October 6, 2008 11:12 AM 10/6/08

As always vacations are too short. And having to go into the office on one of those days completely threw my schedule off.

Still I got some things done and now have the space in the garage to shuffle things around and get the stuff in there swapped with the stuff in the third bedroom.

Had to kill yet another wasp this morning. That’s three over as many weeks so I’m going to call back the exterminators if I see another one because at that point it’s not just coincidence.

My wife did a wonderful job of going through the boxes in the living room so you can actually see the fireplace now. We’re getting there...

I didn’t get to anything in the garden yet so that’s still a horrible mess. I’m hoping to get to that this week because I won’t have time to get to it this weekend. If I don’t it’s no big deal either.

Hopefully it’s going to be dry enough to mow when I get home today. I think today is close to the last mowing day left of the season so I’ll probably mow the yard, trim, then take the deck off the mower and swap the grill for the mower in the garage. That also means putting the plow back onto the front of it again so it’s ready for first snow. If there is a need to mow again I can use the trim mower.

My wife has said that she likes the one old dresser so I need to go out and get a couple of knobs for that as well as clean it up before it goes into the house. I should be able to get that finished when I get home today and then we can get it in the house so it’s out of the garage at least. Need to wax the bottom of those drawers as well as the ones in the kitchen.

Way behind on any writing but I should be able to catch back up once the garage/bedroom swap is finished.

Currently managing to keep at least one fish alive. That’s better than we did with the last batch. I have to clean the tank again and vacuum it. I’d love to have a larger tank eventually but we just don’t have the space.

The air in the house is considerably better since I changed out the furnace filter. The other one was badly clogged. I’m hoping we can make one last more than a month but I bought three so we’re okay there. I really need to get the moisture barrier replaced in the crawl space as the dirt is really damp down there. Or was when I was changing out the filter. Maybe the furnace will help that now that we’re running it again.

I finally figured out a good way to light that space - LED christmas lights. Installing them will be a blast as well because I figured out I can use a remote control tank to do so. Not the cheapest method but better than crawling all over the place under there. (Ick.)

If you take an airsoft capable tank and notch the barrel you can tape a string to one of the airsoft pellets and place it so the string is in the notch then you can drag the lights to a far location in the space, fire the airsoft pellet out using another pellet already loaded in the tank. That will knock the front pellet out of the barrel and leave it lying on the ground along with the end of the lights. I figure I can light the entire crawl space using this method. Unfortunately the RC airsoft tanks that suffice are a minimum of $60 or so. Not cheap as I said but workable.

And once you’re done wiring you could easily put a wireless camera on it and use it to check for foundation problems. ;-)

Which reminds me that I need to clean out the vents in the crawl space walls. They are pretty much boarded over but shouldn’t be. Not sure if I’ll get to that this year though.

Harvested our “accidental tomatoes” a couple of days ago. There’s still one out there that I might bring in and harvest the seeds from. It was bug nibbled so I didn’t pick it but the seeds should still be good. I’ll have to look up drying those. I’ve already dried a dozen watermelon seeds properly for next year so these shouldn’t be too hard...
September 29, 2008 2:00 PM 9/29/08

After crawling through spider-infested, damp, dusty, icky, and gloomy spaces under the house I’ve got wires run for both the DSL and a network wire into the third bedroom. (I _hate_ spider webs.)

Accomplishing that I managed to move all my currently running servers downstairs into the partial basement and they thankfully all came back up and running okay....for now...*knocks on wood*.

So that leaves only two real task for day one of my vacation:

1) Move the surplus computer/electronics stuff in the garage into the basement. (Oof!)

2) Organize the rest of the garage. (Not so oof.)

I’ll likely start working on number one here in a little bit then number two I can do most of the night as long as I’m quiet after 9 p.m.

I need to plug the existing laser printer into the hub at the other end of the third bedroom so it can be used until I can get the 8100n set up in there. (It’ll be nice to be able to print “B” sized again.)

I submitted my first idea to Google’s project for ideas to help people. ( http://www.project10tothe100.com/ ) I don’t want to post it here just to keep things clean but since the idea is fairly cheap to run with, easy to test, and could benefit everybody I have high hopes for it.

Once the garage is all organized I should have more space to test some of these projects myself. And that really is something I want to do for a good portion of the next few years. I want to work on ideas of helpful or fun and hopefully easy to understand and build.

