It's tough.

My parents help out here and there. My mom's been doing most of the bookkeeping, and my dad has always handled taxes and those icky number thingies.

So I spent a couple months really working on the site and working on as many projects as I could.

Then I ran out of things to do, other than worry about how I was going to make money.

That's when I started....

THE YARD PROJECT!

Welcome to yet another HGTV webisode. No, those stuffy folks at HGTV haven't discovered what an incompetent Do It Yourself'er I am and just how entertaining that could be. I'm just spreading my ineptitude for you all to see.

In my last journal, I showed the changes to my office. If you go back and look at those pics, you may see that I have a window with a view out on to the back patio, and a closer look would reveal a yard in dire need of updating. It's in my field of vision as I work at my computer, so I just had to get out there and tackle it.

At first I was staying really low budget, as in, spend less than a hundred bucks.

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Before

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Before
I started by clearing out flowerbeds and trimming the trees to let some light in. Getting mulch down was my number one priority for all this. Everytime it would rain, the mud and dirt would splash up on the patio. I added some edging to help keep the mulch from spreading on to the patio as well.

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After

I added a few small plants, along with some oleander to run along the fence. I had decided to not replace the chain link fence since the viney ground cover was growing up over it- eventually it will be a wall of green. But the oleander will grow much faster and will block out the chain link faster. It will eventually look pretty cool to have the wall of green with flowering oleander in front. But for now, it looks a bit paltry.


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I ended up on the far side of the house, an area that is in full view from the kitchen. This view being just as dismal and dilapidated as the one from my office. A falling down fence, and pathetic retaining wall, overgrown and neglected- it really needed a makeover.

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Ok, so I thought, I can handle the "retaining wall", after all it was just a rotted and termite eaten plank. The lumber aisle is one over from the plumbing aisle, and I spotted the sprinkler pipes and heads.

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Did you know that the pvc piping and even the sprinkler heads are extremely cheap?! I think I spent less than $15 on heads, elbows, t-junctions, and the piping. Why did I wait to do this project?

So I thought since I was digging up the retaining wall, I may as well dig up the pipes (actually some were above ground, I just snapped 'em off!) and redirect all the water away from the house.

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I pulled up the plank, dug up the lemon tree that was not going to work on this narrow walkway, and yanked and killed the weeds and grass that had infiltrated this zone.
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Once I had the lemon tree out I could dig up the piping that was under ground at ground level, but was actually above ground at the top. Its strange how they actually had the pipe down at the bottom, ran it up the slope, and aimed the sprinklers towards the house. Its as if they were worried about damaging the fence? Which to be honest, might have fallen over with even the slightest bit of water pressure from the sprinklers.

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Before

The new configuration now runs along the walkway and the sprinkler heads actually spray the flower bed and not the side of the house.

Reconfiguring the sprinklers wasn't too bad. It's pretty easy to put the pipes together- it's like a puzzle that isn't as fun because you have to dig the trenches.

I didn't count on bee stings. The ground cover plants in the bed are flowering, and the bees love them. I got stung three times during that first day. That's when I switched to gloves. It's true I can learn, but I guess I have to have bee venom pumped in to my fingers three times first.

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Heavy

I must have made about 20 trips to Lowe's. I just kept spending a "little bit of money" each time. It of course kept adding up, and when I had to start buying the stones for the retaining wall, I knew I was going to have really commit to this being a project with real expenses. Those stones start to add up!

Loading up the stone wasn't a lot of fun either. I bought and moved the brick stones over four trips from Lowe's. Filling up the back end of the truck on each visit. I hate the sound concrete makes on metal and the bed of the truck. It's like fingernails on a chalkboard. And they get heavy when you begin hauling them around to the backside of the house all by yourself. But it was a good workout and a nice change from sitting at my computer all day.

And it just kept snowballing!

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Before

There is this giant flower box on the back patio itself. It's not exactly a show piece of the house.

I have been tempted to rip it out and make it in to an outdoor kitchen. But that would take money and I think given that the oven has only been on once in the almost two years since I have lived here, a second kitchen seems silly. Though it might help with the re-sell value. And cooking for and entertaining outside in Southern California is quite popular.

