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Nobody likes a frozen Macintosh...

January 15, 2009 10:56 AM 1/15/09

It was a balmy negative 14 degrees when I drove into work this morning and as of a couple hours ago my home weather station was registering minus 12.

And my friends in warmer climates think they have it bad because they dropped into the 60’s. Bah! It’s days like this when I wonder why I didn’t call in and use a vacation day.

In other news...once again I will highly suggest that the laws be changed to allow physical harm to people running full-time spam servers. And I’m not talking about the average zombied PC or firms that do legitimate mass-marketing to their customers. I’m talking about the annoying servers that are sending out billions of SPAM messages that take up my miniscule amount of bandwidth and require me to add whole subnets to my firewall rules to shut them down.

The guys that are making millions on this stuff - it should be legal to beat them senseless. I’m not talking permanent damage here just multiple hits with a sack filled with dried kidney beans until they bruise all over and repent their spammy ways. *ahem*

I normally don’t wish violence on people but there’s a select few that are really causing us problems. And while we need to focus on violent crime and other things these people affect all that by wasting the time of millions of people all over the world - including people in law enforcement. That’s why they need to be gotten rid of. The annoying things they do really cause problems for the rest of us.

Politicians of course do annoying things as well. For instance I just got an e-mail from one of my congresscritters responding to me about a subject I didn’t ask about. Furthermore this is the congresscritter that I sent an itemized list of current resolutions and my thoughts on each one.

I got back a form letter.

So what this means is that I have to try harder to reach that person because a form letter does not equal communication. And making your views known to those congresscritters is what it’s all about.

On the home front I decided to stop teasing my wife and not surprise her after all. What that was all about was that I had purchased a number of concrete paver molds that I think will look absolutely perfect for making pavers and stepping stones for the house. After some thought I decided that even though I think my choices are perfect I couldn’t make that choice unilaterally.

I picked up the molds on E-Bay from a seller in IL for cheap and they seem to have a ton more online including an absolutely fabulous detailed stepping stone that looks Aztec in nature. It doesn’t fit the house so I’ll have to pass on it unfortunately. (It’s so cheap that I might add it to my next order of those molds anyway just to have it. It would make a wonderful compass rose design or a good top for a sundial.) The seller is gostatue and so far they’ve done right by me. I’ll probably pick up multiples of the same molds for pavers once we decide on a style that way I can pour many pavers at once and get done making them faster. Then all that’s needed is to install them all properly and stain them the right color using concrete stain.

A couple of the styles I’ve found that I want to use for the garden are the same plain 6“x9” paver for the raised beds and then a 6“x9” paver mold that has a green man in the center which I want to use for every other stone in the top layer. I think that would be highly appropriate for the garden beds. ;-)

Mind you for those stones I’ll probably stain all of them using acid stain _before_ installing them in the garden because I don’t want those chemicals running off into my garden soil. I can’t seem to find a good long-term non-acid stain for outdoors use but I’m still looking.

Regardless of all that it’s going to be a lot cheaper to pour a buttload of pavers than it would be to buy bricks. And we can always replace them with bricks later if we so choose.

We sill having siding stuff to do this spring/summer but that all-in-allis not that expensive. What is expensive is the gable vent and attic fan I want to put in. That and the one existing attic vent with a fan in it needs to be replaced as the bearings are going in it. That’ll be a hundred dollars right there. Not sure if I want one that’s automatically temp controlled or to add this to the growing list of things that I’m using X10 for in that house. (I seriously need to put in the repeater because the signal phase issue is a pain in the ass. It makes controlling things horribly inconsistent in that environment.)

I’ve also come to the conclusion that I’m pretty much going to have to re-wire the house completely. Unfortunately this is best done from, yes you guessed it, the crawl space. (With the exception of ceiling lights/fans/etc.) Let’s see....3 complete bedroom circuits all with ceiling fans, one full bathroom circuit, one kitchen circuit, one dining room/library circuit, one living room circuit, one hot water heater circuit, one furnace circuit, all the outdoor outlets, and one basement circuit. Then there’s the 220V feed to the garage and the circuits out there which is a completely separate issue.

I also would like to separate the outlet wiring so that each outlet runs into the basement then junctions there before going back to the breaker box. That puts all the junctions in the basement without tearing apart the walls and makes certain they’re accessible in the future.