I think that unless there’s a good reason I’d like to release any of the helpful ideas to the public domain. That doesn’t sound very good for making money but frankly I want people to benefit from anything I come up with. And if it’s a choice of being buried by a corporate entity and making millions or being poor and millions benefit I’ll take the latter almost every time.

I can’t say that I wouldn’t think about taking the money. I mean the money would put me in a position to help a lot more people and come up with a lot more ideas. But could you bury one gem so others could have a million of them? I’m not sure I could...

It’s been lightly raining all morning so it feels a little blah here right now. I’d light a fire in the fireplace but we haven’t had it checked out yet.

Turns out that’s not too expensive after all - $140 or so to clean it and check it out for us. I was expecting some sort of insane $400+ “inspection fee” but this is actually reasonable. Likely I’ll call them and get them out here later this week hopefully.

*pauses to get the mail from the mailbox*

Oh cool! My dvd of The Specials arrived. Supposedly this a sleeper campy superhero movie. It cost me almost nothing from Amazon so I picked it up. Maybe I’ll watch it tonight.

Oddly my daughter got a letter from someone in her class. I think that was a class exercise - to send mail to other classmates. My wife’s dvd on biomedical interventions for autistic kids also arrived. And the best part of today’s mail? NO BILLS! Woot!

On a side note I seem to have gone almost vegetarian in some ways. I now eat nothing but vegetables for breakfast. Weirder yet I’ve given up coffee pretty much. Tea though seems to be a good staple drink for me - either unsweetened iced tea or hot tea with a bit of honey in it.

That sounds good....I think I’ll go make some tea now...
September 26, 2008 11:07 AM 9/26/08

Or more precisely don’t ride through the fog at 5 in the morning. I had a serious case of “CSS” or Can’t See Sh!t. Nasty scary ride to work today...but fun.

[livejournal.com profile] acelightning pointed both me and [livejournal.com profile] siliconshaman to this Google challenge:


It’s basically ideas to help other people. They have $10M set aside to fund the winning idea into reality.

That rocks and I think I might have a few ideas as to what to submit. I’d love to see any one of my serious ideas help people even if I don’t end up getting paid in the process.

I need to find out if they will accept multiple ideas or if it’s one per customer so to speak. *checks the FAQ* Oh cool! You can submit more than one idea! Excellent! And I was right - it’s not a “we’ll give you $10M to make the idea reality.” That means this should only get serious people rather than money grubbers.


And I think I’ve got just the thing right off the top of my head...

In other news I still can’t get the damn Cobalt to play sound. It looks like I’ve got everything done right and the cobalt-port guys from the NetBSD mailing list haven’t gotten back to me so I might just have to file a kernel bug report. I hate doing that because if it’s not really a bug and just something I didn’t know how to fix I’ll likely get called a noob. Bah! :-(

So as of 2:30 p.m. today I’m on vacation for a whole week and I’ve got a great deal to get done. I’m so horribly anal about what I’ve got to do that I went and made a Gantt chart for all the tasks from Monday to Thursday of next week. As long as I keep at them and get them done everything should go as planned. When I’m done a lot more of our house and grounds should be better organized and won’t be so hard to maintain. That will leave me time to devote to other projects like re-covering/refurbishing my grandmother’s couch, making the second motorcycle ridable, the root-ball staff I have finally started for a friend of mine, and maybe actually reading again regularly. (I feel like I’ve been in a literary desert for quite some time because I used to read a book every couple of days. Yes I read that fast.)

And once all this is handled I’ll also finally have the organization to be able to make time for things like re-learning my programming, writing, video editing, electronics stuff, and many many other projects.

I’m hoping that once I get the third bedroom done I can put some good task lighting in there for our daughter to work at the one desk with us. Once I finish the current crop of house stuff I’ll actually have time to spend with my daughter and my wife as well.

That’s precious time I have felt unable to spend lately. I’ve been so hammered by things that I’ve been hiding out in the garage trying to relax. Once most of this major organization stuff is finished I won’t have such a big load and some of that pressure will be off. This is a good thing.

Anyway this week will hopefully get everything back on track but only if I keep at it the entire week. I think I’ve left enough flexibility in it to allow me slack and I purposely didn’t schedule anything on Friday just in case things run long or I’m a little slow at getting them done.

