Turn Signal THEN Brake

FYI – Paranormal Activity = creepy movie!  Movies don’t scare me, this one at least weirded me out a little.

So I think I fixed my freezing pipe problem finally.  No pictures yet, I’ll get to that later.  In the meantime, what do you think?  I might keep it this way…

Odd…. the upload isn’t working any more.  Fixed it…. the Amazon Word Press plugin broke it.


Sons of Anarchy

I seriously just killed the entire first season of Sons of Anarchy in less than a week.  Partly because it’s a pretty good show, partly because there’s nothing else on my DVR, and partly because I’m flat broke and can’t go do anything else 😀

Blockbuster.com is seriously pissing me off.  I’m about to go to Netflix (or nothing)  My queue has been screwy for a month now – first they weren’t sending anything, then they sent two movies twice (one of which never showed up) and now it looks like they aren’t processing anything again.  And now I can’t do anything about it because I get an “Internal Server Error 500” when I try to edit my queue.  If I didn’t still get the 2 coupons a month good for a movie or a game, I would have canceled a long time ago.  As soon as they take that away, I will.  Besides, Netflix offers free streaming (have to pay BB for it) and I can stream to my PS3.

My kitchen remodel woes continue…. six months later.  The Blanco Cascade Super Single sink that I had put in now leaks.  From the little bit of looking around I’ve done, it’s happened before.  I thought these things were supposed to be tough as granite.  There’s a crack across the back that goes all the way through.  If I try to fill the sink with more than an inch of water it leaks.  These are not cheap sinks, they shouldn’t fail after 6 months.  They do offer a limited lifetime warranty… but they don’t cover labor.  They guys who originally put it in want $150 to swap them, and that’s if they don’t have to move the counters to do it.  And I don’t think they do the plumbing (which I can do, that’s no big deal) they only take the old sink out and put the new sink in.  Sigh.  To really cap everything off, the replacement sink showed up a few days ago… and it’s the wrong color.  They even asked for pictures of the existing sink, and still got it wrong.  The kitchen is really the only part of the whole thing that I hired someone to do parts of, and those parts have really been screwed up.

Ok… back to looking for a good hosted VMWare solution for DR.

Tank-less Water Heater

As part of my “home improvements” (in quotations because it was really more “home repairs”) I decided to replace my water heater.  The utility room was already ripped up and my old water heater was nearing the end of its life.  After putting this all back together, who wants to have a water heater rupture and ruin it all?  I decided with the tax credits and everything, this might be a good time to switch to a tank-less.  And let’s be honest, I’m a ‘gadget’ kinda guy anyway.

Quick side-rant/plug here:  I have a hard time believing the economy is as bad as everyone says.  When this disaster first hit, I called a lot of people to get estimates.  I had a feeling I might end up doing a lot of it myself, but I wanted to make sure the numbers the insurance guy was giving me were correct and if the price was good enough I’d save myself some time and money.  One drywall place I called… let’s just call them “Drywall Surgeon”  took about 4 days to show up to even look at the place.  He finally got there on a Friday I think it was, and said he’d have an estimate to me “…next week sometime”  When the estimate did finally show up, they wanted over $1,000 to do what ended up costing me maybe $100 (not counting beer)  Hell, one of the other drywall guys I called just never showed up.
The kitchen people I called were almost as bad.  Ok, so the one wasn’t all that bad… they were just a little slow, uninspired, and wanted to do all the work.  One moved really slow (they actually emailed me a good 2 and a half months after we had last spoke to ask if I had made a decision!) and I actually felt insulted by them on more than one occasion.  I really got the feeling this was too small of a job for them and I wasn’t worth their time.  The third guy got the job – he was the last one I called, the quickest to come out, the first one to have a design that I liked with numbers, and I probably learned more from him in 20 minutes than I had in the hours I spent talking with the others.  He was probably more expensive than the other two, but he was actually fine with me doing everything – actually, I think he preferred it.  The only reason he’s not getting a great review complete with name and number is because they made a pretty big ‘oops’ and I actually think they still might owe me some money 😀

One thing I knew I wasn’t going to do myself was some of the plumbing.  I can do some basic stuff, but when it involves water, electric, and gas… nuh-uh.  I had pretty much decided on a Rinnia tank-less water heater mainly because my dad went on and on about how great the one he put in a few years back was.  On top of that I was going to need a new water softener.  No sense destroying the fancy new water heater with hard water because the old POS softener I had couldn’t keep up.  And of course my motto towards the end of this whole project was “Why cheap-out now?”  One plumber (actually the one that did the ’emergency repair’ on the pipe) I couldn’t get to give me an estimate.  I’m pretty sure I asked for it 3 or 4 times and it took probably 2 weeks… if not more.  The guy from Ed’s Heating and Cooling though… boy was he on it.  Yes, I’m difficult to please – which means that when I say “Use this guy” it should actually carry some weight.  Use this guy.  Seriously, he was fantastic – I think he was out the day after I called to look at what I needed, sat down at my kitchen table and gave me a quote, explained all the tax credits, told me about a rebate my gas company was just about to start that no one really knew about yet, and even called me 2 or 3 times to see if I had any questions or had made a decision.  Not in a pushy way at all, just in a “I want your business” way.
The installation went perfect, even though they had to do some of it in the rain.  They cleaned up well after themselves, did a solid job, it even looks good, and he even (for no extra charge)  had one of the HVAC guys put in a small vent for that room in case it starts to freeze up again this Winter.  He went so far as to fill out and mail in the rebate form for me to make sure I got that $150.  Just wonderful all-around customer service… just when I thought such a thing no long existed.  Really, if you’re in this area and need plumbing work of any kind done, call him.

