We have a general contractor now: we've accepted one of the bids on the job, and now construction proper has begun! Well, mostly it's still demolition, but it's more hardcore demolition than before, and it will be construction real soon now. This is a pretty major milestone!

Someone looking at the webcam asked, "hey, what are those guys digging? A mosh pit?"

Like I said in the last update, they're exposing the sewer and water lines. Since we're moving the bar and adding a bathroom, the old pipes (to the old bar) need to be capped off, and new drains and water pipes need to be installed in the new locations. What we've learned since last week is that apparently the sewer lines are not as the existing plans indicate (wow, what a surprise.) At some point in the last hundred years, several of the lines seem to have been abandoned and new lines run. So they also had to figure out which ones are still live, and where they are.

With all this digging, we get to see what's underneath the DNA. It's landfill, of course, like most of San Francisco, but I didn't know what "landfill" really meant: around here it means, "two or three feet of sand, and below that, the wreckage of whatever was standing here before the 1906 quake knocked it down." So the DNA building is built on top of the burned out rubble of whatever building was standing here before: the next four or more feet underneath the sand is full of old bricks and burned wood. The whole club smells like fire now, from the cinders that have been stirred up. It's kind of amazing that this stuff still smells like a fresh fire after being underground for ninety-four years.

We introduced our contractor to our accoustical engineer, so that they could talk about the materials being used for the front wall, the ceiling, the ventilation system, and so on.

Our T1 line has been installed, and the router has arrived. The other end of it, in our friend's cage at above.net, has not been hooked up yet, though. The telco folks just left us an RJ-45 jack at the phone box on the front wall, so I had to figure the pinouts on the damned thing so that I could bring the line back into the office. "How hard could that be?" I thought. Shoulda just paid them to do it... Well, I think I wired it up right (the carrier-detect light on the router comes on) but we won't know for sure until the other end goes somewhere.

It's cool when people who haven't been here for a week come in and say, "my god, what have you done to this place?" That means things are happening, I guess.

The new toilets are here, the new toilets are here!

Something that perhaps you didn't know about toilets: though porcelain seems like pretty sturdy stuff, in a contest between a conventional toilet, and a conventional beer bottle dropped from shoulder height, the toilet loses. That is, the toilet breaks, not the bottle. That means that clubs are either replacing their toilets all the time, or (like the old DNA) they have cracked toilets swaddled in duct tape. Well, we solved this problem by getting expensive toilets that are utterly indestructible: they're stainless steel prison toilets. Seriously: some of the line items on the feature list were "no crevices for hiding of contraband," and "suicide proof!"

The electricians have installed the transformer: this is the device that turns the three-phase "delta" configuration power that we're getting from the city into a "star" configuration where we can actually use all three of the legs, instead of just two (it converts the one otherwise-mostly-useless leg of 208V into 120V that things can actually run off of. Don't ask me, I still don't understand it.) Anyway, it's this big heavy impressive box full of coils that's now bolted to the wall above the door. They promise me it won't make too much noise, once it's actually plugged in.

We're still trying to decide how to treat the walls in the main room; option 1 is painting them some dark color, e.g., black; option 2, which is a bit more expensive, is sandblasting them back down to the bare concrete and clearcoating them (for graffiti-avoidance.) I think bare concrete would look pretty cool, but I'm worried that the walls will be too light colored: one thing I really don't like is when it's not possible to ever make a club be actually dark. If all the lights are down, and you can still clearly see all the walls, and still know exactly how big the room is, I think that's bad. I want to be able to color the walls with lights sometimes, but I also want to be able to make the place be dark when that's called for. I think that clearcoated concrete will be dark enough (it's the color of wet concrete) but I'm not totally sure yet.

I got email yesterday from the webmaster of the SF Museum saying "thanks for the link; can we have a few jars' worth of your pre-quake rubble for the museum?" How cool is that: now we're an actual archaeological dig!

Barry: Hello, DNA Lounge.
Some Guy: Hey, uh, are you guys open tonight?
Barry: Did you get this phone number by calling the 1409 number?
Some Guy: Yeah...
Barry: Then you heard the recording that says we're closed for remodeling.
Some Guy: Um... Yeah...
Barry: And so you didn't really need to talk to me, did you?
Some Guy: Um... (sheepishly) I guess not... Bye...

