16 Jul 2010

Choosing a Roofer

Submitted by Paul Brown

Due to a set of unfortunate circumstances, Holly's and my new house has a defective roof that is neither covered by insurance nor a manufacturer's warranty nor even a class action settlement involving the shingles that we most likely have. This month we've been working on getting a few estimates from roofing contractors to replace the roof and add ventilation to the attic to bring it at least up to the current code requirements. We ended up with three estimates from companies that I thought looked reputable from their Better Business Bureau report and that had been in business for many years. After negotiating a somewhat lower price from one company, we had one estimate that was significantly higher than the other two, and two estimates that were within about 10% of each other.

The lower bid was from a company that sounded very good and very professional: Shirts on, no smoking, no loud music. The estimator/salesman had explained that their crews are sub-contracted due to the excessive cost of maintaining them as employees. The sales pitch sounded great, and everything seemed to be just what a homeowner would want. It is probably a peculiarity of my personality that I actually didn't really like that. I guess I would rather feel like someone is being straight with me than feel like someone is trying to sell me something. Holly, on the other hand, had a much better impression, and she generally has better perception of character than I do.

The next bid was from a company whose estimator (not much of a salesman, really) who really seemed to know a lot about the roofing process and who was concerned to do things right. He had previously declined to make any estimate at all for just the ventilation part of the work, before Holly and I had decided that we would do the whole roof, because he didn't think that the work would be able to hold up due to the deteriorated condition of the roof in general. Furthermore, he explained that their crews are company employees and that they have all been with the company for quite some time—upwards of 13 years if I recall correctly.

Well, after getting all the numbers in, Holly and I discussed the various pros and cons and risks of the different companies. I think we both changed our minds at least once. Finally it was resolved when we asked ourselves, "What would be the good-neighbor thing to do?" In other words, what's not just best for us and our bottom line, but what would be best for our community?

Since the price difference was not tremendous, we decided that we would rather support the company that takes on the responsibility and cost to actually hire their crews as employees with all the benefits that that entails. Once we thought of it that way, for both Holly and I, it just felt right to choose the second company. Perhaps my thinking on this issue is naïve and idealistic, but I do hope that, by God's grace, our decision will work out well both for us and for our community.

Possibly related post: The Gleaning Principle

10 Jul 2010

Well, it seems that my blog is going back to what it was like when I first started posting, before I even knew it was a "blog" and not just a "website". Updates are few and far between and seem to just hit the front-page items of my life.

The biggest news of late is that Holly and I went to her anatomy ultrasound for our little bean yesterday. The ultrasound tech confirmed that everything looks good and that we are having a LITTLE GIRL! We both had a hunch that it was a boy, mainly because Holly has had so much morning sickness, but we were wrong. I don't think that we had much preference one way or the other, so although it was initially a surprise, now I think we're already getting used to knowing that it is a baby girl in Holly's belly.

Holly released the results of the baby name survey that she did a while back and revealed the names that we had chosen for a boy or for a girl. Now that we know that we're having a girl, we can start calling "bean" by her name: Claire. Claire's first pictures are up in my photo gallery now.

Ultrasound of Claire, 19 weeks

22 May 2010

Regeneration Sermon Archive

Submitted by Paul Brown

Since I am tight on server storage space, the Regeneration sermon archive that I hosted while that ministry was active has been removed from my site. I have many fond memories of those Sunday evening services and of the messages that I received and that I prepared. I will keep all the mp3 files and can make them available for download upon request or send a CD with the mp3 files. If you are interested feel free to contact me.

5 May 2010

Tree Advice? (Updated)

Submitted by Paul Brown

(This was originally posted in May, and I am now updating it with some additional photos from the end of the summer)

Holly and I have a tree in our backyard that I am a bit worried about. It is still fairly small, just a bit taller than I am, I think. I'm not sure exactly what kind of tree it is, and if you know your trees, you'll probably be able to tell better than I by looking at a photo of the tree.

I am concerned about the tree because I have noticed two cracks in the bark near the base of the tree, one more or less on the east side and one more or less on the west side. I took a couple of photographs of the larger crack on the east side of the tree:

   

Since we just moved into the house, I don't know when the tree was planted or how it has been taken care of. From what I have been able to find on the internet, cracks in tree bark are commonly caused by freeze/thaw cycles during the winter. This past winter was quite bad in Omaha, so that seems like a reasonable explanation. But it has also been rather windy this week, and I see that poor little tree getting blown in the wind and wonder if the cracks might also be caused by the tree bending too much in the wind. I have read that staking a tree against wind is not generally in the tree's best interest; the stess of wind blowing on the tree helps it develop the trunk strength that it needs to withstand the wind.

Does anyone have any knowledgeable advice about what may be going on with the tree and what I can do to help it? Or is the tree even worth saving?

UPDATE:
Here are a few photos from early September. The wounds at the base of the tree look like they are attempting to fill in. The tree doesn't show much, if any, growth at the top.

   

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