A Fan

Nov. 24th, 2012 09:48 pm
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[I'm experimenting with copying a post from Google Plus to Dreamwidth/LiveJournal. Pasting the text and photo from G+ into the Dreamwidth Rich Text editor seems to work, although I had to get the public link for the photo. For some reason the LJ-to-Facebook connection doesn't seem to be working.]

My dad came over today. We've been having a couple of electrical problems, and he was trained in electronics by the army. Plus he's handy, which I, unfortunately, am not. Or not very.

The first problem was the ceiling light in the den. It kept flickering and making buzzing noises. He took things apart and figured out that the problem was that the contact in the base of the socket was depressed; it wasn't making proper contact. He pried it up, and now the light works perfectly. I'll have to look into getting a shade for it.

The second problem was the ceiling fan in Sebastian's room, which is next to the den. The light tended to go on and off randomly, and the ceiling fan rarely worked; instead, it hummed and made a burning electrical smell.

So we took it down. Dad examined and tested the wiring, and it seemed fine. But the motor was burned out on the ceiling fan. We went over to Lowe's. Teri and I wanted to get a fan much like the one he'd had, but Sebastian insisted on a short-bladed and admittedly cooler-looking fan, an allen+roth. The salesman said the fan would be virtually imperceptible, but eventually we gave in.

When we got home and opened the box, we got worried. It was complicated; the estimated assembly time was two hours! Dad and I spent a lot of time trying to figure it out. I don't know about Dad, but I'm pretty sure that my shoulders will ache for days! And toward the end we were working in darkness, since the circuit breaker for that lamp also covers the whole room.

But we got it put together and mounted. Dad did the wiring, which is good because wiring makes me nervous. It was great when the light went on! And when we turned on the fan, go figure: the breeze was far stronger than our old fan's had been. It blew papers right off Sebastian's desk.

It feels good to get something like that done!



Water

Feb. 27th, 2011 03:33 pm
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Our water has been coming in dark brown today. There's no smell, but what appears to be silt is settling in the toilet.

Maybe they're cleaning out the pipes, which has happened before - although it has never made the water quite as brown as this. Or, it's possible that a water line has burst under our foundation. In which case, we're probably in a lot of trouble.

The water - ah, I just spoke to someone at the Water Department. There's a huge fire nearby, another old mill complex burning down. So it's not our pipes after all. What a relief!

Lights Out

Sep. 21st, 2010 10:34 pm
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A couple of days ago the town shut off all the street lights down the middle of our street. The two ends of the street are still lit, but the middle portion is not. I assume it's a cost-saving measure.

It's pretty dark out there. I have to wonder if this increases the chances that we'll be burgled (which isn't something I stay up nights worrying about, by the way).

There's a full moon tonight. It made a ghostly glow on the driveway when I took out the trash. Kind of pretty...it almost looked like snow on the ground. Normally the street light washes out the moonlight.

I wonder if the lights will ever go back on again?
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I don't want that incredibly annoying encounter in WoW tonight to be the end of my day, so:

Teri complained yesterday that the living room AC smelled bad. She didn't think I could do anything about it. So while she was out, I did some research.

Vaccuumed and cleaned with a toothbrush, vinegar & water; it's amazing how much gunk & fur was in there! Then a little Lysol. Now it has no odor and is much colder. Felt good to have accomplished something!

I also recorded some lullabies for Sebatian. I'll spare you having to listen to those, though. ;D

Posted via LjBeetle
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I give up. The DuPont faucet filter had the same problems that all the other ones did; roughly one out of four filters worked properly, and the rest lasted a week or less.

Our water is NOT hard or particularly bad. So my best guess is that hot water is occasionally feeding into the cold water, and thereby ruining the filters.

So this weekend we bought a Brita dispenser, one of the big ones with a tap in the front, and put it in the refrigerator. We'll see how it works out. I'm going to fill it by filling up a pitcher and then pouring that water into the dispenser; that way if there's a surge of hot water, it will never reach the filter (the heat being moderated by being mixed with all the water in the pitcher first). Also, the filter itself will be cooler because it's in the refrigerator!

Unfortunately the Brita filter apparently doesn't filter anywhere near as much stuff as the DuPont did, but we can't afford to buy new filters every week.
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Plants were growing out of the gutters on the side of the roof that faces the back yard. So recently, shortly after Sebastian got his cast removed, I got out the ladder and climbed up onto the roof to clean them out.

Sebastian really wanted to come up with me. Teri didn't want him to. But he's getting big, and it's time for him to be able to be a little more adventurous; so I prevailed on her to let him do it.