Which admittedly I sometimes am...
September 22, 2008 11:06 AM 9/22/08

So the wasps are officially dead. At least that nest of them anyway but I have yet to see any new nests. This is a good thing...

In case I didn’t mention it Pitboy came over and helped me fix one of the three Color LaserJet 2550n printers so now we have a color laser in the house. (Thanks Pitboy!) I’m on my way to fixing the other one so I can either sell it or use it in the garage. Have to put all these printers one by one on the kill-o-watt and see what they draw. I’ll still likely put them on X10 modules so they get turned off during the day but I still want the numbers.

I’m probably taking next week off so I can get things done at home. I’ve got the vacation time and really want to get all the misc shuffling of things done before winter. I’ve decided that if my wife wants a day-bed in the third bedroom then I’ll put the “ugly” couch out in the garage and forego the pool table. I’ll just go with the whole seating area thing for entertaining friends that come over. (And it gives me a place to sack out if I’m tired or in trouble with da wife.)

There’s still a lot to do. The garden is done so I need to cut it all down and pull up the nasty carpeting that was out there. That and clean out the small wasp nests in the garage vent. (That reminds me - I need to get a couple of furnace filters to put over the garage vents. Keep the heat in but let the air circulate.)

I’d like to get my weather station mounted properly before winter as well. I also need to swap the grill for the lawn tractor so that the tractor is in the garage with the plow on it. But that’s still a few weeks away. Still mowing and grilling time left on the clock. (As soon as all the other stuff is downstairs though I will move the second bike into the garage so I can do work on it during winter. When I’m finished organizing things there will be enough space to push both bikes off to the side and work on a vehicle if need be.)

There’s also still riding time left on the clock as well. I need to get out there and ride while I still can.

We’re making progress but slowly. I’m hoping I can push a bunch of that along next week and then all that will be left will be things we need to pay for - like the fireplace/chimmney inspection - or minor things like book shuffling and picture hanging.

I still need to get the network wiring done for downstairs so that I can move everything down there. I don’t like it but I’ll have to get into the crawl space big-time. Such is the life of a home-owning geek. :-/

Just like I’m not looking forward to tackling the carpet in the garden but at least that’s out in the open away from the spider webs. *shudder*

In a couple weeks I’ll likely buy the square steel pipe I need to make a ladder rack for the truck and weld that together. It shouldn’t take long. A friend reminded me to remember to gusset the assembly so it doesn’t twist. Good advice that.

Definitely concerned about the financial stuff. The lady at the credit union said that all their stuff is protected and not stock invested or anything so I’m okay there. I’m more concerned that our loan is through Countrywide and they aren’t doing too good. They haven’t tanked so far but it’s early yet in the crash of our economy. And no matter what anybody says this bail-out is NOT going to help. We should be bailing out the people not the businesses.

Things are going to get really bad folks but if you’ve got the capacity to read these words then you already know that. It’s time to take a complete stock of what we have and what else we need to obtain to help us survive. I want to definitely get a decent gas or propane generator before the middle of next year. Definitely at least basic solar by the end of next year if not sooner. I think I’m going to stock some MREs as well. Just in case. That and empty the rain barrel into containers. It’s not immediately potable since it came off the roof but it’ll do for washing things and can be boiled to make it potable.

I do know that some of my things I’ve had for a while are going to go up on E-Bay now. The two Heathkit W-5 tube amps - matched serial numbers. The tube base PA system. The Sylvania Polymeter. Maybe a couple of other things. I need to test the tube amps before they get put up there. Needless to say that will get me some cash, big or small, to use to buy other things.

Hopefully I’ll be able to start the box-by-box de-kluge next week after I shuffle things around...
January 22, 2008 11:14 AM

...but sometimes it feels like it would be easier.

Tension is ramping up a little between my wife and myself because our pre-qualification runs out in about two weeks and might be problematic to be renewed.

We’re waiting for at least two of the estimates for the sewer hookup today but we’re still seeing other houses this weekend.

My mind is telling me to be cautious though because if they come back with a low quote they might be low-balling the quote. And since our broker told us that some of the hookups can be as bad at $30k it might really not be worth the gamble.

And who knows - there might be a considerably better house out there for us this weekend. Just have to wait and see.

