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The Pit of Despair
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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in drsulak's LiveJournal:

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Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017
12:14 am
The Prius Is Dead
That's what the shop says regarding my 2002 Prius. Well, mostly dead.

The serpentine belt is busted, which was caused by the A/C compressor locking up. A bit ironic that the car was laid low by A/C in the winter.

On the bright side, it's slightly alive. The Prius can and does run without the serpentine, but engine feedback is screwed up, and the car will overheat fairly quickly as the water pump needs the serpentine belt. However, I'm not going to dump in the $1400 necessary to replace the compressor.

I'm not quite ready the junk the car. I've got one other idea, so we'll see.
Monday, January 2nd, 2017
12:17 am
New Years Day, 2017
A quiet start to 2017 - a little organizing here and there, followed by a bonfire to consume some obsolete wooden project pieces (old doors, flooring scraps, etc). My garage is now ever so slightly more empty.

The ice fishermen were busy tonight as the weather was about perfect - 28F and no wind. The glow from their camps was clearly visible.
Wednesday, March 9th, 2016
5:47 pm
Weather Update
The lake is now clear of ice. This is much earlier than normal. Couple that with a freeze-over date of Jan 2nd, and it's one of the shortest lake ice periods I've seen.

Be that as it may, I've made what seems to be a counter-intuitive bet on the weather. I've put money down that one more snowfall will occur this season. Taking off the snow tires and draining the snowblower seem to have no effect - the current unusual warmth continues.
Monday, February 8th, 2016
5:53 pm
Post Christmas Sizzle and Slag
I took advantage of the somewhat warmer weather to take down the exterior lights. An odd thing; I never turned off the lights on my blue tree. I didn't think much of it when it winked out a while ago as often the wind can work loose a plug. Eh, it was after the new year, so I was less than concerned when the lights went out as it saved me a trudge through the icy remnants of past sleets and snows.

But Saturday on closer inspection, it was disconnected, but not by the wind. A six inch blackened circle of char on the ground centered on an incinerated connection. The circuit breaker was not popped, so the cord was live. I can't say for sure what happened to the safety fuse in the light string, as everything was reduced to carbon, ash, and slag.

Although this occurred outside, it serves as an example why I have a smoke detectors in every room of the house...
Monday, November 9th, 2015
5:32 pm
Sloooow Going
For the past few days, my connectivity became very slow.

I knew my previous kludge to recover from the rabbit-chewed wire was short term. But, much like the leaky roof procrastination story, it had been dry, plus I had my Clear connection. Clear is now gone - Sprint pulled the plug Nov 6th, plus we got more rain since late October.

I did have an alternate set of wires that I installed a couple years ago when I redid the floor; completely protected. I just never finished hooking things up. Hey, it involves going into the crawl space, which is a motivation decreaser.

Why was the rabbit-chewed connection slow? When I pulled out that damaged wire, I found the answer. Where I previously kludged the wire, I placed it well off the damp/wet ground. When the next batch of rains came, the partially removed insulation acted as a funnel and filled up the wire. With the inner insulation soaking in the water, there was enough leakage current to degrade (but not completely kill) the connection.

So now, I'm back.

An update on other nibblers. The annual mouse surge is over. I had four live traps going; yes, I do catch and release... After a few days, I've caught nobody else. The final mouse count this year is 22. Pretty close to last years count of 21.
Thursday, October 29th, 2015
4:37 pm
Signs of Winter
Last night we had our first snow flurries. Heavy snow pellets for three minutes, but nothing that stuck. This was the day after I picked up the newly mounted snow tires for the Prius (the regular tires remain on the Prii, but I'm ready).

That's not the only sign of winter. We've had the usual surge of mice, so my live traps are doing a land office business. This should last a week or so until I deplete the area of mice looking for warm shelter. My live traps are much nicer than the alternative - the west end of my house has a colony of hungry shrews.

And to top it off, a rabbit decided my phone/DSL cable was tasty. Chewed up a foot of cable. The wires weren't broken, but the insulation was. When the rain and snow came, the cable got wet, and shorting ensued. I have a temporary fix in place until I can re-route my cable away from easy-to-nibble locations.
Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015
5:11 pm
Always the Answer: More Power
They solved the problem with the foundation hole flooding, and work has resumed. There is a much larger trash pump up top, and a much larger sump pump down below.

