Commitment to Health

pd_comparisonThis October will represent 5 years since I have taken control of my health thanks in part to Dr. John McDougall and Julie-Marie Christensen of Protective Diet. It’s amazing and powerful to see the foods we eat and their effect on our health. While I don’t want to measure my success solely in terms of weight loss, there were many benefits that went along with losing 44 pounds in 10 months. Many ailments and problems I had seemingly disappeared as a result to my commitment to health, results of my blood tests revealed my high cholesterol had decreased by 134 points! Looking in the mirror I saw a new, slimmer, healthier person looking back. It was a great feeling! Here’s a quick video, look for me at the 5:21 mark.

Along with these benefits, I took up running, to help supplement the weight training I had started. With a renewed vigor I started participated in Tough Mudder with co-workers, which tested my mental and physical abilities. I wanted to push  and learn what limits my body could endure, so I signed up for my first half marathon, which I finished in 1:58, followed by my first 50k (31.7 miles) a year later in 8:53. If that wasn’t enough I have run three 50 mile races the past 2 years, posting a PR earlier this year of 13:40! The results were proof to me that without taking control of my health none of this would have been possible.

It’s amazing to hear Julie speak about her passion that is Protective Diet, she inspires many she touches with her (and Jerry’s) positive message about health and the foods we eat. Reading and hearing testimonies from other ‘PD lifers’ should be proof that what Julie teaches works. While I was never skeptical, I was impressed with how I further cleaned up a diet that already had removed meats, dairy and oils. Seeing the many vibrant and smiling individuals on the Protective Diet Living page only helped to reinforce her message and my life changing decision.

Somewhere during my journey, over the past 4 years I hit a bump, which turned into a slide and suddenly I found myself out of control, falling back on poor decisions and bad habits. Through it all I stuck to the basics that got me here; no meat, dairy and oil while following a starch based diet as Dr. John McDougall promotes. Yet the gains I had achieved were slowly fading into the past. I attempted to remain positive, knowing that if I achieved these improvements before I could do it again! A list could be draw up, excuses made but honestly, what good would it serve? None, I lapsed and now it’s time to refocus and get my health back on track.

Today was ‘Day 1’ and I am sure MANY Protective Diet Living subscribers know what I am talking about. As the saying goes, “tomorrow is a new day…” That is what today was, a new day, one in which I watch Lesson #97 on Protective Diet to get me pointed in the right direction and take control of my health, so I can look and feel like I did a short time ago.

At no point do I feel as if I failed myself or others when it comes to this lifestyle, as I was able to stick to the basic principles, but Julie is able to take that change to the next level. That is where I want to return to. Being able to confidently say I love what I eat and how I feel. No one should ever feel as if they “can’t do this” or “won’t have success.” I know both of these statements will not hold me back as I have bigger plans in the future.

With so much going on in life, free time hasn’t been abundant, but the time I had could have been spent more wisely with regards to running, an activity I thoroughly enjoy. Earlier this year I had plans to add two more ultra marathons to my list. The first, Pioneer Spirit 50, a 50 mile race from Cool to Folsom with a portion of the trail familiar thanks in part to running the American River 50 Mile Endurance Run, twice. This was supposed to be a training run in August, for the Folsom Lake Ultra Trail 110k, a a 68.35 mile race around Folsom Reservoir. Both races are more difficult and challenging, mentally and physically. Right now I am not at my best health, but both these races are on my calendar for 2017.

If that’s not enough running, I plan on attempting my first 100 mile race in March next year at the Razorback Endurance. This will be the first time at this distance with a 36 hour cutoff and relatively no vertical component on the 2-mile loop. This is truly the biggest challenge I want to attempt, even if it’s only one time. In order to be successful I need to be mentally and physically prepared for this challenge.

The 21 meal menu is complete, ingredients purchased as I look forward to the next few weeks using the Guide to Optimal Health as a reference to regain my health, fitness and feel better about myself. Lots of support from many individuals who are following the same lifestyle, so I am not going at this alone. If I can master this, ANYONE can! Time to eat…


Here’s a quick video, look for me at the 5:21 mark.