My wife brought up the issue of permits and she’s likely right that we’ll have to get one for doing all this which means getting the inspector over there to check it all out once we finish. (Thankfully BX armor-cable is code in our area because I don’t want to have to run conduit everywhere even though it would be a good idea.) I will have to do some calculations though AND have an electrician replace our breaker box for proper 200A service. Right now it’s a 150A box max. And since I need to put in a 220V X10 filter to prevent turning the lights of my neighbor’s X10 units on and off that means disconnecting the main 220V feed anyway. So yeah, a new box makes a lot of sense.

This is all not counting the trenching from the house to the garage that needs to be done to re-run the gas, electrical, and phone wires out there.

Lots of work to be done this spring and summer...

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( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 15th, 2009 06:44 pm (UTC)
Good fortune with your home renovations plans! This all sounds so familiar-- except that I haven't the skills to do electric/electronic work. Smashed walls and plaster dust everywhere. I had to create my own oven-bake 'thin-brick' to match the 35 year old ones in one smashed wall when Ehouse was rewired.

I would suggest you inquire about permits ahead of time, because they may have some weird regulations that will force you to adapt your plans. At least one job that was done on my house had to be ripped out and redone- not because it was wrong, but because the rules required it to be inspected at an intermediate stage first.

Edited at 2009-01-15 06:44 pm (UTC)
Jan. 15th, 2009 07:19 pm (UTC)
I just got off the phone with the city in fact. Since I'm doing the electrical myself all it would need is a submitted written plan and $50 for the permit.

The garden fence permit is $20 and I just have to scribble on my copy of the yard plot to let them know where the fence is going and submit that along with the application.

Now when I do the trenching out to the garage I will likely contract that out as it involves re-doing a gas line, installing a large pipe as a cable trough, and re-running the 220V line to the box in the garage. That's a lot of things I don't want screwed up or coming back to bite me.

I'm more than willing to do the work though so if I learn how it's supposed to be up to code before that time comes I might do it myself.
Jan. 15th, 2009 07:33 pm (UTC)
*nods* Whatever I can learn enough to safely and properly do by myself, I do. I've got fairly good at tiling, drywall installation & patching, mini-blind installation, simple replacement of existing light fixtures, and cement work (the city wouldn't take the cement rubble left over from fixing an old code violation, so I broke it into chunks and built it up into a statue of a bear (it's a bird-bath, bird feeder and planter).

Your city is MUCH cheaper and more efficient than mine. I went for months back and forth to get the simplest answers from them, and had to go in person to city hall in the end, because they'd tell me nothing over the phone.

I look forward to hearing about your progress.
Jan. 16th, 2009 01:53 am (UTC)
The trick to dealing with city personnel is working within their rules and, as Rand's grandmother (0) would say, understanding "the whole". Once you have a sense of "the whole" you can manipulate the parts.

It's hard to teach someone how to do that because it's partly listening to your instincts but it applies to everything in life.

As for progress I have to clean out the garage first because I have to do two things in there:

1) Set up the starter plants for the garden.

2) Start pouring pavers out of concrete for the raised garden beds and pathways.

Not to mention all the other things I have to get done. ;-)

(0) - A Myst book reference.
Jan. 16th, 2009 02:06 am (UTC)
Unfortunately, I lack 'people instincts'. I'm sure this does not help, but then, while I was in the Building & Zoning Dept all day I kept hearing many people vent their frustration-- including construction firm professionals who repeatedly said that none of the other communities they deal with were so incompetent.

Learning that more than half of the inspectors had recently quit & been replaced by people with no 'field experience' also went a way to explaining the problems.

Every project begins with other projects. :^)

Oh, Myst. I loved that and Riven. I was sorry when the new OS wouldn't support my old games. But at least I got to solve them first.
Jan. 16th, 2009 04:11 am (UTC)
Where I live, a licensed electrician has to either perform the electrical work or oversee someone else doing it - you can't just have him/her sign off on it after it's done. But, after seeing the totally bizarre way this house is wired, and the way my landlord's pet electrician "repaired" some of the wiring when it failed, I wonder just what the license actually confers upon a person.

I'm comfortable with doing a fair amount of electrical work myself, as well as stuff like carpentry, drywall, even plumbing. But gas makes me nervous.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )



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