I've taken a picture of the hole from a different angle (parallel to the road, looking west). Those pumps are needed, as there's a pretty good waterfall into the hole on the left side, about a third of the way up, pouring into the center of the green goo at the bottom of the trench.
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Monday, September 21st, 2015
4:30 pm
More Digging and Pounding, Followed by Gurgling
It could be worse. It could be raining.

The 4+ inches overwhelmed the pumps and work has stopped. The water is higher in the hole than in the lake - no surprise since the work is at the inlet of the lake.

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Saturday, September 12th, 2015
6:12 pm
Digging and Pounding at the Lake
Lots of extrovert construction in front of my house as the road widening prep work kicks into high gear. Actual paving will occur next year. With the utility work, it's a rainbow of marker flags and paint. Power, gas, telco, water, and sewer all have to move.
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Wednesday, November 19th, 2014
4:23 pm
Changing of the Seasons
Yes, yes, everyone has felt, seen, and heard about the slightly chilly weather. It is with some interest that I note as of Nov 18th, our lake has frozen over.

Usually, the lake freezes over the 1st week in Dec. Ours is a glacial pothole lake, so it's the last in the area to freeze given it depth and active springs. It doesn't matter how warm or cold the summer or fall may have been, the thermal inertia of the lake evens out the warm and cold days, until the shortening days finally pull enough heat out of the lake. Last year was unusual - Nov 23rd, so this is even more unusual.

So, yes, while the cold weather is not itself unusual, the *duration* is, and thus is reflected in the early freeze over.
Monday, November 17th, 2014
5:37 pm
Summer is *definitely* over...
Which means those tasks I've deferred because winter was so far away are now staring me coldly in the face.

In particular, the kitchen.

Ah, underfloor radiant heating, specifically pex tubing and hot water, is so nice on the feet and gently heats the room above. As part of the kitchen remodel, 3/4" cherry wood floor was added. This effectively cuts the existing thermal transfer by 50%.

Anticipated, as a design element was ceramic tile inlays in front of the front door, double sliding glass doors, and in front of the windows where the dogs can view arriving visitors.

About a week ago, I hooked up the pad in front of the sliding glass doors. It works really well! But what about the others? Uh, that's were motivation fell short. Although laid, the tiles were not yet grouted. So Saturday morning I had a vacuum in one hand, and toothbrush in the other, cleaning the accumulated debris and dust out. Sunday was grout on, grout off. It turned out very well, and now I'll hook up the pex to the boiler tomorrow, once things are good and set.
Wednesday, June 4th, 2014
5:28 pm
Return of the Daleks
Hey, I'm loosing weight. Uh oh, it's because of the mosquitoes.

The past couple years have been most moderate, but starting about two days ago, we had a monstrous hatching. Even in the heat of the day, the mosquitoes are distinctly unpleasant. At night, our windows are covered in mosquitoes, waiting for a chance to drain us or our dogs should we venture out after dark. During the day, we've resorted leaving out the far end of the house, where we can close doors to set up an airlock. Later, we go back and battle it out with flyswatters and shopvacs to clear the space.

Thus, I have been forced to release the mosquito daleks.

The deployment did come with a personal cost. Even with precautions, the mosquitoes extracted a short-term toll, and I returned quite lumpy. This is acceptable, as the slaughter has been immense (and most, most satisfying). A cloud is ever present around the daleks, as the mosquitoes attempt to feed on the moist, CO2 emitting, faux-bovine (courtesy of the octenol lure).

At some point, I'll need to brave the cloud to dispose of the bodies, as they are rapidly filling the catchment container at the rate of several thousand per day.

Bite my shiny propane-powered daleks, mosquito fiends, and taste the bitter flavor of total extermination.
Monday, April 14th, 2014
8:04 am
Winter Wrapup
Drained the gas from the snow blower. Took off the snow tires. Turned off the furnace. Put the shovels away. Someone at work bet me that winter was most sincerely and truly over and there would be no more snow. I took him up, as if I lose, we win.