I came up with a wonderfully inexpensive way to make the round Doctor Who like panels from the Tardis and even how to make them glow in any color I want. Better yet these things are blindingly simple to build and won’t cost a fortune AND can be made free-standing so that you don’t have to leave them with whatever house you make them for.

In fact just sitting here I figured out how to make them modular so that one circular panel can be attached to any other in whatever amount is needed. The trick though will be getting the lighting just right. You don’t want something pinpoint or you’ll see that behind the panel. You don’t want something too bright because then the place will look like a science lab. (Which might not be a bad thing if that’s what you want.) It’ll require some tweaking.

But that brings me right back to the house. I need a house to have room to build this stuff and time to create this stuff.

Of course creating doesn’t necessarily need space. Many many many people create things in smaller spaces than a single room or a single chair or a mote of dust in their eye.

I create words here but some of the things I want to create require my hands and wood and metal and glass and electronics and a whole host of other things. But right now I only have the space for words.

Oh to have infinite materials and infinite time and infinite space at my fingertips. That would truly be a joy. But realistically it ain’t happening. ;-)

So I have to bide my time and wait. Hopefully for not much longer. The feeling is very similar to the one I got waiting for our daughter to be born.

That strange timeless feeling where you feel like you are not moving forward and all the stress of the world is on your shoulders and you can do nothing but sit quietly and wait for it to ease into existence.

Damn this one’s taking a long time to be born...
January 21, 2008 11:11 AM

So we’re still waiting on the quote for the sewer hookup of the one house but it’s taking time we don’t have really. So we’re going to continue looking at houses this weekend and see what else is available. After crunching numbers with our mortgage broker even with PMI involved our upper limit is about $175k. That including taxes, insurance, PMI, etc. gives us a monthly payment of about $1450.00 which is well within our ability to pay.

We don’t want to waste time either so if the sewer estimate comes in heavy then we’re going to drop our current contender like a hot rock. There’s plenty of other things out there...

Truth be told both my wife and I just want this to be over. We want to buy a house, move, and then settle in for the long haul. We certainly seem to have enough to look at but honestly buying a house in this market shouldn’t be so damn hard.

Of course that puts our current contender in a new light. It’s been on the market a while and probably because of the sewer connection issue. (Recap - it needs to be connected to the village sewers 90 days after you buy it. That could cost quite a bit.) That means that either they need to seriously drop the price, pay closing, AND credit the sewer connection costs if they want to sell it.

Our broker is probably right - it’s probably too much trouble and a waste of our time. But I’m going to keep it on the table just in case...

So we’re going to be looking at houses again this weekend and within our specifications I easily printed 5 or 6 out of the one real estate site. It irritates me a bit that I can’t get direct access to the MLS. Seems to me that _all_ the data on a house should be available to buyers at any time. Hmm...it’s probably a violation but I bet you could make a pretty penny by having a real estate license and setting up a server that queries the MLS data when a particular number is entered and gives all the data back to a buyer who pays a fee. (Too easy - there’s gotta be a suitly law against it.)

Our broker mentioned that there are a lot more foreclosures out there than before and quite a few of them in our area. She offered to put us in touch with an agent who specializes in them but I want to give our agent a chance before going with someone else. But she’s right in that there are a ton of bank owned properties out there now.

And we need to move faster since our lender has been bought. (You can guess which one if you read the news.)

And if we don’t find anything and our funding disappears? Well then for now we put everything in storage and rent a small apartment somewhere.

Whatever happens we _will_ survive. And who knows? Maybe that’s what’s supposed to happen.

I’m going to keep my optimist’s hat firmly on my head though. In this market we can’t help but buy a house and well within our timeframe too.

A friend of mine made a joke about making up a web page “Pick Mike’s House!” with flash animation and everything. I think he’s got the right idea and we need to laugh at the situation. If we get too stressed out then we’ll certainly screw it up. And we definitely don’t want that...
January 18, 2008 11:25 AM

In case the above makes no sense to you it means that you need to listen to more Robin Williams. It’s from a joke on being cold in Chicago.

It truly isn’t that cold really. At least not compared to previous winters. It just seems cold because we’ve had relatively warm winters for several years now. (And they say there’s no Global Warming...)