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There are sprinklers for it too, but they are on the outside of the box, aimed at the patio and the back door. Making a huge mess everytime it goes off, and not really hitting the flowerbed that well.
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This one was more challenging as I knew I had to drill about a one ince wide whole through about ten inches of brick and morter.

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It took about an hour, two masonry drill bits, and I actually burned out the drill itself when I got dirt in it.

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I finally managed to make a hole big enough to fit the pipe through, and it was simple enough to build the piping on the inside edge of the box, and place some quarter head sprinkler heads that wouldn't actually hit the patio.

Now I know why they opted to keep sprinklers out of the bed themselves. They were just lazy.
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Before


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After

Next I planted some flowers and drought tolerant plants and added some mulch.

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After
The mulch was free! In San Diego you can go to the city dump and get it from there green zone. Its not the best quality. Usually you have to load it up yourself, but a guy with a skoop came along and filled it up. Unfortunately I got a fair amount of dirt when he did it, but it saved me some back breaking labor, so I am not going to complain too loudly. It was possibly the only time I had help loading/unloading my truck.

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Heavy, dusty, and dirty.
I actually made five trips to the city dump during all these projects, and as I said, loading and unloading the truck each time by myself was quite a workout.

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Next I decided to tackle the side yard. I found this really cheap edging. $10 bucks for 40 feet I think. It's total crap. I should go back and get the green metal edging I like. But it's $8 for eight feet, and would have added up fast. I bought small baby plants, knowing full well the lantana, Mexican heather, and oleander will grow incredibly fast in a very short period of time. There is never a need to buy the more expensive mature ones. You just have to wait a couple weeks and you will have good sized plants.

My goal was to just dig out the grass that was running along the side of the house. It's never gone grow back, so the flower beds make sense. Nothing fancy. Less to mow.

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And somewhere along the way. I realized I was doing all this because. . .

You guessed it.

I was thinking these were things that needed to be fixed that would help sell the house.

When did I decide I was selling the house? I'm selling the house?

Uh, where I am going to live? Am I am moving back to Austin? Well, I guess so.

And that was how I decided to move back to Austin.

The yard looked good enough to put on the market.

Wellllll....except for the fence on the East side of the house. The one in full view of the kitchen. Now I was thinking the house wouldn't sell quickly with that fence there, and I may as well put it on a credit card, and hopefully the improvement will help sell the house faster and I might get my money out of it.

That's when I stopped taking pictures. I was just getting exhausted.

I called my friend Mark who had put up the fence on the West side of the house, and he agreed to give me a good deal if I did most of the labor.

It's about a hundred and twenty feet of fence, and that's a lot of fencing material to move by yourself. It also got hot here.

So I went to the home improvement stores another 5-8 times, each time filling up the back of the truck with fence boards, concrete, 2x4s and 4x4s. Never got any help from the staff, I did it all myself, unloading at my house and hauling it around back.

At this point I started feeling like my mother. She is known for doing huge projects all by herself, taking days and days, all the while doing little baby steps the entire time, patiently and methodically getting the project done.

I also demo'd the old fence, pulling up the old posts, and hauling it all to the curb, then eventually loading my truck up twice for a trip to the dump, and of course then unloading it all there. My leather gloves were my new best friends.

Mark stepped in and set the posts, got the cross boards up, and I helped him with all that. We got the fence boards up lickity split with his new power nailer thingy.

It took me five days to do the fence, two of those days Mark stepped in to direct me and take the lead on the actual fence building. I can't believe I didn't take any pictures of the process, but it really wore me out.

But the "After" pictures are quite nice!
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After

The new retaining wall looks spiffy and solid.
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After
The rounded corner on it isn't perfect, but it looks much better than the rickety fence.

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After

The new fence makes this space incredibly private. This is the "full sun" table and a little nude sunbathing area ~wink~

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After

Mark got fancy with the fence posts on this fence that you see from the street. He put up cross beams with extra 4x4s we had. They match the pergala that is on the front of the house. That one has flowering vines on it. I painted it the same color as the house trim and it really completes the look from the street. Now I just need to add some flowering vines to it.

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After

Even the view from the back patio has improved a ton.