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Complementary Carpet Cleaning

On June 17 I made the decision to email Dave Sanson, President of DeNova Homes, the developer behind the “lemon” we purchased in the new Emerson Ranch site, out in Oakley. To this point, we have been unhappy with the lack of attention to the DeNova Homes problems that have plagued ous since BEFORE we closed escrow. We kept hearing, “we will take care of it” or “the house isn’t done yet” or the best one, “it’s just aesthetics.” Funny, but nearly 120 days later, the house STILL isn’t fixed to an acceptable level, makes me wish we would have delayed the purchase if we knew we were going to experience so many post-purchase problems.. Consider it a hard lesson, learned.

While at the car wash last week I pulled up my email and was surprised to see a response from Lori Sanson, Executive Vice President of DeNova Homes. The letter read:

Dear Mr. Toumi and Ms. Davis,

Your email below was forwarded to me yesterday and I do wish to apologize for the delay in response as Dave had been out of town.

First, I want you to know how much we appreciate you taking the time to send your email.  You are absolutely correct that our mission includes a commitment to quality and integrity, and customer satisfaction is of utmost importance to us.  We work very hard to insure that our homeowners receive all pertinent information, that questions are answered and realistic expectations set before they go into contract and throughout the escrow period.

I have reviewed your file and do know that at the time of your purchase there were two different temporary sales people assisting Kelly; they would not and should not have answered detailed questions but certainly should have referred your questions to Kelly rather than just saying “I don’t know”.   Our brochure clearly states window coverings are an optional feature and the fact that sealing of grout is something a homeowner would do after move in is discussed in design center paperwork so these certainly are questions with readily available answers.  We apologize if you did not get these answers quickly from our staff.

I had a meeting today with our operations and warranty team and understand that your initial requests have been completed, but we have not been able to confirm scheduling with you to address your most recent concerns.  Please do understand, all homes are constructed with thousands of natural and manufactured materials by human hands, and therefore it is impossible for any home to be “perfect”, but I assure you we are here to take care of warranted items that may come up within your home.  Our team will be reaching out again and looks forward to scheduling with you as soon as you are available so that the items on your most current warranty request can be reviewed.

Finally, I would like to apologize if anyone on our team actually made the statement about not buying a custom home as that is not messaging we would ever endorse.  We treat every home we build, custom, production or otherwise, with the same attention and quality control.  I understand you are not pleased with some of the manufactured materials selected in your home, such as the master bath surround, but hope you understand that does not speak to the overall quality of the home.  We sincerely regret that your experience to date has not been positive and hope we can work together to find you happy and enjoying your home. I understand you are still in the process of getting settled, but once you are, we would be pleased to provide you with a complimentary carpet cleaning which Kevin stated you inquired about.  Again, thank you for taking the time to reach out.

Respectfully,
Lori Sanson
Executive Vice President
DeNova Homes, Inc.
www.denovahomes.com

My wife didn’t want to hear the response, as it was further upset and disappoint her further. If DeNova believe a “complementary carpet cleaning” is going to suffice, in an attempt to remedy the situation, they are strongly mistaken. We don’t need or require a carpet cleaning, as that won’t fix discolored carpet from a DeNova employee attempting to remove paint. It’s been like that since the first service request in May! That was just one of some 63 issues we have recorded and reported in less than 120 days.

