No Thank You

I saw a trailer this morning on tv for a ‘new’ movie coming out – Let Me In – and before it gets to the title I’m thinking “I’ve seen this… it was a really good movie.” But then there were a few of the trademark (hollywood) horror-film strobe-cut edits thrown in. You know the ones: a convenient lightning bolt or passing car illuminates something scary for a second then the camera cuts away. And it’s not out yet.

Turns out I have seen this movie, but I saw the original. It was called Let the Right One In
Why can’t Hollywood come up with an idea of their own? Let the Right One In was a fantastic movie, why remake it? And it’s only 2 years old!!

They’ve already proven they can’t be trusted. (I know, you’re thinking “that last one wasn’t a remake!” but yes it was)

I haven’t even seen this summer’s Karate Kid or A-Team yet. I’m almost afraid I’ll cry if I do. Come up with something original!

Bad news kids, remakes/reboots (I hate that term) are already in the works for Highlander, Planet of the Apes, (again?!?) and even The Wizard of Oz. Is nothing sacred?

Speaking of Done…

I’ve been buying stuff from for… well, I think since they started. The oldest order I can find in my account is from about 5 years ago (it was an 80GB hard drive 😀 ) but I must have switched accounts or they don’t keep stuff farther back. Almost 2 months ago I ordered an air conditioner for my back room project. Some might think it weird to get something like that online, but the price was good and I didn’t have to go get it. Remember, I’m the guy that ordered a generator from when the power was out for a week here.

The unit shows up in a normal-ish amount of time, but sits in the garage for a few days waiting to be put in. The day comes to install it, and the grill is cracked all the way down. Well poo. No problem, contact them and they arrange a pickup and will send me a new one. They probably could have just sent a new grill, but that seem to be too much work for whoever was handling this.

It took almost 3 weeks to get a replacement.

They never told me when it would be picked up. The only way I knew is because UPS stuck one of their notes on the door saying they missed me. So of course they waited for it to get back and they inspected it or whatever they do, and they sent another. Number 2 shows up and the box is pretty much already destroyed. The driver noted the damage. I should have had him take it back right then. I opened it and sure enough, cracked grill, sides were bent in, it was in worse shape than the first. It mainly looked cosmetic, so I actually emailed their customer support and said I’d consider keeping it if worked and they made that worth my gamble. They offered a whopping $75 partial refund. I even countered that, assuming they would rather be done with it than spend another god-knows how much in shipping. I said that wasn’t really enough, give me more, extend the warranty, or come get it. They scheduled another pickup. That pickup took awhile to happen, but I will give them credit for this one thing – they sent a replacement out as soon as they verified that one was on its way back.

Third time’s the charm? Now it’s been almost 2 months since the original order. I’ve had to be home waiting on UPS for each drop off/pick-up. UPS shows up earlier this week. I see the driver get out a large brown box… “Oh good, they double boxed this one!” I think because the other 2 were the white boxes that the AC comes in. “Huh… he’s just carrying that up here on his own? That’s like 100 pounds! Oh… wait… why does the box say Whirlpool?”
It was an over-the-range microwave. Sigh.
Again an email to – just cancel it, I’m done, I found it cheaper somewhere else anyway (which is true, I can get it from amazon for $50 less and free 2 day shipping) I wanted a full refund and the interest on my $600 for the last 2 months if they ever expected to keep me as a customer. I knew they wouldn’t do it, but I at least thought I’d ask. I got another generic “Sorry for any inconvenience, we’ve processed your request” email. I would have loved to gotten someone on the phone, maybe they could have at least faked a little sincerity or admitted this was pathetic customer service. They already spent probably more than the AC was worth in shipping and pickups, don’t you think they’d at least try to keep the sale? Or at the very least the customer? I’m a difficult customer to lose and I’ve been shopping there probably since they started… not to mention the people I sent there over the years to shop. They managed to do it though.

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 😀 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.

TARP – Cont.

Ok so I have a couple credit cards – Capital One sent me notice on the two I have with them that they are raising my rate.  And not just a little.  One went from 11.9 APR to 17.9, the other went from like 7 to 16.something.  Chase did it too… up to like 17.2.  They all come with a “…. if you do not agree to the new terms call this number” blah blah blah… I called Capital One for one of them saying I didn’t agree, fully expecting someone to come on the line asking what they could do to keep my business.  Nope. Automated number, I put in my account and it said “Thank you, your card will be deactivated on May 15.
Wow…. not even trying eh?  It wouldn’t have taken much to keep me as a customer.  But no.  Whatever.

