Sunday, May 31, 2009

What Weekend?

And another weekend goes by in a blur, as we try to pack too many things in.

Friday night was spent working on the spackling the bathroom walls, as upon closer inspection it wasn't up to my standards. Then Saturday was sanding that same spackling, cleaning up the bathroom afterwards, taping in preparation for painting and mowing the lawn. We also made it over to Paul & Laura's for Mia's first birthday party. Then today we put on a coat of primer and the first coat of regular paint. That just leaves one more coat of paint (hopefully), and we'll finally be able to put the bathroom back together.

In the free time it's been laundry, boxing up stuff we don't need laying around the house, selling some things on Craigslist, and getting a few other things ready for my trip to India that is coming up on Sunday.

Unfortunately I think work will be insanely busy this week as well, so the fun never stops around these parts.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Wallpaper

This weekend Linzy and I finally broke down and started working on repainting the last room in the house that has never been painted since we moved in quite a while ago. The room is our upstairs bathroom and there were a variety of problems with repainting the room.

The supposed reason was that I had vague plans of replacing the flooring with something better then the vinyl flooring that is currently in the room and since replacing the flooring would likely cause irreparable damage to the walls or at least the trim, I didn't want to paint the room twice. However as the years went on and I did nothing with the floor, that excuse started to get less believable and the real reason became clearer, we didn't want anything to do with trying to remove the very solidly attached wallpaper border in the room.

Well now that we are very seriously considering moving, the time has come to buck up and repaint the room. Thus we spent all day on Monday working on removing the wallpaper and remembering exactly why that job just might be the most frustrating job in the entire world.

I hate wallpaper. Not necessarily just removing it, but even the look of it, and while we were looking for a home the first time I refused to consider buying more then one house because it had full-wall wallpaper in several rooms. Our current house had just two thing wallpaper borders and I still refused to have anything to do with removing one of them.

As far as I can tell, there is no good way to remove wallpaper, even with a steamer, you still have to deal with all of the glue and the inevitable ripped drywall afterwards. We can put a man on the moon and do all sorts of other crazy things, I'm not sure why no one has figured out a way to make wallpaper that actually comes off the fricking wall.

At this point all of the wallpaper is removed, but there is still one more coat of touch-up spackling, primer, and then two coats of paint before the project will be finished. I can only hope that the next owners appreciate our efforts.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Time Warp

I was reading the New York Times site today (via the awesome article skimmer) and saw an article on the Discovery channel's Time Warp show.

A month or two ago I stumbled onto Time Warp by accident while exercising one weekend. After whatever show I was watching on DVR finished, Time Warp happened to be on and caught my interest. The episode I watched was "Will it Blend?" which had all sorts of entertaining slow-motion high-speed camera work involved.

I'm not sure exactly what was so fascinating about watching things in really, really slow motion, but I found it interesting. The example given in the New York Times article, where they demonstrate how a single drop of water shatters into multiple smaller drops when it collides with a pool of water, is a perfect example. I would never have guessed that happens, even if it does make sense that surface tension would be insufficient to keep the drop of water together on impact.

I haven't followed up to watch the show more often, but I did think it was a pretty cool concept and reading through the episode guide they seem to have found interesting things to film. I'm not sure how they are going to manage more then a few seasons, but it is probably worth checking out at least once if you are interested in seeing minute details of how something happens.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Last Minute

Last night we left the window in the bedroom open and so early this morning I woke up really cold. Despite being cold, I wasn't sure if I could reach the blankets that were at the end of the bed, or if they had fallen off the foot of the bed over night. After debating for a second, I determined that I wasn't near cold enough to want to get out of bed and throw a blanket on the bed. But I did see that one of the blankets was still just barely hanging onto the end of the bed.

So I sat up, grabbed the blanket and snuggled back down to go back to sleep. As I turned over to fall back into deep sleep, I glanced at the clock and realized that it was exactly one minute before my alarm was going to go off.

Thus I only got to enjoy my new cocoon of warmth for exactly 10 minutes (one minute, plus snooze). And that was pretty much how my entire day went today.

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Some Day I'll Finish That Project

DSC_3577Three years ago, shortly after Shawn and I finished staining my deck (myself, as opposed to paying someone else to do it) one of my neighbors started dismantling his deck. Actually what he did was remove all traces of railing from the deck (which is about 6-8 feet off the ground).