They've started filling in the huge holes in the floor, and will be pouring concrete soon. The carpenters are almost done reinforcing the underside of the balcony, and a huge pile of plywood has arrived, which will soon be the new floor surface upstairs, on the balcony and in the back room. Oh, also the enlargement of the walk-in refrigerator has begun: the back and side walls have been taken off of it, so that all that's left is the door. There are people in here all the time now, carrying things and hitting things and dragging ladders around. I don't know what half of them are doing! It sure seems busy, though.

We've been meeting with people who build and upholster benches and booths, for the seating upstairs; we also wandered around the city looking at chairs, tables, and stools. We haven't decided what we're getting yet. This stuff is expensive! It looks like it comes out to more than $100 per ass. That adds up when you're talking about having a bench running the length of a room.

The plan so far is to have benches along the walls in the back room, with tables and very low stools (ottomans, really) in front of them. On the balcony, there will be booths in the front two corners next to the bar; besides that, it will be low chairs/tables upstairs on the balcony, and tall stools/tables downstairs, so that we can clear them out on really crowded nights.

I've just cut short (meaning: run away from) the last in a series of really irritating conversations following the template of, "now why was it this guy is telling me to spend more money on this thing to replace one I already own that appears to work just fine? That explanation sounds like bullshit to me, give me one I believe." Then the music stops.

So I go out to the main room, and say to Barry, who's on the phone, "by the way, the T1 to above.net seems to be down." He says, "yeah, that's probably because the carpenter was tugging on it just now." I say, "huh," and wait for him to finish his phone call.

This is me trying to be calm. "So when you say tugging, what exactly do you mean by that?"

"I mean, he was up on the ladder yanking on the thing! Like it was in the way and he was trying to rip it out! My head just about exploded!"

This is me trying to be calm. "Huh. Well, you know, that means all that wire is shot. That's how Cat5 is: if you stretch it at all, it's not Cat5 any more. What makes it be Cat5 is the frequency of the windings inside."

So I say, "Hmmm, I guess this time we should put it in conduit, like" (I point) "this flexible metal stuff over here. Do we have more of that? Where do we get that? When you buy it, does it have a string inside or something so you can pull wire through? How's that work?" He doesn't know. Let's call our electrician and ask him.

Phil says, "Oh man, you don't want to string wires through conduit yourself -- that would take us hours, and we've done it before and have the right tools."

Barry hangs up and tells me this. And I say, "Ok, what am I supposed to do with that information? Because we still need it done... Can Phil or one of his guys come out and do it tonight?"

"I'll call back and ask." ... "He's not answering."

This is me trying to be calm. "Ok, uh, I'm going home now. Give me a call if I'm going to be spending all night standing on a ladder. Oh, by the way -- we don't have enough Cat5 left either."

Oh, and somewhere in that conversation, the carpenter came over and said, "uh, I think I just nicked those phone lines again. Sorry..."

Wow, I got more email because of that conduit story than any previous thing I've posted here. Apparently "how to get cable through conduit" is a geek hot-button of some kind. We just had the electrician do it. Our phones are fine again.

There's now a new floor in the upstairs back rooms (a new layer of plywood, soon to be covered with a thick epoxy paint) and they're starting on the balcony floor now. We had a new dj coffin built for the upstairs back room. It looks pretty cool, it's nice and compact. I think that by the end of the week, the final upstairs sound system should be installed, except that we'll probably have to take some of it down temporarily when the time comes to install the ductwork for the ventilation system.

And the really great news is that there's a new floor downstairs! Well, the first layer of it, anyway; the important detail is that the gaping holes and enormous piles of dirt are gone, and there is a lot of freshly-poured concrete. We weren't quite sure if this was happening today: there was some kind of screw-up with what was getting inspected when, and we lost our appointment with the concrete guys. So, we only got the concrete poured today because it rained today, meaning they were able to blow off another job of theirs. So the rain dance I did last night must have worked.

Someone already stepped in it -- this guy came walking in the front door, and *ploop*, sunk in halfway up his calf and lost his shoe. He was lucky he stepped in the shallow end: our contractor says that if he had stepped in the deep end, standard operating procedure is to wait until the bubbles stop, then just smooth it over.