That’s it for right now.  I do have a story to tell of the house – flooded house.  I have pictures and stuff to go with it, so that will be awhile.  I am eternally grateful for all the friends and family I have that help me with this crap.  My dad has been awesome – I don’t know what I’d do without him.  All my friends… Evan, Bert, Andrew – you guys are the best.  While I’m thanking people, I would like to publicly thank Kelley for making my flower beds look awesome last year and I hope she does it again 😛

It is kinda neat having the friends/family that I have – it doesn’t matter if their dad works at a green house; they’ve happened to install gutters / doors / flooring before; if they have tools and know-how to borrow because they’ve completely remodeled a 100 year old house.  It’s an odd feeling to have to decline an offer of help because you already have too many people.  I’m overwhelmed, indebted, and blessed.
The guys that pick up my recycling think I’m an alcoholic though, because most of my friends/family work for beer.


TARP is obviously working.  I applied for a HELOC a few weeks ago, here was JP Morgan Chase’s response:

Thank you for your recent application for a Home Equity account. We regret that we are unable to grant your request for credit at this time. This decision is in no way a reflection of your credit – it is simply indicative of the current housing market and the decreasing equity in most homes.


First – they’re right, it’s not my credit.  My credit is spectacular.  Secondly, I wasn’t asking for much at all – pay off a few higher interest bills and have some left over for a new dishwasher and water heater.  I have a credit card issued by them that has four times the amount available that I was asking for.

So let’s recap:  A few years back they started lending to anyone and everyone with barely a second glance at their credit score.  Surprise, this didn’t work out so well for them.  I’m simplifying, but then people got creative with these bad debts and sold them as not so bad… that with some bad calls by Greenspan and his boys and we’re at today.  You could argue that a good part of our problem started with the banks lowering their standards.
So because they were greedy back then, now I can’t get a loan from them.  So they’re losing even more money because they’re not going to get that interest I would have paid them.  Brilliant.  And I end up giving someone else more in interest and can’t buy a new dishwasher and water heater which is probably costing a few more people their job… which means they won’t be buying anything extra for Christmas this year.  And TARP was supposed to ‘free up’ some money so banks would start lending again.  Obviously not working.  Screw the banks – “They made their bed…” comes to mind.  Fire them… fire them all.  Give me the money – I’ll create jobs and lend it.  I’d lend it for next to nothing, but you’d better have a damn good credit score.

The subprime primer

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

Problem With The World Today

Actual conversation at Blockbuster

“Yeah, I’m exchanging the mailed one for this one… the mailed one is broken.  I didn’t know if you guys had to mark it or something”

“How did it get broken?”

“Uhh… I opened it today and it was cracked from the center to the edge.  I’m not sure how it happened”

“Umm… ok… yeah.. whatever.  I don’t know what to do with it.  I don’t care.  I take that back, they don’t pay me enough to care”

Now I’ve been places where it’s pretty obvious that people don’t give a shit about their job (the Quizno’s downtown is a great example) but I don’t think I’ve had a conversation with an employee where they verbally state it.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had one of those jobs before – but I at least tried to hide that fact to non-coworkers.


No one has built a better mouse trap.
I have a mouse running around my house.  I picked up the “Tomcat” traps at Kroger because it was all they had.  They tried to get fancy with the big yellow cheese-looking trigger… then tell you to bait it with peanut butter.  The mouse has cleaned the thing off 3 or 4 times now without it triggering.  Back to the old reliable ones (if I can find them anywhere!)

That’s not the topic of this post though.

Spammers really are relentless.  And stupid.  I have a dormant domain name registered (I think it cost me $1) just to play around with some stuff.  I put the PHPBB forum software on there when I first set everything up.  I got busy with other stuff and really never did anything with it.  I looked this morning and had a couple thousand posts, all from spammers.  All of them.  If you put a couple hundred telemarketers in a room together, you think they’d try to sell each other stuff?  I’m assuming they scripted a registration ‘bot’ somehow… but I thought that software had a CAPTCHA in the registration, but maybe not.

That’s not really the point of this post either.

Cold.  My house is cold, and has been since Saturday.  It was almost really hot on Saturday.
I was getting ready to head out Saturday evening and decided to kick the furnace one while I got ready and ate dinner.  About 2 minutes after I turned it on, all my smoke detectors went off.  I ran to the kitchen thinking it was just my dinner burning, but on the way there saw smoke coming out of a register and smelled burning plastic.  It only took a second to make the connection and run for the breakers to kill the furnace.
I went to check the furnace to make sure nothing was still smoldering.  The outside of the unit had some discolored paint, and that actually made the access panel difficult to get off.  In the meantime, I called the company that had just been out a week before to do the fall check-up.
One of their techs came and looked around inside the furnace.  At this point, I had already gotten the access panel off and could see the damage – burnt wires, melted plastic, melted aluminum, and just general destruction.  He apologized a couple of times, but stopped short of admitting it was their fault.  He said they’d have to order a couple of parts, but they would replace them all at no charge to me.

