drsulak: (Roof)
All of my spare energies are being spent to finish the kitchen. Our date for maximal completion has moved out to Wed, Aug 28th, as the county appraiser is off this week. This both good and bad. Good, because we have more time to work (or obsess) on the kitchen. Bad, for the same reasons :-)

Progress thus far:
- Electrical panel upgraded, and drywall repair work partially completed.
- Three additional circuits run (dual range 50A 220V, fridge/disposal, general countertop outlets)
- One 30A 220V circuit moved to other wall.
- Front of house completely resheathed and resided.
- New front door hung.

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drsulak: (Roof)
I've been less than motivated to type

Last last weekend featured landscaping work - mostly moving dirt and installing sod to repair damage from the flooding.

But there was also door replacement. Usually a trivial exercise - remove old door and (rotten) frame, install, level, shim, and paint.
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drsulak: (Roof)
And then some. We went from the lowest lake level I can remember, to the highest in less than two months. The water is overtopping the breakwall, which is fairly amazing for our lake. As an added bonus, we received 1/2" in a snow squall during lunchtime, which covered the grass and deck.

All the nice grass along the edge of the breakwall is gone - down to the river rock fill. While it won't happen this weekend, next weekend I'll order a bunch of topsoil and sod to repair the damage, plus add another 6" of height to the top of the wall.

The basement is bone dry, so I'm not going to complain.
drsulak: (Roof)
I should really be working on the kitchen, so instead, this weekend, I'm working outside doing spring cleanup.

It was a long, hard winter. It started out bland and boring, but then came in like a lion and went out like a lion. The lake froze very late (3 weeks late) on Dec 24th, but did not thaw until Apr 4th. A month later than usual and two weeks later than I'd ever seen it thaw. The last of the snow left my front yard shortly thereafter on Apr 6th.

A bunch of gravel had been spilled in my back yard in the grass over a wide area. It turns out a shop vac does a decent job of picking up the gravel. It's much better than picking up by hand :-)

I did have a bonfire already. Don't worry, there will be more. I had a bunch of stuff, er, let me rephrase that. I had a ceremonial fire. It seems the county rules have been rewritten. I don't think *I* was the driving force, but now all outdoor fires are forbidden, unless they are ceremonial fires. I'm sure we all agree my fires are ceremonial in nature.

Beyond that, I resurrected the tractor. Flat tire and flat battery. The hot tub was cold, so fixed that (power cycle) and ran a cleaning cycle. Yeah, pretty much everything seems to be out of service or needing service, but I'll get it all fully functional in due time.
drsulak: (Roof)
I'm thinking of starting an investment fund. I'll call it the Dale Panic Fund.

Whenever someone who should know better makes an EOTWAWKI prediction with a date and a testable hypothesis - economic collapse, hyperinflation, martial law, or other event, I'll buy into that investment.

The US dollar will collapse in three years? Yep. I'll buy against that.
All bank accounts will be seized by the US to pay down the debt/deficit? Yep. I'll buy against that.
Zombie hordes caused by fluoridated water? Nope. There is a minimum level of personal stability that I require. Plus folks who really believe that probably have applied equally clever reasoning to their personal finances. It'll be a dry well.

I figure I'll make a good return, or more likely, watch the contortions as they avoid the investment opportunity :-)
drsulak: (Roof)
My eleven day vacation is coming to an end. Lots of stories...

Whenever I see someone pulled over, I'll often intone guilty-guilty-guilty. This time, my turn...

On our trip north, a trifecta - we were stopped by the State Police in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Illinois. Sorry, no, we weren't driving on the wild side. We had a "please pull us over" sign on the car. One tail light (L), one fog light (L), and one head light (R) was burnt out. Unfortunately, the head lamp bulb is not a stock item, so we had little choice during our trip.

Back home, the tail light was easy. The rest, not so much**. Needed to be done now, despite the less than ideal weather, as we are now well known in half the Midwestern states.

** 2006 Prius headlights are fiendishly difficult to replace. Often viewed as a dealer-only replacement. However, to do so would be admitting defeat. Wasn't going to happen :-)
drsulak: (Roof)
I finally had a reason to use it. I find something nifty about big fluffy cotton insulation.

It's fairly expensive, about $1/sqft, but it purports to be good sound insulation, so I installed it in an exterior wall exposed to road noise.
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drsulak: (Roof)
As of Dec 24th, the lake finally froze over. Typically, freeze over is first week of December, but like last year, very late. IIRC, last year was after New Years.

Another item of note is the incredibly low water level. The lowest it has been, ever. Well, not quite. It was lower last week, but then we got two inches of rain, which still left it below anything I've seen in prior years. Hopefully the turtles and frogs moved to deeper water to winter.
drsulak: (Roof)
Sunday was cookie baking day, or so I thought.

Oh, look what we found. A new window in the oops bin at the local home improvement place. It was the color we want (hunter green), and it will replace a window that has exceeded it's lifespan.

And the manager wants it to go away, so it's an offer we can't refuse. It is now ours.

However, we do have a rule. Deals of this sort must be installed immediately. No, it doesn't go into the garage for later installation, as later is much later than we ever intend.
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drsulak: (Default)
I understand nearly the entirety of the Michigan tart cherry crop has been lost, in large part to the very warm March which allowed for early flower bud development, followed by a killing frost.

Back a few years ago, we purchased the extra whips when a friend's family farm planted 1000 trees. We got seven and planted them in our yard.