He loved it up on the roof. He helped a bit, carrying things around. The gutters are, unfortunately, still not hung right; water pools in the middle, and they were filled with decayed-leaf glop and sprouting tree shoots. One of them was close to three feet high! I scooped out all the stuff and dumped it onto the side yard where the grass hasn't been growing well. That part of the yard needs fertilizer badly.

When it came time for Sebastian to climb down the roof, he got pretty nervous. In fact he got scared. But he made it down safely...and so did I.

I wish I'd thought to have Teri video or photograph us up there!
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Petro left a voicemail for us yesterday. They want us to call them to discuss our account. I hope they're not going to try to hit us for a cancellation fee, because our contract expired.

Incidentally, when we cancelled Teri told me to ask them to send us a hard copy confirmation that our account had been cancelled. The operator got annoyed and said "Your account is cancelled. I just cancelled it."

I wonder what they're going to say? I'm not going to be calling them, of course. As far as I'm concerned, I'm done with them. If they want to talk to me, they can call when I'm in. But they're not going to get any more money out of me.

Petro screwed us once, and stole a thousand dollars from us. That's it, as far as I'm concerned.
bobquasit: (Default)
We signed up with a new heating oil provider and dumped Petro. Boy did they fight hard to keep us from canceling! By the end, she was pretty mad at me - although I was very polite.
bobquasit: (Default)
We're going to Pennsylvania tomorrow, and won't be back until Sunday. I'll be reading The Hobbit to Sebastian in the car, thus the title of this post.

Tomorrow morning will be busy, though; before we go, we're going to sign up with a new heating-oil provider. Petro screwed us over, and now I'm dumping them. I think we'll save money in the process, too! I researched things rather carefully.

Mousehunt

Jul. 28th, 2009 11:00 pm
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All three cats kept clustering together around different spots near the baseboard heaters tonight. They were all very excited and agitated. I suspected a mouse.

It wasn't long before I had no doubt: it had to be a mouse, or some similar small creature. They were too excited for anything else.

Teri and Sebastian were both already asleep, by the way.

Later I heard a wild high-pitched squeaking, so high that I thought it might be a bat rather than a mouse. But it was a mouse, a good-sized plump one, and Baby was chasing it (followed closely by Widget). It dashed into one of Teri's slippers. I had a quick glimpse; it may have been injured and had definitely been roughed up, but I saw no sign of a critical injury. So I gently but quickly clapped her other slipper on top of the opening to keep the mouse from getting away, took it outside, and tossed it onto our front lawn. I should have taken it further away, but I was a little excited myself.

I hope it doesn't come back to our house...but with three cats here who have already shown their ability as mousers, that could only be classified as suicide.

Oil

Jul. 23rd, 2009 12:24 pm
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I need to find us a new heating oil company. As I've mentioned before, Petro screwed us royally a few months ago. Now it's time for a new contract, and I won't go with them again. Petro sucks.

We bought our furnace through them, and it has a lifetime warranty. I'm guessing that we'll need to arrange maintainance through our new oil company, but repairs should be covered by Petro. That complicates things.

Anyway, I've started Googling for heating oil, and I've talked to one company. The problem is that the terms are kind of confusing. Has anyone else had to deal with this sort of thing? Anyone know a good oil company that delivers in northern Rhode Island?

Fence

Apr. 26th, 2009 09:38 pm
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We'd been told that the fence and porch would be done by Saturday. We left the stain - a 5-gallon bucket of it that cost us around $150 - on the back porch before we left. We'd paid most of the fee up front, including $100 in cash during a surprise late-evening visit because of an "emergency".

When we got home from the vacation, a twelve-foot section of the more than 60-foot length had been stained...and the rest hasn't been touched. Neither has the porch been done. There's stain all over the grass under the fence (he said he'd put something down to protect the grass), and there are two large areas (3-foot circles) of stain in the grass out in the middle of our back yard. The pickets that were removed from the fence to be repaired have not been repaired or replaced. That includes a missing picket in the stained part of the fence.

We do know that the fence hadn't been touched at all as of 10 AM Sunday morning, so this was apparently a hit-and-run partial staining.

Teri is pissed off. I'm counseling a certain amount of patience...but even I am not at all happy about this.

Oh, and that five-gallon bucket of stain on the back porch? The lid wasn't sealed - it was just lying loosely on top. I tried to fasten it down properly.

All in all, this doesn't look good.
bobquasit: (Default)
Haven't felt like writing here lately.

Everyone's basically fine.

Teri's mother recommended a guy/company to strip, repair, and repaint our fence and front porch for $350+paint. We're doing it.