Sunday gave me some time to stew over the whole thing.  Replace a couple of parts?!  I’ve got burning plastic smell in my house and duct work and I don’t think a couple of parts are going to save this thing.  Even if they do, what else got damaged that is going to fail in 4 months?

Monday comes and they finally call in the afternoon to say they had to order some parts, they should be in Tuesday or Wednesday.  WTF?  I know UPS does overnight delivery.  I also asked about just replacing the whole thing so it doesn’t turn into a “well that didn’t fix it, we’ll order more parts.  Be another day or two.  Well that didn’t fix it, need a few more parts, be another day or two.”  I also wanted to know if they could clean my ducts out.  I called another HVAC company to come give me a quote, called my homeowners insurance to see what my policy might cover, and posted some pictures and questions on a HVAC forum.  Pretty much every response on the HVAC forum was along the lines of “No one in their right mind would put that thing back in service.”  A number of people were baffled that the company arguably responsible for starting it (and almost burning my entire house down) just wanted to replace parts… and might be a few days.  The sales guy from the ‘new’ company was out later that day… obviously he said it should be replaced.

The adjuster for my homeowners showed up Tuesday and looked at.  I have to say I’m very pleased with Farmer’s Insurance.  Fast, friendly, helpful… everything you’d hope for in your insurance company.  He even asked if I thought the company that serviced it was responsible.  I said it sure seems like a big coincidence if not.  The first time I use it since they came to service it, and it burns up after 2 minutes of use.  I’ll let him fight that fight if he wants.  But man was he nice… asked if I needed them to rent me some space heaters even!  After he left, I called The Stupid Company and got a “We haven’t seen the parts yet”  I asked about replacing the whole thing, and what they found out about cleaning the ducts out.  Would you believe I got “Well you talked to so-and-so… she’s out today… I can have her call you tomorrow” ….. WTF?!?  A few minutes later someone else from there called – I’m not sure if it was the owner or just someone in-charge.  He thinks it can be fixed, the smell will go away when they clean the stuff out of the furnace, ducts probably don’t need cleaned… they’ll fire it up and figure it out then.  Seriously.  There’s melted plastic flung all over the inside of the unit, so every time I run my furnace my house will smell like that.  He doesn’t think so, that compartment doesn’t get hot.  Umm… hello?  It’s a furnace, the entire thing at least gets warm when it’s being used.  No thank you.  He finally offers to turn it into their insurance “… but they probably won’t replace the whole thing, might take awhile, and we’ll have to put a stop on the parts until that all gets sorted out”  “Go ahead and do that”  At this point I’ve already decided that I’m replacing the whole thing – we’ll figure out later if I pay for it, they do, or my insurance covers it.  And I’m sure as hell not letting them back in my house after screwing the thing up in the first place and the complete lack of concern or anything resembling customer service on their part.  I give you people $300 a year for the last number of years to make sure something like this doesn’t happen, then you probably cause it?!  Any decent company should be falling over themselves trying to make everything right!  That conversation pretty much sealed it.  I actually know a couple of other people who use them – they won’t after this if I can help it.  I’ll get the cost of a new furnace out of them, even if I have to do it by costing them sales.

Wednesday evening someone from The Stupid Company’s insurance calls.  By now, I’ve already schedule one of the guys I talked to on Monday to install the new furnace.  His price was decent and a number of people I talked to, including a professional home inspector, had nothing but good things to say about them and Trane.  Insurance guy wants to send someone out to look at it.
“You have until Friday morning… it’s being replaced then”
“Oh.  So you’re having it replaced?”
“Yes… numerous HVAC professionals I’ve talked to and a home inspector I trust all said it needs replaced and duct work needs cleaned”
“I assuming you’re not having the same company replace it?”
“You assume correctly.”
“Ummm… ok… yeah… I’ll let you know tomorrow how we want to proceed.”
Guess their insurance sucks too – they don’t have ‘replacement’ insurance, so they only pay off what the damaged stuff was actually worth, prorated by age.  Furnace was only 6 years old, but that’s probably 1/2 maybe 1/3 of its expected life.  At this point I’m just being shitty… I really just wanted them to have to make a claim.  I think my insurance is going to take care of most of it for me, and maybe go after theirs to get some of their money back.  Still… 6 cold nights, stress, missed time from work… just a crappy situation and The Stupid Company doesn’t seem to care.  Hell, on Monday Logan’s said “You want it installed tomorrow?”  So I could have a whole new furnace installed in less time than it takes Stupid Company to get a few parts?!