Saturday, September 28, 2013

This And Thats

It has been 2 weeks since I did any real posting.  I have, however, been pretty active over at the garden site recently, so feel free to check that out here.  Now, on with the thought dumping...

-Speaking of the garden site, I have not kept to a posting schedule over there this year.  The last couple years I would always try to post around the middle and end of the month at least, with other noteworthy posts when warranted.  It's not really that important to anyone other than me because it is only used as a diary of sorts, but next year I promise to get back to a semblance of regularity over there.

-We had our little circle of friends over last Saturday for the last fire pit party of summer - Saturday was the last full day of summer.  It was the usual fun.  B&Z were kind enough to bring some wood so we actually have enough to have a fall fire pit party sometime.  It was a cool evening, not cold, but still it was funny to me how everyone was in such a tighter circle than some summer fire pits.  Fall may be the best time to have a fire.

-Projects always need to be done.  I still haven't finished with the shelves downstairs, and I also have various fall projects on my mind.  Washing the house, washing and water sealing the back steps and some caulking on the roof of the porch should be done soon.  In no time it will be raking leaves, cleaning gutters and yard clean-up.  It's always something.

-We are well into football season now.  The Packers should be doing better, I feel.  The Badgers have maybe their biggest game of the season tonight at Ohio State on national television.  (I'm having a couple friends over for the game, it should be a good one!)  Pretty soon we'll have Badger basketball and hockey, too.  Yes, fall/early winter is a good time to be a sports fan in Wisconsin.  As for the Brewers, well, they suck but at least they're not quite as bad as the Cubs.

-Still no date set for the installation of the new windows.  It will probably happen around the beginning of November.  I'm eager to see (feel) how much they will help keep our house warm this winter.

I can't think of much else to say right now, except that I was thinking the other day how long it has been since I posted anything about the kitties.  So, look at them now!  PTFO

Basil and Hamish

Monday, September 16, 2013

Green Hams

Green hams will kill him, green hams will kill him, don't you be giving him Green Hams!* 

*Three Hams, actually.  You don't have to understand, it's just a tip of my hat to an old character and friend that I haven't talked to in a long time.  The cartoon made me do it, thanks Jonco!

Friday, September 13, 2013


This has been the least relaxing vacation I have probably ever had.  It started with my back going out 2 days before it started, it felt better in a couple days yet still weak and vulnerable.  The following weekend was spent with my wife's family up north at a cabin by a lake.  We had a good time, mind you, but a weekend with the in-laws should not be included with a personal vacation when the rest of my vacation is full.  Then on Monday and Tuesday I had window reps coming and going so I could not really do much of what I wanted, or I suppose I could have if I liked a lot of interruptions and going back and forth.  Wednesday was my birthday.  It was a gloomy, cool day and by this time I was in a gloomy, cool mood with windows on my mind.  I went out for a late lunch and a few drinks by myself but I just wasn't feeling it.  I stayed in a funk and was lazy all day.  Thursday, yesterday, I contacted the window rep that we wanted to buy from and he came by last night, I had lunch with my friend Jerome, finished fixing the grill wheels and cleaned up the garage so we can fit a car in it again.

That brings me to today, my last 'official' vacation day.  I can't eat anything until I give some blood to the lab around noon.  I have to call the window reps we didn't choose, I have errands to run and I have to write all this out while it's still fresh (check!) and probably post something over at the garden site.  I also have to make a call to the cable company to discuss not getting kissed before they, uh, never mind.  Then maybe, just maybe, make a drink, play some tunes and start one of my vacation projects this afternoon.  I was hoping to get the bottom shelves in the basement replaced this week and I have not started yet.  I had also planned on a 'cat box' project but I want to think about that a bit more and maybe come up with a better plan to do later, not that I had any time this week, anyway.

We'll have to see what happens, maybe I'll just be a bum.  Thanks for listening, I just had to bitch a little.  Some vacation, eh?

Windows Part II

Continuing with the windows saga, I had two more window company representatives stop by on Tuesday, the fourth and fifth meetings in two days.

The fourth window rep was a likable guy.  He was aware that I was meeting with several reps and we were not going to make a decision until the end of the week.  He was also aware that I had seen most of the demonstrations and did not waste our time on the little things.  He showed us his fine product, all it's unique and desirable features and gave us a fair estimate.  We had a new front-runner.

The fifth window rep was an older guy, had probably been in sales his whole life.  He was realistic and efficient, but his product was just not quite as good as the one before.  Not bad, but not as fancy or quite as efficient as the previous one.  He gave us a pretty low price but, again, went for the sale at the end even though we told him we were not making a decision that day.  Thankfully he was not as obnoxious as the third rep.

So, after all that we had made our decision;  window company number 4.  We got a very nice triple pane window with a u-value of .22*, wood grain interior (white exterior), hardware to match what we have throughout the house and black cladding to go around the outside of the window exterior.  I think the black cladding is going to look real good outside.  With a white house and a white window it will give the windows some added definition, plus the trim on the garage and the foundation are both black, so it will match.  The rep came by last night and we made it official.  Now all we have to do is make appointments when the time is right and in about 2 months we'll have our new windows.

My task today is to make courtesy calls to the other window reps, thanking them for their time in most cases and simply trying to remain polite in others.  Should be fun!

*The energy star rating this year is still .30, next year it lowers to .27 so we did pretty well - and I believe we'll get a 200 dollar tax break!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Latest Listening (Guilty) Pleasure... Rick Springfield

Here's another guilty pleasure of mine, for all the world to see.  Yes, I know he was Dr. Noah Drake on General Hospital.  Yes, I know middle aged women are his core audience.  I can't explain it, but I like Rick Springfield.

