Last weekend was Computer Hell Weekend. There was a power failure late saturday night, and it lasted longer than my UPS does, so the club was offline sunday morning. This is because the machine that runs our firewall has a lame BIOS that doesn't have a setting for "boot up when power is restored after a power failure." So all the other machines come up, but not the firewall, so they can't talk to anything. So I came in to turn that machine on, and found that our mail server had also crapped out: when the power went out, it somehow managed to trash its partition table (which I didn't realize was even possible), so I had to repartition and reinstall the whole machine from scratch; then re-make all of the modifications I had done, to get the various services running. So that took, like, 12 hours.

Then on tuesday, Jonathan came over with a new motherboard for the firewall machine, which had a decent BIOS on it so that it would boot up again in the future. We swapped out the mobo, but kept the same disk, CPU, and memory. Oops, it wouldn't boot. Turns out the memory was too slow. Ok, we put in new memory. Now OpenBSD refuses to boot off of the disk. Great. So then we did a clean install of OpenBSD, which worked. Six hours later, I had my various changes installed again, and we were back to where we were before, but finally, with a machine that comes back on after a power outage.

I hate computers.

We've also just about finished running ethernet for the kiosks. Well, the wiring has been in for a while, but we've been running around putting the connectors and face-plates on. Mostly Jonathan, since he's better at making cables than I am.

We also got more RAM for the kiosks, since 64M just isn't enough to run modern versions of Netscape. They have 128M in them now, and seem to be working very nicely.

However, we still need to figure out where exactly we want to put them, and how the hell we're going to secure them to the wall, without it costing an additional fortune.

Are any of you out there reading this eager metalworkers willing to volunteer some time to build brackets for about a dozen of these things? I think it's pretty straightforward work for someone with metalworking skill, but that's not me, and the steel guys are busy finishing up more critical things at the club, like the fence to protect the electrical panels from prying hands. So I can't get any time from them for a few weeks. And anyway, they're pretty pricey...

Last week: the stairs are finally done! So we'll be having our (hopefully) final building inspection some time this week. (After the phone tag to find out how to schedule the appointment, it was 3:02PM: the bureaucrat who answered the phone informed us that no appointments are taken after 3PM.)

We had our final plumbing and electrical inspections on thursday, but there are still a few minor things the inspectors want us to change, so they'll be coming back. While they were here, we asked them if they could just come back the next day, since the work would be done by then. "You'll have to call my office in the morning and schedule an appointment."

There are still a zillion little details left, like, the locks on the cages around the bars and coat-check don't work yet, there's no shelf in the ticket booth, our cash registers haven't arrived...

Also I'm still trying to figure out how to make the rust treatment on the railings look decent. I thought it looked great in the picture I took back in February, but since then it's gone through several changes, for reasons I don't particularly understand, and now it looks more like a solid orange color, with occasional runny streaks, which is just awful. So I'm playing around with wire brushes and sanders and things like that, in an attempt to get the cool textures back. I don't understand what went wrong.

But, I think the only thing standing in the way of us being legally allowed to operate, and thus able to set an opening date, and thus able to hire staff, is having (and passing) our building inspection.

After the building inspection, the noise abatement officer wants to come back out and look at the place again, as I explained last month, to make sure that in the last three weeks we didn't decide to knock down the front wall and install an outdoor patio.

Then, it's a paperwork dance until we get our validated police permits. But how do we actually get them? We haven't figured that out. "We'll send them to you." "Can we come down and pay any fees in person and pick them up?" Barry asked, anticipating the possibility of weeks of bureaucratic delays. "Well let's just cross that bridge when we come to it." "But it's pretty important that..." "Well let's just cross that bridge when we come to it."

I think I know how that's going to go.

In other worrisome news, the so-called "live-work" lofts across the street had an open house this weekend. I didn't go, but Barry says they're very nice inside. They're asking $700,000. So if you're of a mind to drop 3/4ths of a million dollars on an 1,100 square foot studio apartment, and would consider it a benefit to have a nightclub across the street, rather than being the kind of sheltered suburban weenie who would move in and then try and cause us trouble, do give it a look, won't you?

We're getting a "nightclub reopening soon" banner printed to hang on the (currently-featureless) face of the building, since the chance that a realtor will be honest with prospective buyers about what we are, on their quiet sunday afternoon tour, is slim to none.

Sign fall down, go boom.