This year we (actually Anita) collected and pitted all the cherries. Despite the best efforts of the birds, 30 lbs of pitted, individually frozen Montmorency cherries reside in our freezer.

So, even though they were grown in Illinois, are they still Michigan cherries?

One other item of interest We've been battling cherry leaf spot for last few years. It doesn't bother the cherries, but its main effect is to cause early leaf drop, and thus weakening the trees. We really, really didn't want to resort to fungicides. In an ironic twist, the hot, dry weather that has been destroying other crops has prevented the leaf spot. The trees are healthy and we can remain "organic".
drsulak: (Default)
I'm in Tokyo for the next couple of weeks to attend meetings, answer questions, and otherwise be the in-county face.
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drsulak: (Default)
Work has been fairly intense, so I was looking for a chance to escape to the Keweenaw - ooh this weekend looks good. Good weather up north, Copper Dog, etc.

I would head on up and do some fiddly work at the cabin - I have butcherblock countertop that needs to be fit, the sink cut out, and then completely sealed top and bottom before final installation. A little bit of work, but lots of waiting.

Friday featured a heavy wet snow. I decided to delay after seeing trucks and SUVs ditched on my way home. And then late Friday night, I felt a tickle in the back of my throat. Yep, Saturday was a complete wipeout. I felt bad enough that it would not have been good for me to travel.

Bah.
drsulak: (Default)
Well, I'm calling it. Our lake is frozen over as of Jan 3rd. I won't call it safe to walk on, as I can still see small areas of open water, but frozen more or less. This is so late as to be unheard of. All previous winters, that lake has been frozen before Dec 10th. Usually by Dec 5th, and sometime as early as Nov 23rd.

It's been such a mild winter, my daffodils are coming up! If it doesn't get cold soon, I'll have crocuses in mid-January.
drsulak: (Default)
Fortunately, not me.

Hey kids, let's be careful with those 12" chop saws. The "chop" part is a hint.
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drsulak: (Default)
So I got a call a couple of minutes ago. Can I help hook up a stove? You see, it was supposed to be done last night (as well as the electrical), but the electricians didn't come, etc, etc.

Sure! I live for this stuff. Wait, it gets more interesting. Do I have a 3/4" to 15/16" flare adapter. Why yes, yes I do. So, the stove is working, and the turkey will go in (mostly) on time. And I probably saved at least one person from a horrible, painful death - or worse.
drsulak: (Default)
Yes, the original meaning.

My garage workbench light switch went "poof" - complete with sparks. I'm thinking "crap, the mice must have chewed the romex insulation". But wait, all my garage wiring is in conduit - conduit I installed.

The circuit didn't blow, and the rest of the outlets still work. But no joy with flipping the switch.

Grumble. I replace the switch, and all works fine.

But my curiosity compels me to do an RCA (root cause analysis), so I carefully break open the switch.

Ants.

Apparently, one was crawling across the contacts when I flipped the switch. Instant ant popcorn. Surprisingly, I would have expected the partially carbonized ant to be conductive. I guess not.

Thus my RCA is Root Cause Ant.

Dustbowl

Jul. 17th, 2011 12:17 pm
drsulak: (Default)
The weather has gone from cool/soggy to hot/dry in three weeks.

My lawn care is laissez faire - I cut, but that's it. No fertilizer or weed-killer. If it's green, I'm happy. Well, the weeds are turning brown, and it's not entirely pleasant to walk on the lawn.

Now, I could use household water, but I have another option - the lake. So for the first time in three years, I'm pumping from the lake, using the water for the lawn, flowers, and vegetable garden. Given the weather forecast, I'll be doing this for quite a while.

I Spy...

Jun. 27th, 2011 10:11 pm
drsulak: (Default)
..You

I finally moved my fancy Axis netcam to its place of honor - on the very top of the roof. I can now survey my domain in all its 360 degrees of glory.

Perhaps I got a bit carried away. I painted the pole a nice hunter green, with a graceful loop from which the protected enclosure hangs.
drsulak: (Default)
My 2002 Prius is now a Light-Second Prius. Yep, now at a shade over 186300 miles.

When I bought it, gas was a bit about $1.40 a gallon. I bought it more for the geek factor, than the likelihood I'd save on gas (considering the "hybrid premium"). Sadly, I've more than broke even.

Let's review that state of the Prius:
- Original main battery. As far as I can tell, no appreciable degradation in capacity.
- Original 12V accessory battery.
- Original spark plugs.
- Fuel economy has not changed - 42 in winter, 52 in summer. All time low 36, all time high 62.

Not all is perfect. In addition to the normal consumables, I've replaced:
- Water pump @ 50K, $400
- Front wheel bearings @ 130K, $800.

Oh, and the tape player no longer works. I'm not terribly sad, nor motivated to fix, as I now exclusively use the aux port on the CD player.
drsulak: (Default)
Hello?
Is your sump pump running?

I received a call at work from AE. There was an odd call coming through on her cell saying something about water. I had forgotten about what I had set up, but not for long.

Two years ago, our sump pump failed on, pumped out the water, ran dry, and burnt itself out. Then the water came back, filled up the sump, and covered the basement floor with an inch of water. Although I had everything up on pallets and shelves, this was still most annoying.

I purchased a widget that monitors temp, power, and water. If it detects a problem, it calls out.

Yep, the new sump pump has failed too. Failed off. With the water quietly rising, it hit the detector, and the widget called out well before disaster.

I definitely recommend it. Much better than the low-tech water detector that just screams from the sump.

In the sump, no one can hear you scream.
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