At first I assumed it was some sort of plan to make refinishing it easier, so that he could work on the railings without a ladder and then quickly stain the deck flooring. But then the weeks started going by and there was no further progress. Then the weeks became months and then seasons.

Every time we have people over, inevitably multiple people ask what my neighbor is doing with his death trap of a deck. And, of course, I have no idea. This is always followed up with a 'is that code?' question. Having a 6 foot tall deck with no railing, while I can't be sure, I'm pretty sure is not up to code. But since no one has ratted him out to either the city of his home insurance company, years went by without any sort of effort to put the railing back.

Until this weekend when he inexplicably started a project to remove all of the floor boards from the deck. He then took every single board into the backyard, chopped them up into three foot pieces, and tossed them haphazardly into a pile in the middle of his lawn.

I can only assume that he's currently enacting phase 2 of his master plan to ensure someone plummets to serious injury from his deck, as apparently merely lacking railing was not enough. But a deck without floorboards, now that's virtually guaranteed to cause someone injury.

In the event that he's not looking to cripple his children or his visitors, I assume he is challenging my other neighbor's one-full-year for redoing a single flower bed record for slowest home improvement project and is replacing the cedar deck with some sort of maintenance-free decking. Not that he really did any maintenance on the old deck.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Risk Adverse

I was talking with our mortgage broker the last few days getting information for eventually moving and one of the things I was asking about was the risk ratios that are allowed for loans these days. The numbers I had were from early 2001 and so I assumed they had changed.

Back then, your mortgage (possibly mortgage+escrow depending on who you asked) was theoretically supposed to be <28% of your gross monthly income, and the total of all of your debts was supposed to be <36%. When we bought our first house, I scoffed at those percentages as ridiculous in terms of actually being able to sustain paying 36% of your gross income to fixed expenses each month. So irrespective of what was 'allowed' we went with something cheaper, and that was still plenty hard to afford the first year (when we bought all kinds of stuff to fill up the house).

Anyways, so I thought I would check in on how these numbers had changed with the banks supposedly spooked to loan anyone money these days. And apparently the desired top number is somewhere north of 43% for combined debts. Which boggles the mind.

If that is with stricter lending practices in place, what was it when money was 'free'?

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Recycling

Tonight I was working on cleaning the house up and one of the things that has been cluttering up the office for the past six months is my old, mostly working monitor. I had been meaning to try to sell it for cheap on Craigslist, but that seems like a lot of hassle for $10.

So, given that it is a Dell, the backup plan was to use their free recycling program to send it to them. The program seems pretty good, but it requires shipping the monitor which is a 19 inch CRT Trinitron, so it weighs a million pounds and is quite large. And I don't have a box that is anywhere near big enough that I would want to try to pack the monitor safely in. Other then requiring a box, the program seems pretty decent, including free shipping and pickup by FedEx.

Being lazy though, I don't want to have to go through getting a box, so I think I will go to Best Buy instead. They will also take the monitor for $10 if I bring it in to any store. You also get a $10 gift card in return, which I'm sure Linzy will confiscate and add to her laptop fund. But $10 seems well worth not having to do anything except drive the monitor a few miles up the road.

It is much easier to get rid of electronics now then it used to be. I still wish someone would take hard drives and shred them for you. No one wants that kind of liability though, I suppose.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Heat Wave

I don't really have anything to post today. Linzy and I spent the evening working outside in the nice warm weather, trying to get her annuals planted and some of the landscaping cleaned up for the summer. Tonight I had my normal meetings with my team members in India, and so the end result is that I didn't have any time to come up with a story to tell.

It is interesting how warm 90 degrees feels after months of much cooler temperatures, and also strange it is to be that warm now after it was 38 and bitterly windy as recently as Saturday. I mean, people were wearing winter hats and jackets last weekend and now the pools were out in force. Just crazy.

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Movies: Star Trek

As I mentioned yesterday, on Sunday evening Linzy and I went to see Star Trek. Both of us thought the movie was quite good.

Perhaps surprisingly I was never really a fan of the original Star Trek. Next Generation, of course, but not the original. Despite this I did enjoy the movies (even numbered ones, at least). However despite not really liking the original show I did like the characters and so the latest movie was very satisfying.

I enjoyed seeing another take on how the characters all met and came together, and really liked the updated Enterprise bridge, space ships and equipment. I can't believe how much Sylar looks like Spock, it is borderline creepy. The movie had a ton of action which kept things exciting and despite the heavy use of time travel in the plot I didn't think the story line was particularly hard to follow.