While we weren’t looking for “perfect” in a new home, we had expectations that were not met by DeNova Homes during the sale. I believe many homeowners in our position would feel the same and expect many of the problems to be resolved. Yet it doesn’t appear DeNova is really committed to the customer the way we continue to circle back on existing issue.

bathtub_02I continue to point to our master bathtub as a representation of the entire house, to which she I am told, “I understand you are not pleased with some of the manufactured materials selected in your home, such as the master bath surround, but hope you understand that does not speak to the overall quality of the home.” Since it was our decision not to upgrade the engineered stone, we must accept the fact DeNova wont’ replace it, but what I am not happy with it the lack of quality and workmanship, which even to the untrained eye looks like shit! I don’t believe she has seen images of just how poor the bathtub walls look. This image was taken on February 6, a month before we were to close on Aspen-216. We were told it would be addressed before the sale was final.

bathtub_03My initial complaint was not seeing a model with “standard” options. Now I know why, people wouldn’t buy if they didn’t see a home with $200,000 in upgrades. The bathroom is a prime example, if I would have seen just how bad the master bathroom looked with engineered stone, I would have overpaid for tile. That didn’t happen. To repair the chip in the bathtub wall, it appears the chip was cut and sanded but based on the image, its still very poor work. Not sure, but I don’t think I would be the only one complaining about the quality of the work. The repair is unacceptable! The cuts aren’t even straight, not to mention an unsightly seam! I understand, “it is impossible for any home to be perfect” but this doesn’t come close to meeting our expectations.

bathtub_04To make matters worse the walls no longer match up, as the side wall with the chip is now shorter than and this was an acceptable fix? My point has been unchanged since before the close of escrow, there is no quality in the workmanship for the bathtub. I am not looking for “perfect” but something that resembles the quality she speaks of in her email. As for integrity, I believe her response is based on my emails, not the images I have sent in the past, but it’s hard to believe anyone; homeowner or developer would consider this acceptable work.

At this point nothing has been resolved, the last service request date we had was June 29, but DeNova Homes was a no-show. Yet it’s probably my responsibility to get back to them. At this point, I am sure they will continue to drag this dog and pony show out, I will get bored and forget about the problems in our new home. Not happening, next up a You Tube video showing all the problems in our home, which will be sent with an email to 7 On Your Side.

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Commitment to Quality and Integrity

qaJust because you haven’t see the #denovahomes or #dontbuydenova, let that not lull you into believing all is well and good at DeNova Homes Emerson Ranch out in Oakley. We are still very frustrated and disappointed with DeNova and their “commitment to quality and integrity” as their mission statement claims, falsely. Every day seems to bring another new problem, albeit some minor, but a problem is a problem and needs to addressed. So my thinking goes, DeNova seems to believe otherwise. We have had DeNova workers and contractors shuffling in and out to repair or replace items on our punch list, a list that has decreased in size, but still has outstanding issues, yet unresolved.

To date, now 90 days since closing on our new home I have sent 5 service requests, totaling 89 unacceptable items that we feel need to be addressed. These are all items that fall under “quality control,” which seems there was a lack of between final construction and our purchase of them home. The question now becomes, what do we, as new homeowners do? I have spoke to a few other owners on our street, some who have similar issues and a difficult time getting a hold of the warranty manager to take care of them. I have also received feedback on this site from others who feel the way we do. It seems there is underlying theme when it comes to “quality and integrity,” neither of which DeNova Homes seems to have.

I have taken it upon myself to compose an e-mail to Dave Sanson, owner of DeNova Homes to see what, if any, response we will get. Maybe I am overstepping a few individuals on the management team, but 60 days has expired since our purchase and maybe, sometime in the near future we might actually get to enjoy our home. All we want to see happen is have our problems resolved, at no cost to us. Nearly everything on our punch list are items that should never have made that list if our home were built with “quality and integrity.”

Aside from using #denovahomes and #dontbuydenova on anything I post on social media, I just want to warn other potential homeowners of just what we have gone through. Maybe we are the minority. Maybe the house is just a damn lemon. Regardless, bringing attention to potential issues could possible save another potential buyer to think twice before committing to DeNova Homes. Here’s a copy of the letter I sent to the CEO of DeNova Homes.

Mr. Sanson,
 
Your mission reads, “respected builder” and “commitment to quality and integrity” but it took less than 30 days after purchasing our DeNova home to regret our decision, as we have been faced with disappointment, frustration and anger since since closing on Aspen-216, March 17, located in Oakley. City Manager and college friend, Bryan Montgomery provided your email and suggested I contact you regarding our DeNova Homes buying experience.
 
