Saturday, March 03, 2007

Construction Update

As I'm still recovering from the surgery and can't do air travel for another month or two — I've been spending most of my time hanging out in the Compound. The weather is ugly up here, and promises to remain so at least through March, so I don't have much occasion for or interest in stepping out (especially now that I'm trying to ramp down my friendship with Aldo: I can't even go to the grocery store without him cropping up). I'm becoming a bit of a homebody lately, and I figure it's high time I treated my readers to an update on the construction effort.

Work continues through the winter. These Mexican laborers moan and groan now and then about the cold weather. I throw them a bone now and then, offer them extended coffee breaks with hot apple cider and flautas. The little things mean a lot to these folks, and if the occasional refreshment will keep them from unionizing on me, it's money well-spent.

Six of the forty-one buildings on the site plan are "substantially complete," per the contract language. That may seem like minimal progress, but at least half of the planned structures are cabins, sheds, outposts — small-time buildings on the periphery of the estate, and they're slated to be the last bits built.

The Big Six currently in progress — (1) the Residence, (2) the Garage, (3) the Rec Center, (4) the Armory, (5) the Café, and (6) the Detention Facility — are really taking shape. We fast-tracked the Rec Center, since I've been stuck around the house. The home theater system is wired and fully-loaded, hot rocks are fired up in the steam room, and I've played a few hard-fought games of ping pong in the billiard room (the ping pong is just temporary: we're still waiting for the snooker table to be delivered).

The café kitchen is fully equipped — restaurant-quality, top-of-the-line appliances. I have an RFP out for restaurant services. Posted the ad in Vermont Restaurateurs Weekly. Six vendors come in next week with tasting menus, and I can't frickin' wait. No more frozen pizza turnovers for Phutatorius. Henceforward, it'll be fresh pizza turnovers.

The tunnel complex interconnecting the principal buildings is coming together, too. We had a cave-in just outside the Armory, but no one was seriously injured. I flew in a friend of mine with an MD to treat the half-dozen casualties (if you can even call them that). He set a few bones, rigged up some slings and splints, divvied up a six-pack of Bactine bottles and sent the workers home to recuperate. I've offered them double pay for the lost hours, and they've signed releases of liability and promised not to go tattling to OSHA. Not bad compensation, and when word got out about the deal a couple of the ne'er-do-wells on the work crew staged a few accidents of their own. They're now in the Detention Facility. Two weeks for each of them, sentence suspended until we finally got light and heat in the cells two days ago. (I didn't want to violate any of the Geneva Conventions.)

Everything seems to be on schedule, and I don't anticipate any serious cost overruns. For materials you always have to pay through the nose, but I'm starting to know people who know people around here. A lot of times they'll cut me a break on pricing, on account of how I'm a World-Renowned Internet Personality. Now and again I'll get frustrated with the pace of things, but all in all, a nice little Compound is taking shape up here.

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