I am sure that true Trek fans are all up in arms about the lack of continuity with the original series, but I thought that they captured the spirit of the show and made an entertaining movie. I am looking forward to any sequels they make.

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Spur of the Moment

We had a busy weekend this weekend.

The garage sale Friday and Saturday was a pretty good success, with the girls making pretty close to $500 between the three of them. It ended up to be a bit of work, including the clean-up on Saturday, and I also found time to do some chores around the house that had been lingering for a while. Then Saturday evening Linzy and I went over to my parent's house to celebrate Linzy's birthday, Mother's Day, and my Mom's birthday. We had a great time there talking about some of the things going on and what we've all been up to lately.

On Sunday I got in a bike ride in the morning and then we went to go look at a new house that is being built nearby which we stumbled on randomly and realized that while it is exactly what we would want, we disappointingly aren't even close to being ready to move. I had been targeting September, but it looks like we will need to get our act together. Unfortunately the list of things to spiff up in the house prior to a sale will take several weekends of hard work, something that we won't have available until July.

Sunday afternoon we went to Megan's first birthday party and had fun talking with Dan and Nikki and their family. Megan did her one-year-old duty and dutifully got just covered in birthday cake, including getting some between her toes. After the party, we went to see Star Trek which was great.

This week will be spent hurriedly trying to get the house cleaned up in time for the weekend.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

For Sale - Cheap

Almost exactly two years ago Linzy had a moderately successful garage sale. In the intervening years the effort required for a minor sum of money has been fresh in our minds and so I've been able to take my preferred method of getting rid of stuff: donating it to Goodwill.

This year, however, Linzy and two friends decided to have a garage sale, so for the past week Linzy has been busy getting things together for the sale. Lots of things. Multiple vehicles full, in fact.

Tonight we were over at Paul & Laura's house getting everything setup and the amount of stuff that people got together to put in the sale is pretty amazing. Even more so if you look at all the stuff we still have in the house that almost didn't make the cut.

Hopefully the combination of three houses worth of stuff will provide enough variety to generate some traffic and interest in the sale.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Movies: Wolverine

Two weekends ago Linzy and I went to go see the new Wolverine movie. I'm a pretty big Wolverine fan and Linzy loves comic book movies, so it was high on our list of things to see right away. Linzy really liked it and I thought it was pretty good.

The movie was about what I was expecting. It was entertaining in an action movie sort of way, certainly not Oscar material but probably not quite as bad as the reviews make it out to be. I enjoyed getting to see backstory on Wolverine, even if it was blatantly inconsistent with the comics (which I did not regularly read when I was younger).

There was plenty of action to keep things moving and lots of special effects. In short it was a pretty enjoyable movie and probably worth seeing on the big screen. Next up is Star Trek, though I am not sure when we will find the time to go see it.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Mutant

DSC_3540Last weekend while Larry and I were working on recovering the ball stuck in a tree, Linzy was roaming the woods near her parent's house. She stumbled across two antlers within a few feet of each other a little ways back from her parent's leeching field.

The interesting part was that though the antlers were a left and right, they weren't the same number of points. One side was a four-point and the other side was a three-point. The base size was very similar, and since they were found within a few feet of each other it seemed like they might have come from the same deer. Except that it would have been a mutant deer with mismatched horns.

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Larry tried to get Pippen to search out the other missing antlers to prove they were from separate deer, but Pippen was more interested in searching out and trying to eat junk from the woods.

So we'll never know if Larry has mutant deer living in his woods. Until some day when he sees one teleporting around, or baring its adamantium claws.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Overzealous

DSC_3473This weekend Linzy and I went up to her parent's for Mother's day, and Linzy and her brother's birthdays. It was a busy weekend, with a Sironen family birthday party, Mother's day activities and a number of other family activities to take part in.

It was fun to spend some time with Linzy's family and we also had a little bit of time on Sunday to relax and spend outside enjoying reasonably nice weather. Linzy and I spent a bit of time playing a few games of Ladder Ball which, much to Linzy's frustration, I was winning consistently. At one point after I had wrapped up a match and still had one throw left to waste, I was fooling around and trying to throw the balls really high in the air and get them to come down on the ladder and cancel out one of Linzy's throws.

Unfortunately I got overzealous and threw way up into a tree back in the woods. And then we couldn't get the balls back down, and didn't have a ladder anywhere near tall enough to reach them. The tree happened to be mostly dead, so then Larry and I were going to cut it down. Except that it started to fall the wrong direction, so we had to winch it to another tree to get it to fall back into the woods rather then towards the house.

