Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Progress in Paradise...

Progress in Paradise...  The painters were here yesterday to finish up the last bits on the barn and to fix some minor paint issues on the house.  They didn't quite get done – the weather turned threatening (thunderstorms were all about) in the afternoon, so they packed up and went home.  They'll be back on the first day that looks like it will be clear, which might not be until next week.  The entire outside of the barn is now white, and most of the window and door trim is done.  My upstairs office is caulked and painted; it looks very nice.  All that's really left is a second coat of white on some of the repaired places on the house, and the trim on the upstairs barn windows.  We're so, so close to being done on the barn!

I worked on indoors electrical stuff yesterday.  We have guests arriving next Sunday (Jim and Michelle B.), and we want the spare bedroom to be ready for them.  I didn't quite finish this work, but I think I've just got three or four hours left on it.

The big excitement yesterday was the arrival of a whole bunch of new furniture.  Much of this we'd ordered months ago, and it's been accumulating in a warehouse for shipment in one lot (much less expensive that way).  The new arrivals: a coffee table and sofa table for the TV room, a pair of reclining overstuffed chairs for the dining room, and a matching set of end table, bookshelf/cabinet, and curio cabinet for the living room.  All of these beautiful pieces of furniture, exceeding my expectations.  It amazes me what one can buy over the Internet with excellent results!  The quality, craftsmanship, and beauty of these pieces is really quite remarkable – and they're unusual pieces, of a style we really like, and that we would never be able to find in the local furniture stores.  We're very pleased with our overall furniture purchases, and these latest ones were like icing on the cake.  We're now nearly finished with the furniture for the house.  We have a few smaller pieces left, but all the major pieces are done.

We did have one casualty in the shipment, though.  The sofa table for the TV room suffered some damage in shipment.  This was plainly the fault of the maker, who had done an atrocious job of packing it.  Each end of the sofa table had a horizontal piece, about 24" long, that served as the legs for the table.  One of these was ripped completely off and was missing – it was nowhere to be found in the truck.  The other was partially ripped off, and had been quite severely damaged.  On close inspection, the truck drivers and I arrived at a theory: we think the sofa table was packed such that its legs slipped down between the horizontal boards of the pallet, and were struck by the forklift as it moved the pallet about.  That's the bad news.  The good news?  The shipper and the vendor both instantly supported us on the issue.  We refused shipment on that one piece, and now it's headed back to its maker.  It will either be repaired and sent back to us, or they'll make us a new one.

Online shopping has really changed our lives, and entirely for the better.  In the course of the past year's work remodeling our new home and building the barn, we've purchased an amazing amount of goods entirely online.  Not quite everything, mind you – but when I did the numbers I discovered that it was about 82% of our purchases by dollars.  Partly that's because many of the big ticket items were purchased that way (all our appliances, all my woodworking equipment, etc.).  The number of purchases was also quite high – so much so that I have a (free, city-supplied) dumpster dedicated to cardboard, and we're on a first-name basis with our UPS, FedEx, and USPS representatives :)  Online shopping has some obvious advantages over brick-and-mortar shopping: price (especially when the sales tax is eliminated), convenience, and selection.  There are a couple others, though, that I suspect many people wouldn't think of right away. 

One is that there are many things that are unobtainable through local stores, or almost so.  Our recently purchased furniture is a good example of this, but I've encountered many others.  A small example: I've purchased a dozen or so quality hand tools that are made in Germany or Scandinavia – and that simply do not exist in any store in Utah. 

Another advantage of online: returns have proven to be far less of a hassle than they would in a local store.  I have a direct comparison here, on returns to Home Depot.  While it goes out of its way to make those returns easy, taking something back to Home Depot still inevitably takes quite a bit of time – there's almost always a long, slow line at the service desk.  Twice last year I simply skipped the return of small items, as it wasn't worth it to me to wait in that line.  The online returns, by contrast, could scarcely be more convenient.  Nearly always it involves a quick visit to Amazon's site, filling out a short, simple form – and the next day the UPS man shows up to pick it up.  Only a couple of times did I need to use online chat or phone, and even those experiences were pleasant, short, and convenient.  I'm at the point now where I try very hard to buy online if I can, and I go to the brick-and-mortar store only when buying online is impossible or impractical.

I fully expect to buy my next car online.  Once Bezos has his fleet of drones ready to go, I expect to start buying my groceries online.  I look forward to the day when the robot barber comes to my house to cut my hair :)

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