This has been on my mind lately because I found out he will be a few blocks away, at the Barrymore Theater on December 4, and I feel a bit conflicted.  I'd like to see him live, but it's just a 'stripped down' tour and tickets are 50 bucks.  Sorry, Rick, I know you can rock out when you want to and I'd love to see that, but I think I'll have to pass this time.  I did spend a few hours watching youtube videos of his shows the other night.  It may be a guilty pleasure, but I like what I like and won't apologize for that.  Rock on, Rick Springfield!

The promo clip for his upcoming tour:

This clip is very recent, from this year's Sweden Rock Festival.  I get a kick out of seeing the 'spider' stage lights in the background.  Obviously Kiss was to perform later that night on the same stage.  (See my Kiss LLP post here!)

Wow, three posts in one day - and I still have more on my mind!  Best save some for later.  PTFO

Windows, Windows and more Windows

No, not the Microsoft kind, the kind that covers those otherwise gaping holes in your house.
Our house has the original, single pane double hung windows and storm windows that were probably added in the seventies or eighties.  They are not efficient, not the most secure and can be difficult to open or close sometimes.  The glazing is falling out, not all the storm windows work and the outside is so difficult to clean that we have never tried.  Time for new windows, right?

I have this week off from work so I set up appointments with several companies over yesterday and today to get information and estimates.  So far I have met with three window company representatives, two during the day and one last night that my wife was present for.

The first window rep seemed like a nice guy but he did not give me an estimate.  He wanted to come back when he could meet with me and my wife both.  Several things about this meeting bothered me.  He sold fiberglass windows and wanted to tear out the whole old window frame rather that sell me a pocket window.  He also spent at least half the time he was here just badmouthing another window company and telling me all things bad about vinyl windows.  Looking back on that meeting, I'm sure he was a 'hard-sell' guy and wanted my wife here because he wanted to leave with a signed sale.  No deal.

The second window rep was a real nice guy who had a great presentation of his product.  He was well prepared and efficient and was fine with the fact that I was gathering estimates from several places and would not make a decision right then and there.  He gave me a very good estimate and, so far, is our leading candidate.

That brings us to the third window rep.  I had high expectations for this local, family owned company.  Like the second he was well prepared, but not nearly as efficient.  We listened carefully as he explained every detail of their product, but he often repeated himself and asked us stupid and rhetorical questions and expected us to answer, a power ploy that just made him and his unnecessary power point presentation go longer.  After 2 hours I tried to convey my restlessness to no avail.  Finally after about another half hour he got down to giving us some numbers, numbers that had more digits than I was happy with.  Yes, we agreed it was a superior product, yet the cost and his forcefulness were completely turning us off by this point.  He went through a few acts where he got the price down some, but still would not accept that we were not going to make a decision on the spot.  He was determined to leave with a signed deal and we were determined not to rush into anything.  Period.  Finally, my wife said that it's not a money issue anymore and I jumped in and told him no, it's a time-to-go-home-now issue.  He arrived at 5:00 and it was now around 8:30 and we had had enough.  We will not be calling him back.

Today I have an appointment at 3:30 this afternoon and 6:30 tonight for more of the same.  I hope they are more like the second rep and not the first.  And surely not like the third because I now have much less patience for that type of salesman.

Weekend Away

20130908 002My vacation got off to a rough start this year.  My back went out on me again last week, causing me to miss two days of work, Wednesday and Thursday.  Friday, my first vacation day off, we headed north to a cabin on Castle Rock Lake with my in-laws.  We had a similar weekend with my wife's family last year, but rented a different, larger and less 'rustic' cabin this year.  Thankfully my back was not a huge issue over the weekend and overall we had a pretty good time.  This family has food issues, though.  Even though the planned groceries were easily more than enough they still brought more.  It is never needed yet it is always that way with them so I should try to get used to it, I guess.

20130908 012The cabin was larger than last year so everyone had a room and for the most part their own bathroom, which was very nice.  Although it is 'lakefront' property we were a ways from the water and it was a bit of a hike to the nearest pier.  Still, it made for a good view.  We had a lot of fun playing games Friday night and sitting around the fire Saturday night.  This cabin had satellite TV so I was able to watch the Badger football game during the day on Saturday.  I had a good time at the little pub I went to watch the football game last year, but that was on the other side of the lake, a half hour drive, so I did not make that trek.  Overall, I think everyone had a nice time.  Perhaps this will happen every year now, I'm not sure.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Happy Labor Day all in the U.S. anyway, the last holiday of summer. 

I've been using the time this weekend to cut and paint plywood to replace the lower shelves in the basement.  We sometimes get water on the floor when it rains a whole lot over a short (or long) period - not inches deep, just enough to make it wet and create a couple puddles as it runs toward the drain.

20130901 011We have several of the same type of shelving in the basement, and although most are up on pieces of 2x4, the lower shelves have started to grow mold.  So in addition to the 1.5" the 2x4 gives me, I will raise the bottom shelves a couple notches for better air flow and replace the molding chipboard with 1/2" plywood that I am painting with mold and mildew proof paint.  We do have a dehumidifier and squeegee for those times, which is usually enough, but it was wet for a few weeks down there this past spring and the moisture that was there has become evident of late.  Next time I'm thinking a fan would help, as well.

I'm trying to get all the painting done this weekend, 2 coats per side with at least 2 hours between coats.  I have a vacation coming up when I plan to do the work in the basement.  I believe I already mentioned the 'cat bathroom' I was planning on making over vacation.  That will still be done although it is not a necessary item.  Mostly it was just to give me a project to do during my time off.  I already have all the wood I should need, I just have to get some hardware.

Temperatures fell off a cliff from what it has been like recently, hot and humid.  I sweated through a few sets of clothes the last couple days but today the humidity is gone and we have temps in the seventies.  Very comfortable, yet I fear the inevitable autumn is right around the corner.