But then the cut tree bounced off another tree and got stuck in the branches, ending up threatening the garage. So we ended up having to cut down another half-dead tree in order to get it safely away from the garage and down to the ground.

Linzy thought all of this was really hilarious, once she got over her anger at me for being an idiot and getting the ball stuck in the first place. I felt terrible that we were cutting down trees (even if they were dead and scrubby), but Larry and Sandy both seemed glad just to get the woods cleared a little so the smaller maples could grow instead.

Linzy, getting ready for a throw
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The red ball stuck on a branch in the woods
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You'll probably need to go to a larger size, but the balls just to the right of the green ever green clump at the top of the photo. You can see Larry at the bottom getting ready for cutting
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"This isn't really going as planned"
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Eventually we were successful and the ladder ball set was retired for the day.
DSC_3482


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Thursday, May 07, 2009

Manager

I had an eye appointment after work today and so stopped at a local fast food place to get dinner. There I had a very strange conversation with the kid running the cash register:

Him: Hi
Me: Hi
Him: You look like you work at Culver's?
Me: What?
Him: Culver's. You know, your shirt [ A fairly bright blue polo with a thin white stripe around the collar and sleeve bottoms ]
Me: Really? They have blue polo shirts?
Him: Yeah, or maybe they're white. I'm not sure.
Me: Ok
Him: Plus you look like a manager.
Me: What? A Culver's mananger?
Him: No, but you've got dress pants.
Me: What?
Him: Yeah, you look like a manager
Me: Well, good to know if things go badly I can always fall back on managing a Culver's
Him: You don't have a job? Why are you dressed up?

I don't even know where to start.

As far as I can tell, at least by the website, Culver's outfits do not appear to involve any blue polo shirts. I'm also not sure what the deal was with the association of dress pants with managing.

But it did give me something to chuckle about while I was eating my dinner.


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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Losing Ground

Today was a tough day at work for a variety of reasons that I don't talk about here. But I can share this little indication of how the day went:

Last night as I was falling asleep I realized that there were a few things at work that had slipped through the cracks and I had not taken care of in the past few days. So when I got into the office in the morning I wrote four items down on my to-do list to cover those items and one other that had come up during my calls with India.

When I left the office a little over 10 hours later I took home that same todo list now sporting 14 items. None of those 14 were completed, and all four original items were still on the list. That's productivity.


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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Too Cheap

Prior to this evening, I would have claimed that there was no such thing as inedible pizza. Certainly there was better tasting, and less-good tasting pizza, but not really 'bad' pizza. Even the bottom rung around here, the Totino's Party Pizza, was something that I have eaten on many occasions. In fact, it used to be one of my favorite after school snacks when I was in High School. Tonight, however, I was proven wrong.

Linzy is at a conference for the rest of the week and was nice enough to leave me some dinners for the week. Tonight's was a frozen pizza and salad, except that it wasn't a normal pizza. It was a 47 cent (seriously) generic pizza from Cub. And not just any generic pizza, but an imitation Totino's Party Pizza.

It was not good. Which I guess, I should have guessed given that it was based on the bottom of the frozen pizza chain and that it cost 47 cents. But the picture on the box looked reasonable, so I had hopes for it.


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Monday, May 04, 2009

Catch-up

We had a planned outage at work this weekend and apparently I still need to catch up on my sleep, because I'm really tired today and have been all day. The strange thing is that it was basically complete by Saturday evening and even on Friday night/Saturday morning I got six hours of sleep, so there isn't an excuse for still being tired two days later.

Except maybe getting old, or lazy, I guess. Either way, I'm heading to bed early tonight!

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Sunday, May 03, 2009

Corner Office

For the last month or so my random entertainment on Sunday mornings is to read the Corner Office series on the New York Times website. I've been interested enough to actually sign up for a website account so that I could setup an alert to e-mail me the link to the story each week. Now it appears they have setup a topic for the stories so you can use an RSS feed but originally it wasn't an option.

The Corner Office series is interviews with CEOs about their background, how they hire people, their career histories, how they run meetings, stuff like that. One of the things that I find interesting is how similar some of the answers tend to be, but at the same time the fairly different backgrounds and styles that the CEOs describe.

I have no plans for being a CEO but I'm still somewhat interested to see how senior executives think and operate.

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