A few things of note. The ice cleared from the lake on April 4th. With it icing up on Nov 25th, we had an amazing 4+ months of ice cover! It was a long winter, as the rabbits and field mice ate things they normally wouldn't: the bark off bushes - even the very spiky blackberry canes. Beyond that, with the heavy snow over this winter, most things appear to have survived quite well.
Wednesday, January 15th, 2014
6:23 pm
Final Kitchen Inspection
Or so I thought. Still a few things left. I need GFCIs on all countertops, not just ones within 2 feet of a sink. It must be a new rule; I suspect folks have found new ways to shock themselves, so the rule has been expanded.

Need to finish the tile floor inlays. Normally, it would be a don't care, but we are cleverly embedding heat in them, so they must be completely covered in tile. And the island cabinets must be in place.

But our building permit extension ($free) has expired, so we will need to fork over $78 for temp permit (90 days). Our inspector Ed was quite nice about it, so no complaints.
Wednesday, November 6th, 2013
5:26 pm
Paint Week
Now that the floor is done, again it has been covered up in preparation for painting.

I'm cheating here, and having someone finish the last little bit of drywall sanding, and then paint everything. The key here is the "last little bit" is "quite a lot" when one considers the skylight tunnels and the hallway. Oh, and the wall where I upgraded the electrical panel. And I might as well have them finish that wall in the bedroom where I installed a new window and added sound proof insulation. Let's make that lots and lots of work.

I'm tickled the painting crew is a husband and wife team. How many relationships can withstand one home improvement activity, let alone doing it every day:-)

They've been working since Monday, and they should be done with the kitchen area today. It's really looking good.

Once they move on to the other parts of the house, I'll finally install the ceiling fans. Then we build the island, and I'll be back doing electrical and plumbing.
Monday, November 4th, 2013
4:16 pm
The Swedish Version of Floor Finishing, Part II
Yep, one should leave the house. Go away for weekend. Take a short vacation. Whatever. It's that strong.

Even with all doors to the rest of the house sealed, slowly but surely, the concentration of volatiles increased. I solved this to a great extent by adding positive pressure to the rest of the house. In my techno-hoard pile, I have a bunch of high efficiency large muffin fans - perfect for windows. Although the house sounds like a data center, the fans force enough fresh air in to keep the fumes contained in the kitchen, but not so much we freeze elsewhere in the house.

The floor does look really, really good. The 3rd and last coat was applied Saturday, and after 48 hours, the odor is down at least 99.9%. Enough that it doesn't bother me.

Would I do it again? Tough question. Maybe.

Should *you* use it? If you can't flee, no. If it is the middle of winter, no. There is a potential upside - if you have any sort of a pest problem (whatever the pest), this would do a dandy job of eliminating the problem.
Sunday, November 3rd, 2013
9:52 am
The Swedish Version of Floor Finishing, Part I
We installed the kitchen floor, unfinished cherry. This strongly implies we must finish the floor at some point :-)

I had thought we'd do the water-based varathane, but Anita decided we should do a two part, acid cured finish know as the "Swedish process". Why they call it that, I don't know, but I suspect someone decided that if the Swedish do things to fish that involve industrial chemicals, they should have a floor finishing process named after them. Or maybe the Finns were tired of the Swedes making bad flooring puns.
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Wednesday, September 11th, 2013
5:01 pm
A Mid-Week Kitchen Update
Final hookup for the prep sink. Who would think the promise of a working sink could be so exciting!

Pressurized water lines. Looks good. Turn on faucet. No leaks, but low pressure. Wood shavings in pressure reducer. Shavings removed. Now running strong. No leaks on drain, but time for a full test. Fill the sink up to the top, and release the drain plug. Drains like a champ, but wait, it's leaking. Doh!
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Monday, September 9th, 2013
4:37 pm
Another Week, A Little Closer
Most of the prep sink is complete. There's a long way from roughed-in to complete, at least from a quality perspective. For those of you who have had professionals install a kitchen, did they locate the holes perfectly, or do they rely on escutcheon/plates to hide the water line, drain, and electrical penetrations?
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Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013
3:12 pm
Yet Another Kitchen Update
This past weekend was another antisocial one - spent hanging the upper cabinets.

A whole long weekend to hang upper cabinets! Outrageous. Those workers are too slow :-)
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