End of a long year

When I was a kid and my dad wanted me to clean my room, I’d say, I will, and he would say, Yeah, when? In 2010?

This was around 1962 and at that time 2010 seemed like at least a couple of lifetimes away. Now here it is, almost history. I have to say that for me, 2010 has been pretty much the worst business year I have known.

1995 was looking to get the honor but in the middle of that recession there was a huge fire in the Oakland hills that took out over 1,500 homes. It was a horrible experience for those who lived there but it did provide a lot of work once they set about rebuilding. There was another fire that provided work for me when the Tomales Bay fire came through Inverness and took out a house we had just finished after almost a year’s work. The owners decided to rebuild that one, too, so we got another year’s work out of it.

This time there have been no such windfalls. Not that I would wish that kind of misfortune on anyone! But there has simply been little to no activity around here for several years.

Our new governor is said to be packing a machete with which he plans to attack California’s overblown budget with a vengeance. We are anticipating more cuts in the government workforce and the university system and that is going to mean less money floating around for building and remodeling. So it is looking like another year of small projects and repair jobs that always seem to pop up just around the time the shop rent is due.

But Christmas is coming and the family is all doing well so I think I’ll just put off worrying about jobs for a week or two



  • Brian Burns says:

    Hello David,

    Consider teaching one on one.

    I make classical guitars, a notoriously difficult way to make a living. I support my guitar making habit by teaching guitar making to one person at a time. I’ve run my own wood working school, and taught for Shopsmith in the past, and I’ll never teach another class. But I delight in teaching individuals.

    I’ve been doing this for the past 5 years, and it works wonderfully well. There is a minimum of administration, and you end up with a really satisfied student because you have taught him exactly the amount of exactly what he wants to learn. All you need is a home made website and a workshop in good working order.

    You can get the details on my website: lessonsinlutherie.com


    Brian Burns

  • Mark Slafkes says:

    David, the Oakland hills fire was in 1991 and it was about 3,000 homes that were burned, including mine, and more than 20 people died in that fire. For many of the people who survived the fire and who didn’t lose irreplaceable personal items, the insurance proved to be good for them. That was my experience although it took almost exactly three years for the insurance company to finally pay what they had agreed to in the initial six months.
    For homeowners who decided to rebuild, that experience was often a nightmare. Many contractors were completely incompetent and thieves. Whomever you worked for probably got a fair deal and excellent workmanship. But I know people who got anything but a fair deal and/or excellent workmanship.

  • David DeCristoforo says:


    Sorry about the statistical errors and thanx for correcting them. You are also correct about the many “rip and run” outfits that flooded in once the rebuilding got underway. On the other side of the coin, there were many who ended up with far more luxurious homes than they started out with. The “victim” mentality ran rampant. There were many who felt that their loss entitled them to whatever they wanted regardless of whether or not they could actually afford it. It was a sad situation all around.


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