Sebastian has been making us play "baseball" with him in the back yard lately. He hit the ball and it smashed me in the face. Fortunately it was a beachball. No damage.

I've been thinking about political vs. religious discussion:
http://askville.amazon.com/Christians-atheists-fear-feel-people-side-fence/AnswerViewer.do?requestId=49722175

Really tired. Need to get onto a better sleeping schedule - need to REALLY BADLY.

Cleaning

Apr. 16th, 2009 11:01 pm
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More and more brown spots have been showing up on our bathroom ceiling, particularly over the bathtub. For some reason we didn't do anything about them...for months. We assumed we'd have to strip and repaint the ceiling.

But just for the hell of it, I took a swipe at the ceiling with a tissue. And the spots came right off. Five minutes of work with a sanitizing wipe, and the whole ceiling looks positively beautiful.
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One of our shower curtains was getting pretty grungy. It might have been mold, or soap scum...I don't know. It was a translucent gray-black stain that covered four or five square feet.

It was a decent shower curtain, a $3.99 one instead of one of those cheap $0.99 ones from the dollar store, so I decided to see if it was cleanable. To tell you the truth, money wasn't a factor; I just felt like giving it a try, and since the vinyl was on the heavier side, I thought it might survive the experiment.

First try: Formula 409 and paper towels.

I took the curtain down and spread it on the bathroom floor (it was dry, of course). I squirted it with 409, waited 30 seconds, and then went over it vigorously with paper towels. Result: dirty paper towels, and some reduction in the grime, but the curtain still looked pretty dirty.

Second try: dishwashing detergent and scotch-brite.

I put a few drops of dishwashing detergent on the curtain, wet an old piece of scotch-brite, and scrubbed fairly gently with a circular motion. Result: the grime came off like magic, instantly, with no visible damage to the curtain. The whole thing took less than two minutes. I put it up again, rinsed it off in the shower, and it has been fine for days.

I also found that dishwashing detergent works great for cleaning the toilet, the bathroom sink, and the tub. It just takes a few drops, too!

Jeeze. How do I end up making posts like this?

Weekend

Jan. 11th, 2009 10:19 pm
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It was an interesting one.

On Saturday we had to get up on the early side, because there was a Cub Scout event at the local high school: a Belt Loop Bonanza, in which each kid took four one-hour classes and will receive a belt loop award for each one. It wasn't just Sebastian's troop, either; there were hundreds of Cub Scouts there with their parents, from lots of Massachusetts and Rhode Island troops.

It felt weird to be in a high school. I haven't been in one in ages...it must have been twenty-six years! It was also strange because we had to bring our lunches and eat in the school cafeteria. I don't know...the whole experience was odd, but fun.

Sebastian took a great Wildlife Conservation course that was taught by a women who works at Roger Williams Zoo, an introduction to chess (we played a game together, since he didn't have another kid to play against - he did surprisingly well), and then had lunch. After that he took a course in marbles, and finally a course in Geology that was taught by a guy who really knew his stuff - he seemed like the kind of teacher you really wouldn't want to piss off, but he was very authoritative.

Sebastian was quite good throughout all of the classes. I noticed that some kids, though, were just awful. They wouldn't stop talking, wouldn't pay attention, or constantly interrupted the teachers with pointless statements ("I like jello!") or long comments about the topic which were usually completely wrong. In some cases their parents tried to shush them, but hardly ever effectively. Those kids had real issues, I would say.

Sebastian did get a bit rambunctious at the end, after the classes were over; there was a closing ceremony where he basically ran around and didn't listen to me, but it was over quickly. Then Teri picked us up and we all went up to my parents' place in Brookline to celebrate a belated Christmas. I should explain: we alternate Thanksgiving and Christmas between my family and Teri's each year, and this year we spent Christmas with Teri's family. So we spend a belated Christmas with my family later. We were worried, though, because the weather report said that we'd be getting a bad storm that night. As always, no two reports agreed on when the storm would start or how much snow would fall. It could be anywhere from 4 PM to midnight, and the volume could be anywhere from six to ten inches.

I brought up a yellow bundt cake that I'd baked late the night before, not thinking of the get-together but just for the hell of it. We had roast beef, twice-baked potatoes, gravy, and Yorkshire pudding...I have to tell you, I love Yorkshire pudding with gravy. I only get it about once a year, when my mother makes it, and I really need to learn how to make it myself.