My mom’s coming down to visit this weekend and bringing her computer with her for me to look at. (Along with her wireless antenna from the back of the computer as well I hope.) She’s having the usual Windows problems so I think she has a bit of spyware/adware/crap on there that needs to be cleaned off. No biggie.

She’s due for an upgrade anyway. Her new printer isn’t supported under Windows 98 (a buttload aren’t any more) and she needs more RAM among other things. I think while she’s down here we’ll see if we can’t pick up RAM for her system and a copy of Windows XP. I’d like to switch her to a Mac but her knitting machine software might not like that. Also no biggie. At worst we should be able to get both things locally or a bit out of the way and then she’ll be fine. One way or another we’ll figure something out.

Crap. The router is down at home so I can’t get to my mail. Well that sucks. One thing I’m hoping to rectify with our house purchase is my connectivity. Even if I get the exact same bandwidth I’ve got I’ll be happy so long as it stays up and running all the time. I don’t mind the occasional outage but this once a month to once a week crap gets old really fast.

That reminds me that I still need to purchase the ADSL card for my Cisco 2610. I hope to be able to buy that next week but we’ll see how the finances go.

*pings router*

Damn. Still down. I was hoping it would reset itself like it’s done in the past but it doesn’t look like that’s happening. That means I have to go immediately home and power it off and back on. I really need to set up some sort of automated way of doing that to bypass this issue.

And I still need to do a ton of other things as well. The most immediate ones are laundry and packing the kitchen stuff up so that we’re ready when the ginormous china cabinet returns from its stay in California. I suppose I should call them and find out when they are going to start shipping the large stuff. Hopefully last but I can’t count on that.

And I need to get my Sun E450 out of the basement. And I need to get all the stuff in the garage organized. And I need to tear apart all the wood I’m going to use for closing up the bookshelves. And I need to ship boxes. And I need to have an old TV crated up and shipped. And and and and and and and....A BILLION OTHER THINGS!!!! AUUUUUUGHHHH!!!!


Sorry...overwhelmed there for a moment. I need more hands and more time. Or one or the other. I wonder if I can order Oompa Loompas on the web somewhere...
nimitzbrood: (Default)
( Jan. 15th, 2008 11:05 am)
January 15, 2008 11:05 AM

So we’re still in the housing market. Still looking.

The contenders from the weekend had some problems but two out of the five we might make a serious offer on. The farmhouse behind the restaurant needs a washer/dryer hookup but we’re wondering why one isn’t in there already after all this time. And the cedar one might require some immediate sewer hookup done once we buy it. If the sellers can find a way to get us cash to do that I’m fine with that. And putting in a washer/dryer hookup in the one house, provided there’s not a reason we can’t have one, isn’t all that costly. I think that the cedar house has a little more going on for us space-wise but the farmhouse has more class. (The ranch was bland and boring and didn’t really have enough space.) I’ll have to seriously talk it over with my wife as this is not a decision I can make alone. At least not without serious consequences.

And stress is still keeping me off my feed. I’m working on it though. Last night didn’t help because I didn’t get out of work until 9:30 p.m. and hadn’t had any serious food all day. Not good but since I ate on the way home it was ok.

Still a lot of packing to be done at home. I’ve got several empty boxes and totes to fill so I better get moving. And I’m way behind in shipping things out to people. Need to take care of that pronto! It’s going to be cold this week too so working out in the garage is not going to be easy either. I’ll need to fire up our housemate’s turbo-heater if I want to get anything done out there. No biggie really as there’s plenty to get done inside.

The spam problem is getting worse. When I check the main Ameritech account that goes with my ADSL I now get 100+ messages. All of them spam except maybe one status update from SBC. And I’m now getting daily spam on my main personal account. Bummer. :-(

I vote that we take any spammer we find, string them up in a harness above a giant wood chipper. I’m thinking extremely high up. Then give them a cell phone with a half dead battery. Then tell them that the winch will lower them into the wood chipper at a rate of speed depending on how much spam their servers send out. If their servers cease operation for 7 days they will be released. If they resume spamming the cable starts at half the length it was previously. Eventually some spammer is going to be stupid enough to get himself shredded and that will put a serious damper on the others out there.

(Ok I can dream can’t I?)

Regardless something has to be done and fining them doesn’t seem to be working...


nimitzbrood: (Default)
Mike Hebel


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