Ok… so the side rant really turned into most of the post.

So the point – last July my gas usage averaged 0.37CCF/Therms per day.  This year with the tank-less water heater it was 0.12.  It’s safe to say that neither year had the furnace running at all and hot water usage was probably similar… so that’s a pretty good indication.  That alone probably won’t pay back the extra installation cost over the life of the unit, but add in the tax credit and it probably comes close.  Not to mention I can take a 2 hour long shower (if I really wanted) and not run out of hot water :)  Oh, and the new softener is saving me a little too – it’s one of those ‘smart’ ones that only regens when it has to – my water is nice and soft all the time now and I’m probably using 1/4 of the salt.

Rockwell Sonicrafter

My dad picked one of these up a few weeks ago and we’ve used it for just about everything – cutting drywall, laminate, nails, tile grout.  It was awesome for undercutting the door jambs – put a bit of scrap flooring under the blade and go right in. Rockwell RK5101K Sonicrafter 37-Piece kit

Replacement blades that you’ll use the most of: Rockwell RW9122.3 Sonicrafter 1-3/8-Inch Universal End Cut Blade, 3-Piece
One of those will last you a good while.  One blade has done at least a dozen door jambs, lots of drywall, a couple nails (inadvertently) and a few plunge cuts through some pretty hard laminate.

How To Take Down a Wall

Yeah yeah, so I’m going WAY out of order here.  I’ll get to the cause of all this later.  In the meantime, here’s now you take down a wall:

1) Find friends that know what they’re doing.  Buy them beer.
2) Find a wall you don’t like

Kitchen Wall before

3) Take out drywall!  That part is fun.  We only took it all off one side so we’d have less finish work.

Kitchen Wall half gone

This is not a load bearing wall.  So in this case we could just slap up a new opening, we didn’t really have to support anything (although we kinda did here, just in case the ceiling wanted to ‘settle’ and crack)

4) Carefully remove drywall from the other side of the wall.  Again, we didn’t want to have to do twice the finish work, so just the opening was removed on the other side, not clear back to the next set of studs like we did on the side you see here.
5) Drywall, mud, sand, mud, sand, mud, sand, mud, sand

Kitchen Drywall up

Isn’t that wall paper awesome?  Yes, big flowers.  That’s not a border, that what the whole wall looks like (under the paint)

6)  Find friends that like to paint.  Buy them beer.

Kitchen Painted dining room

Six easy steps.  Nothing to it. :D  For your reference – don’t try to paint a dark red.  It’s…. difficult.  Took tinted primer and 4 coats to cover it.  The first two coats were light, probably could have done it in three, but it took awhile to learn the trick 😀

Floor & baseboards are next…. then it’s on to the kitchen.  Or maybe the bathrooms first.  Yeah, bathrooms first.  Stupid Home Depot – I registered for one of their tile ‘clinics’ last Saturday.  Show up and no employees even seem to know where the class is – bad sign.  So we finally find the place and stand around for 15 minutes until somebody says “I don’t think we have the manpower for the class today”  Ok, so why did I register?  You couldn’t make sure you had enough people or at least call/email and let me know you weren’t going to do it?  Jerks.  And at noon on a Saturday they had one poor girl trying to cover the whole paint department.  So asked some guy if he could help just grab the paint she needed and she’d mix/shake/whatever.  He came up with some lame excuse like “I don’t know where anything is here” and walked off.  Lazy shit.  I know where most of the crap is in that area, and I don’t even work there!  To top it all off, they only had their “U-Scan” lanes open… at noon on a Saturday!! Ever tried to swipe an 8′ 2×4 across a U-Scan?  Stupid Home Depot.

I’m Calling “BS” Trane!

Back in October I was forced to replace my furnace.  My insurance was awesome about the entire thing.  Love them.  They went after The Stupid Company’s insurance and must have done pretty well because I got 60% of my deductible back.  I got a newsletter from The Stupid Company.  It has the president’s name on it.  I’m guessing I can find an email address or phone number and have a little chat with him.  At the very least, I’d like a refund on the service I paid for.  Heh… that might just be fun.

Anyway… to my point.  The Trane salesman, as nice as he was, made some big promises.  He sold me on the  Trane XV80 – two-stage, variable speed fan, whizbang whatever.  I’m pretty sure he claimed that move to that one (I was only looking at the 80% ones anyway) would save me like 30% on my utility bills.  I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to save me that much, but 15% would be nice.  I can’t speak for the savings on the electric because I haven’t been paying much attention and that’s harder to call.  But the gas savings has been nonexistent.  Actually, I think it increased a little.
2/08 – CCFs: 99 – Heating Degree Days: 1194 – Days in Billing Cycle: 32
2/09 – CCFs: 102 – Heating Degree Days: 1190 – Days in Billing Cycle: 29
So the weather was about the same, and I actually used a little more gas in a couple less days.  Not complaining, it’s a perfectly fine system… just proof that companies throw around statistics and promises that don’t really mean anything.  Not that we’re surprised, right?

Still need to cover the $85 headlight change, new roaster… never put up the ‘after’ pictures of the landscaping.

Ignore this part… just trying something.  New Comfort Heating and Cooling New Paris