Initially I was highly impressed when my wife told me she was considering a new home located at Emerson Ranch, the thought never crossed my mind to purchase new. The sales people were warm, welcoming and friendly, allowing us to view the models and answer all our questions. Viewing the models excited us with the prospect of getting in to an all new development during the early phase. We decided to write a $5000 check to hold an unfinished model. That’s where the excitement ended.
 
Problems began prior to the sale, after DeNova Homes got our commitment to buy and deposit check, as the sales people were not completely clear on what was included with the purchase, from window treatments to sealed grout. One of the sales people even said, “I’ve only been here 2 weeks, I don’t know the answer to that.” Some questions went unanswered, others were referred to the construction superintendent who’s response was, “don’t worry about it.” We were continuously reminded, as we walked through the different stages of construction that the home was not complete yet. Unfortunately, when it was completed the finishing was nothing short of unacceptable!
 
As of June 16, I have sent 5 service requests, my wife and I dealing with Warranty Manager, Kevin Maloney, who hasn’t been the most responsive individual when it comes to resolving our problems in a timely fashion. The first 4 service requests sent to DeNova listed 63 items! It was nearly 6 weeks later until a DeNova representative and crew arrived to work on our list. Nearly all the items on our list were finishing work, but what made it worse was the lack of quality in the craftsmanship in our new home. One needs to look no further than our master bathroom tub, as it represents the lack of quality through out the entire house. It became obvious the “quality and integrity” was not what we purchased. We were even told by DeNova, “you did not purchase a custom home.” Talk about demoralizing and frustrating when you spend $484,500 only to realize your problems aren’t going to be resolved.
 
I wish I could say I look forward to coming home after a day of work, but honestly the only thing I look forward to, is when we see a ‘SOLD’ sign in the front of this house. I guess we set our expectations too high and to this point they have not been met. We love Oakley, but don’t love the problems, frustration and disappointment we continue to face with DeNova Homes. Never again will I set foot in a DeNova Homes property or consider purchasing another new home. After our experience, I have nothing positive to say about what we have gone through and will let others know not to consider DeNova Homes, as they care about making the sale and not making a happy homeowner.
Please feel free to contact me regarding our problems and experience.
 
 
Stephen Toumi & Christal Davis
Homeowners, Aspen-216

 

I have no expectations at this point, I just want to vent my disappointment, frustration and anger and thankfully, this being America I can do that, even if it’s to the CEO of the company. Time will tell if we get a reply, to this letter or our 5th service request we submitted. Just remember, if you are considering purchasing a DeNova Homes property, please heed the #dontbuydenova and consider looking elsewhere.
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EURO Fantasy 2016

UEFA European Championship (EURO 2016) is just 3 days away, as national teams playing their final tune up games before France v Romania kick off on June 10. I’ve spent the better part of the last 10 days going over stats and news in order to put together my 15 player fantasy teams in McDonald’ Fantasy Football. What makes this challenge tough is the fact, many don’t watch some of these national players. Outside of the more popular leagues; La Liga, EPL, Serie A, Ligue 1, and the Bundesliga I don’t much thought into just how many leagues and great footballers there are worldwide.

Much like the World Cup, national teams play qualifiers during group play to fill the 24 slots who will  vie for the title of best team in Europe. Spain is the current champion, winning the last two competitions in 2008 and 2012, while they are the odds on favorite to hoist the cup, France has won their last two championships on their home soil; World Cup in 1998, the European Championship in 1984 and 2000. World Cup champions, Germany are a top contender as well, but defensively they have been a mess recently, followed by a string of defeats.

The challenge, field a 15 player (2 Goalkeepers,5 Defenders,5 Midfielders,3 Forwards) on a budget of €100 million. There are eight formations for your starting XI. I’ve selected a 3-4-3 formation for this tournament, in hopes the big named strikers fill the back of the nets with goals. This could potentially allow for the big money strikers to shine, but cause roster issues with your remaining budget. Wild cards and the ability to change your line ups after Gameday 1 and Gameday 2 allow some leeway for changes during the group stages.