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After

Overall, I must have spent two, possibly three weeks doing all these projects. Even if I dont sell the house, it sure is an improvement. Still needs more accessories like planters and decorative objects, but it's a much better base, looking maintained and new.

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Before

The front garden bed needed to be cleaned up too. Hey! You can see the old fence is this picture. The trees limbs needed to be trimmed back, and a few flowers to help make the front more welcoming.

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After

I also dug up some of the sprinklers and once again re-directed them from away the house. I had to replace some warped and rotting trim that the sprinklers had damaged.

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After
I used the free mulch and only bought two day lilies to finish the area off. The new fence just makes it all come together to look much fresher.
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After
So this is what the house looks like from the street. Hopefully it will have enough curb appeal to pull a buyer in!
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The kitchen is looking good. I changed a few things. It's not a gourmet kitchen, but it should appeal to a small family.
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I debated painting the walls back to neutral, but everyone I asked would practically scream at me, "No! Leave it!" So it is staying green and creamy. Despite me getting tired of seeing it in my videos and photos all the time.


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In the flurry of all this activity, I turned 41 years old. This is the first birthday that actually snuck up on me. But cake was had!

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I called Ben up on my birfaday and informed him he was taking me to diner. I'm still demanding after all these years!

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Ya know, I think Ben is really my only friend in San Diego. I have other friends I see occassionally, and I do enjoy seeing my old co-workers here, but for the most part, Ben is my main friend. I don't know if it's 'cuz I have insulated myself, I work too much, or I havent clicked with the people here, but I suspect it's a little bit of everything.

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So here I am on my 41st Birfaday.


Quick Austin Trip
I also took a short trip to Austin.

My parents met me down there and we looked at what the market was like for home buying but mostly trying to find studio space. I'm real interested in getting my studio out of my house and reclaiming some privacy.

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I met with some of the gang from BCI at Rudy's BBQ. Everyone was so enthusiastic about me moving back, it was really sweet and made me feel great.

We also spent a lovely time at Bill Evan's farm for his annual 4th of July party. It rained pretty hard the entire time, but a trip to the farm is always nice.

Bill found a few properties and my parents and I went out to look at some of them. I got some good ideas and now I know what to expect if my house sells. I have a plan of action!

We ate dinner at the Oasis on Sunday and about 4-5 hours later I was throwing up in my hotel room. Food poisoning! I missed a lunch with pals Amy and Linda, and on Monday I was due to fly back to San Diego. I tell ya, flying back was miserable, as I had only stopped hurling hours before. I was pretty green on the flight back.

When I got back I met with a realtor and he really liked the house, and I guess its goin' on the market.

I have no plans to find or figure out where I am gonna be in Austin until I sell here. I'm not in any hurry. If the house doesn't have any movement in 90 days I will just take it off the market for a couple months, then put up again. Very relaxed about the process. It's nice having the flexibility for once.


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Cybersocket CyberModel and Site Review
Cybersocket "discovered" my site. They did a nice review, I got a back page bio on one of my model's and I took out an advert (that printed pretty bad). As of this writing it's hitting the streets. I am hoping I will get a few members from it. Pick it up if are at a club or a gay friendly restaurant/store.

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The Photobook
I started pre-sales on the book. It should be here in July, but the report I have from the printers is it will reach customs in Long Beach August 5th -12th.

They are on the slow boat from overseas and so they are taking an epic journey across the big water. I hope they don't sink!

If you want to take pity on me and pre-order the book, the pre-sales will really help me out. I've had to front all the expense on them (all 5000 copies..you can do the math on how much it must have been!). I'm doing autographs on all the pre-sold books, so if that's a bonus for ya, hop on over and pre-order today!

In other big news about the book, after I had posted the pre-sale promo, one of the big distribution channels contacted me, and they are going to handle getting it in all the major e-tailers, gay bookstores, and even some of the more mainstream bookstores. Which is nice cuz they will take almost half that inventory, and I wont be making furniture out of boxes of my books!

So if you dont order directly from me, chances are pretty good your local bookstore, or online retailers will be carrying it.

Phew!

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Lots of great videos, cool pictures, and other naughty stuff!

If you haven't joined in a while, it's time to come back, cuz the site is lookin' fantastic!

And you don't want to miss Davis and Mitch!


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