The gale-force winds that whip up and down 11th Street tore the grommets out of the sign, and then as it whacked into the building, the wood plank we had attached to the bottom to secure it snapped in half too. So we're sending it back to the folks who made it and having them put bigger grommets in it, but I'm not really sure how we're going to hang it. We don't have any mount points in the wall, so we had been just suspending it from two points from the roof, but that's clearly not enough. We could have some bolts sunk into the wall, or have the sign mounted to plywood, or any number of things, but since this sign is temporary anyway, we don't really want to spend too much time or money on it... Why is everything always so complicated?

We had our fire inspection, and like all inspectors, he found some things he wanted us to change, like add more exit signs. The rule is that no matter where you're standing in the club, you're supposed to be able to see an exit sign and an arrow; we had missed a few spots. So he has to come back and sign off (ha ha) before we can get our building final.

We got our "resale license", which is some extra business license you need to have on top of everything else in order to sell anything. And it's free: except, they told us as we signed the forms, for the $12,000 security deposit. It's completely unclear to me what this is securing, and of course, no bureaucrat can tell you. I assume it's the "paying the taxman" tax, or something along those lines. Smash the State.

The steel guys have finished the fence in front of the electrical panels. It looks really cool, and the mesh they used for it looks superficially similar to the rat-wire we have on top of the wall insulation, so the entry-way came out looking very consistent.

We've still been fooling around with the railing rust treatment. Pretty much everywhere we touched it when we were experimenting with a wire wheel on a drill, we screwed it up, so now we're gonna have to buff that part of the railing (the section across from the balcony bar) back down to raw steel, and rust it again, in order to make it look like the rest of the railing.

This week we also got some more painting done (the walls in the backstage area, and some doorframes.)

Hey, you! Yeah, you, the 15-year-old knit-cap gutterpunk peeing in my doorway! Knock it off!

In addition to the usual puddles of urine we tend to find in our doorways in the morning, a few days ago we found a new gift sitting there: a human turd. (I will spare you the photographic evidence. You're welcome.) We're pretty sure it's human, because it's up on a curb next to the door, and dogs tend not to squat in corners like that. Well, we haven't had to step over anyone sleeping in the doorway since the turd showed up, so I guess it's a turd with a silver lining.

We have passed our final fire and building inspections, and have gotten the full battery of signatures on our job card. This means that... wait for it...


But don't go cracking open the champagne yet: there's still the small matter of the police permits. As far as I understand it, what needs to happen at this point is this:

  • The police type up a form;
  • I sign that form and give it back to them;
  • They give that piece of paper to the Tax Collector;
  • We give a check to the Tax Collector;
  • We pick up our permits.

Past experience being my guide, I estimate that this process will take three weeks, and involve at least two go-rounds of "come back a week from today."

And sadly, until we have that paperwork in our hands, and can read for ourselves what exactly it says, we won't know for sure that it's correct, and that we don't have to dive back into the bureaucratic quagmire to fix it. And so, until we have the final copy, we aren't yet able to set our opening date, and thus can't commit to anyone about employment start-dates, or book events.

So what all this means is that we are maybe only three weeks away from being able to set our opening date. Which is a lot closer than we've been so far!

But please realize that once we set our opening date, it won't be "tomorrow." We'll need quite a few weeks of lead-time in order to hire and train our staff, and arrange our opening with an appropriate splash.

This is the sound of my head exploding.

Barry: Guess what? We're not done.
jwz: What?
Barry: We haven't passed Building Final until we've gotten our Special Inspections!
jwz: What are Special Inspections?
Barry: That's what I said!

Well, somehow nobody managed to mention the need for these inspections to us until after we thought we were done. They include:

    [x] Concrete
    [x] Bolts Installed in Concrete
    [x] Reinforcing Steel & Prestressing Tendons
    [x] Welding
    [x] Structural Masonry
    [x] Holddowns
    [x] Anchors Installed in Existing Concrete or Masonry

So our structural engineer came back out and signed off on the things he could: yes, they did this correctly; that too; that too; they didn't do that at all; nor that. This was all stuff that he had inspected before, as we did it, but it isn't officially inspected until his signature is on the card. But the concrete stuff is not his domain, so now we need to get someone else out here to sign off on that, and if we can't get that person out here before wednesday (which means tuesday, since monday is a holiday) it costs us another full week with the cops.

And then to cap off a fun day, Barry and I spent hours going through the final set of invoices, trying to weed out the remaining lies. For example: our plumber tried to bill us for 8 hours labor for replacing six faucets. Barry and I timed it, and we, non-plumbers with inappropriate tools, were able to remove and re-install one of those faucets in about three minutes.