Using the resources at my disposal, Fantasy Football Geek, Fantasy Football First, Fantasy Football Scout and FPL Bet, as well as current EURO news pieces, I have built, what I feel is a competitive squad ahead of the Friday kick off featuring the host nation, France taking on Romania.

euro_2016_v3

‘Vivo Azzurri’, my current squad for the upcoming championship is pictured above, but not the team I started with. The original line up featured: De Gea, Boateng, Dier, Djourou, Ramos, Alli, Fabergas, Gotze, Giroud, Lewandowski and Muller. It provided me a starting point, nothing more.

First idea I had, fill my squad with 3 players (max from each nation) from Spain, Germany and France, while filling in the remaining slots with budget players. While I didn’t quite get what I wanted in my first attempt, I felt I there were some question marks that I didn’t have answers for. Eric Dier (5.0) and Dele Alli (6.5) are both great buys, but I am not sold on England. The fact Alli is playing behind Rooney in the midfield made me hesitant on keeping him, yet 33% of managers still feel Alli’s place is warranted. Dier is one of those offensive minded defenders for Spurs, coming off a great season. Selected by just 9% of managers, I don’t feel England’s defense is very strong, outside of Joe Hart, which means Dier needs get forward in the attack. It was my hope to find defenders who can get forward, but also have the possibility of a clean sheet or two during the group stage.

The current squad is anchored by three strong midfielders, Alaba, DeBruyne and Pogba with Forsberg (5.5) as the budget starter and Joao Mario (6.0) on the bench. While there has been some unrest in the Belgium camp with KDB, I am keeping the door open for Mario Gotze (9.0), which would save me 1.0 to spend. Looking over the midfield options starting at 7.0 include, Fabergas, Matuidi, Grosicki, Modic and Kroos, as well as a slew of players at 6.5, including the aforementioned Alli. Decisions, decisions…

Defensively, I had thoughts of using De Gea or Neuer, both priced at 6.0, but felt Patricio of POR had better group stage games, allowing me to save 1.0 to use elsewhere on the pitch. Jordi Alba (7.0) is the most expensive defender, who can get forward but also put up clean sheets. Going forward I looked for another attacking defender, initially I had plans for Koscielny (vs ROU, ALB, SWI), but his tendency for yellow cards was a turn off, primarily used on set pieces and corners, I felt more confident in Ricardo Rodriguez at 6.0 (vs ALB, ROU, FRA). At 5.0, Dier reentered the starting XI for his ability to get forward, while Denayer gets the nod for Belgium, although their defense hasn’t been very strong during the qualifiers. Currently I have 5 defenders that all start for their respective nations.

Ah yes, strikers, the centerpiece of any fantasy squad, the transferring out of Lewandowski freed up 3.5 to spend, after downgrading to Mario Mandzukic (8.0), while Giroud and Muller go unchanged. For a moment, I considered looking for a budget forward at 6.0, but felt there was too much uncertainty over their starting status. Nolito was the only name I considered, solely based on the friendlies leading up to start of the tournament.

By potentially making this move, I would change my shift my formation from a 3-4-3 to a 3-5-2, using Giroud and Muller as my strikers and Alaba, DeBruyne, Pogba, Gotze and Forsberg as my starting midfield. Yet there comes a point in preparation where you start to talk yourself out of a strong starting XI, in search of a stronger squad. Currently, I am at that point, looking to improve on a squad before the whistle has blown for the first match, going off qualifiers and friendlies that don’t always tell the full story, full of inflated statistics, as many teams end up playing a “minnow” during qualifying.

So with 2 days remaining before I official set my lineup, I will continue to tweak my lineup, hoping to selection a strong starting XI that will provide me the best opportunity when on the pitch.