We left at about 8 PM. The snow was starting to come down. It was pretty mild in Brookline, but as we approached the I95/Route 1 crossover, it was getting pretty thick and scary. So Teri decided to stick to Route 1. It's a slower route, less dangerous but big enough to get good coverage from snowplows. It was a long, slow, somewhat scary ride home, because when we left Route 1 we were on some relatively unplowed and quiet back roads. But we made it home safely, woke Sebastian up, and put him to bed. It took a lot of reading to put him to sleep again; at least three chapters of The Black Stallion.

Sunday Teri woke me up and asked me to show her how to start the new snowblower. I got up (slowly), got dressed, and went out to get it. Our shed doors were frozen shut, but with some hard work I managed to get them open. The snowblower started up right away with no trouble, and I used it to clear the five or six inches of snow from our back walk, driveway, and front sidewalk. It only took about ten minutes or so. What a wonderful convenience!

Sunday was a relatively quiet day for us. We did some grocery shopping. Sebastian had been scheduled for a birthday party for a girl in his class, but it was postponed due to the weather. Teri and Sebastian played their DS's quite a bit, and I played them when they took breaks. I also spent a lot of time reading Larry Niven's Footfall, a good large SF invasion book of the massive disaster variety. Not top-notch Niven, but very good.

In the evening, Sebastian took a shower. A little later, we discovered that he'd shut the bathroom door behind him...and somehow, the bolt had engaged. This was a real problem, not least because I discovered this when I needed to use the bathroom.

It was also a mystery. How on earth had the bolt been thrown? It's an old door and a very simple mechanism. There's a latch for the door, and a light bolt that you can throw. Unfortunately, this meant that we were in trouble. There was no key and no keyhole. The hinges were on the other side of the door. The lone bathroom window couldn't be opened from outside, and breaking it would be both dangerous and expensive. Even if I unscrewed and dismounted the door handle, there would be no hole large enough to allow us to do anything at all. I tried using magnets to jiggle the bolt, but didn't have a magnet strong enough to do anything through the thickness of the door. I was able to slide a piece of cardboard between the door and the frame, but all I could do was locate the bolt; I couldn't open it, because there was no way to apply left-to-right pressure of any sort. The doorframe pretty much blocked me from any action. I tried lots of jiggling, but that didn't help at all.

So I threw my body against the bathroom door a couple of times, and on the second time I bashed the door open. We were lucky; the damage was relatively slight. The bolt and latch were badly bent (I neglected to fasten the latch open while bashing the door - to be honest, I was pretty pissed off by that point - I really needed to get in there). A very small splinter of wood was knocked off part of the door. But I was able to bend the latch and bolt back enough to make them work smoothly again, and the door itself doesn't look all that much worse.

Still, Sebastian has been strictly instructed never to close the bathroom door behind him again. I still can't figure out how the bolt got thrown - it's completely inaccessible from outside the bathroom!

Handy

Oct. 28th, 2008 11:56 am
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Two drawers broke in the house a few days ago. One was in the bathroom, and the other was in my bureau. They broke in similar ways; the nails in a corner pulled loose.

Now, I'm not handy. My father is very handy, but I'm not. I've often wished that I was. But I think I've slowly been getting better at being handy over the years.

So I took some Elmer's glue, small nails, a rubber mallet, and a hammer. I fixed both drawers quite nicely; by the time I was done, they were as solid and strong as the day that they were first made. Then a few days later it occurred to me that I should check the other drawers.

It's a good thing I did! Two of the drawers in my old bureau were pulling apart in the exact same way. The nails weren't all the way out of their holes, but they were pulled nearly 1/2 inch loose.

So I put some glue along the joins and hammered the drawers together with the mallet and hammer. Now everything slides in and out smoothly, and the whole thing is nice and solid. And I saved myself a lot of work, because if I'd waited until the nails actually came out I couldn't have re-used them - and the wood on that bureau is very dense, so it's very hard to hammer a new nail in a new hole.

It's funny. It feels really good to do that sort of thing! There's something about making repairs on furniture and the house, on solid things, that just gives me a feeling of accomplishment.

I really should do it more often.
bobquasit: (Default)
About six weeks ago I emailed Pur about some bad water filters we'd bought from them. It took them a while to respond, but when they did it was pretty annoying.

Basically, they told me that the problem must be my fault. Our water must be bad. This was pur bullshit, as far as I'm concerned; our water is fine. We've used other filter systems, and have never had an issue with water quality before.

The filters were supposed to be good for 2 months or 100 gallons, and they were becoming totally useless after a week or less, and in under 10 gallons. There's just no way that Pur could convince me that our water (which is city water) is that bad.

They sent us a couple of buy one get one free coupons for filters, but my plan was to change filtration systems as soon as practical.