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#dontbuydenova: The Saga Continues

dontbuydenovaDeNova Homes followed through as scheduled, we had a three man crew at our home April 26 and 27 to start working on our punch list (catch up on the continuing sage, here). Many items on the list were paint related, but the overall finishing was very poor quality, appearing to be a rush job by some low bid contractor. Rumor has it that contractor was no longer painting homes in the Apsen development.

Now a month later and we have yet to see or hear back from Kevin, the warranty manager or DeNovaHomes on the rest of our list. This doesn’t come as a surprise, neighbors have similar complaints when I speak to them. Yes, I understand there are other developments, hopefully other owners who are as pissed off as we are when it comes to their new home. What we have seen appeared to a step in the right direction, not enough to give DeNova Homes kudos for making us happy to have purchased one of their homes.

While not the typical way to get things done, my wife has been texting Kevin regarding ongoing issues since last month. The next warranty date on the schedule is the 90 day warranty. While the remaining items on my list will be carried over, I don’t expect much movement from DeNova to resolve any of them. Some of the current list items addressed, such as paint on the carpet remain, worse we now have discolored spots from someone attempting to clean the carpet. *shakes head*

I don’t fear what I visually see, poor finishing, poor paint, hinges and door hardware with paint over them, a used front door repainted to match our home. It’s what I can’t see that worries me. So far we have ran into two ceiling fans that were wired incorrectly and installed improperly. Had the fans been wired correctly, the probability of the fans falling from the ceiling were high, so said an electrician who properly installed and wired the units nearly a month after we moved in. The other electrical issue was an outlet wired backwards in the closet, which housed the smart panel.

This past Friday, I walked outside to grab a craft beer from the Coyote 21″ outdoor refrigerator. Upon opening the unit, warm water pooled on the bottom and all the beer was warm, the fridge had stopped working. Frustrated, I swore up a storm at not having cold beer, but more so because this is just another problem we now must face. The temporary solution, as I wait for an answer from DeNova, which I highly doubt will come Tuesday, was to move the beer into a ice filled cooler.

mini_fridgeUpon closer inspection, after moving the fridge out from under the counter, the installation looked sketchy at best. What appeared out of place was an orange 3-outlet adapter plugged into the outlet. This was how I found the refrigerator powered, connected to this adapter.

Out of curiosity, I consulted the owner’s manual and went through the installation and troubleshooting guide.  Reading through the installation two items stood out under ‘WARNING’: “The refrigerator should not be located next to ovens, grills or other sources of high heat. The refrigerator must be installed with all electrical, water and drain connections in accordance with state and local codes. A standard electrical supply (115 V AC only, 60 Hz), properly grounded in accordance with the National Electrical Code and local codes and ordinances is required.”

While I am not an electrician, I consulted a respected friend who is and asked him, “Is this to code?” His response wasn’t surprising, “No. That wire should not be ran in the same hole as that pipe, the Romex is unprotected below 7 feet, this should have a box in the wall with sheet rock. Otherwise the installation should have been done in MC (metal clad cable) but still the wire needs it’s own hole.” This just emphasizes that fact that I fear living in the home because of what I cannot see.

I continued on and started troubleshooting. Just as the image illustrates, I found the unit still plugged in, so I ruled that out. I confirmed the BBQ lit using the electric starter, as both are plugged into the same outlet. I reset the circuit breaker, tripping out both breakers labelled ‘kitchen’ but to no avail, the refrigerator remained off. Finally, I did confirm the temperature control was set not set to the ‘OFF’ position.

Since there has been absolutely no movement on behalf of DeNova, I am ready to escalate our ongoing problems. The City of Oakley will be contacted on Tuesday regarding the possibility of a code violation by DeNova. After speaking to a high school friend of mine, who just happens to be an attorney, he will be receiving a copy of the purchase contract to see what legal avenues we could potentially pursue. I have started writing up a rough draft to Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side to see if the media would like to see get a piece of the action and expose DeNova for the poor quality control. Finally an e-mail to the owner of DeNova Homes, not that I expect any response or reaction, but more to prove DeNova fails when it comes to their “commitment to quality and integrity.”

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