But.

I had a suspicion.

Somehow, somewhere in the back of my head there was a connection being made. I've been watering our lawn a lot lately, as I've mentioned before. And on some level I noticed that the filters died after I used them while the lawn sprinkler was going.

I don't know why that is. The outside faucet is located pretty much opposite the kitchen sink faucet, the one with the filter. So maybe (and I'm guessing here) there are surges of hot water through the kitchen faucet when the outdoor faucet is running? That would explain the destroyed filters.

I've been very careful not to use the filter while watering the lawn, and so far the filter has laster for several weeks - and it's still working well. I don't know what the connection is, but it does seem that there IS a connection...so the problem just might be solved.

Roof

May. 30th, 2008 11:38 pm
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It's late, I'm tired, here's another post.

The roofers arrived this morning - five or six of them. They worked quickly, and the back half of the roof is done. So is the porch roof.

We got some bad news, but not disastrous news. We have paperwork from the previous owner claiming that the roof had been completely stripped and replaced ten years ago. We now know that that was a lie. The wood under the shingles was quite old; it wasn't even plywood! It was boards, and all of them were rotten.



As you can see, they were able to pull up chunks of some of the boards by hand.

So rather than $5,000.00, we were looking at more like $7,400.00. The news could have been worse; at least there was no need to remove the old wood (which would have upped the price a good bit). They put new plywood over the old boards. This seemed odd to me, I must admit. Wouldn't the old rotted wood spread the rot to the new plywood? The roofers assured me that it wouldn't. My parents were visiting, and my father told me that this was true. I don't understand it, but if my father says it, I know it's true.

They put plywood over the whole half-roof (saving the other side of the roof for tomorrow, weather permitting). Then we got a little more bad news: the porch had been covered with a slightly unusual extra-thick plywood. Another $75.

The last bit of bad news (so far) is that with the new raised height of the roof the chimney needs to be re-flashed, and that cost another $400; apparently lead is very expensive. So we're looking at around $7,955.00. Here's hoping it doesn't go higher! But unless the beams or joists are bad on the other side of the roof - and they were fine everywhere else so far - the cost shouldn't go any higher.

Here they are putting the new shingles on:



The shingles on the main roof looked very good. I don't know if you can see it, but they're gray and have a pleasing complex look. But the shingles on the porch roof were different. They were long rolls, the full width of the roof, and they were much lighter than the shingles on the main roof. It turns out that they came from different manufacturers. Here are samples of both, with the roll-shingle on top of the main roof (architectural) ones:



The result looks simply weird. Teri didn't like it at all, and I was rather dubious myself. Here's how it looks now that this side (including the porch) are finished:



Weird, huh? The porch roof kind of blends with the siding. Teri hates it. What do you think? Does it look cheap or bad?

A few other notes: it was weird being inside the house while the men were on the roof. The thunder of footsteps was deafening. Sarah (our cat) disappeared for the day. And when I picked up a cup by my nightstand this evening, it was covered with dust.

We'll see what happens tomorrow. The forecasters were talking about thunderstorms, but they haven't had a great record for accuracy lately. If the weather's no good, the roofers will come back on Monday.
bobquasit: (Default)
Our toilet broke a few days ago. As I've said before, I'm not a terribly handy person. But I was able to fix it.

The plastic chain that connects the handle to the flushing disk had broken. Fortunately it had broken right next to the point where it connected to the disk, and there was enough slack that I was able to hook it back to the disk. It worked for a few days. Then late one night I tried to flush, and the handle just clinked - the chain had disconnected again.

I turned off the water, drained the tank, grabbed a flashlight and took a close look. The problem was that there was a link of the chain still stuck in the hook on the disk; I hadn't seen that the last time (Sebastian had been holding the flashlight for me; he's a willing helper, but at six he doesn't have the most steady hands). The link had kept me from hooking the rest of the chain on properly.

Removing the extra link took a bit of work with a pair of snips and then a pair of pliers, but it was manageable. Getting the chain properly connected to the hook was very tough, because A) a toilet tank doesn't offer much space to work in, and my hands aren't small, B) ever tried working on something with two hands while holding a flashlight with your neck?, and C) that connection is designed to last - if it were easy to hook on, it would also be easy for it to disconnect spontaneously. But eventually the chain slipped into position with a surprising snap, and the toilet was fixed.

We've had no problem since. It's nice to be reminded that I'm not totally un-handy! And it felt good to be able to do a bit of father-type work on the house. Not that I buy into that sort of old-fashioned stereotype, of course...but it's nice to be able to take care of my family.

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