chris_gerrib: (Default)

Two nice things happened over the weekend.

Nice Thing #1

I got my carpets at the house cleaned.  I paid for a service, and three young guys showed up and in 90 minutes did what would have taken me all day.  They also got it done better than I would have.

Nice Thing #2

One of the “perks” of being on programming for a volunteer SF con is that, if the con is financially sound, you get your attendance fee back.  This is usually in the form of a check all by its lonesome in a cheap envelope.  Well, I got my check back from Capricon and it also came with a thank-you letter.  A generic “greetings, volunteers” letter to be sure, but it was the first actual thank-you I can recall receiving from a con.

chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
I'm back at work after an uneventful weekend. I finished a first draft of a short story for a potential anthology. Also, I broke down and called Allied Garage Door for my defunct opener. They said Saturday that they could if I wanted to fix the opener. I said no, get a new one, which will be installed Wednesday. In the meantime, we're having relatively dry and warm weather, so the car can sit out front.

I lead an exciting life.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
I arrived at my house last night to find that my garage door opener no longer opens the garage door. The motor runs but the chain doesn't move. Since the door can be opened manually, it's not a broken spring, but rather something in the opener. Were I a Heinlein-ian Competent Man, I'd pop the cover on the opener and replace the failed gear. I'm not, so I'm going to replace the opener and hire somebody to do the work.

Parenthetically, did you know that modern (last 20 years) garage doors do not have handles on them? To open manually, one must hold onto a hinge with one hand and pull down on the emergency lever with the other until you get the door up enough to get your hand underneath the door. It takes a bit of grip strength to do this, and it was performed by me last night in the rain. At least my door has a manual lock on the inside, but that comes with it's own set of challenges.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
My AC at my house runs and puts out some cold air, but was unable to pull the house below 75 degrees last night. Of course my parents are visiting as well. Yippee Kay Aye. (At least the repair guy will be in this morning.)
chris_gerrib: (Me)
Two pretty heavy storms rolled through Chicago last night. In my neck of the woods, the one window that hasn't been replaced yet sprung a small leak, and that was the extent of the damage. (The rain was being blown against the window as if I were in a giant car wash.)

Over the weekend, I was reviewing my travel plans for Worldcon. I was looking to see if I could squeeze in a jaunt across the Channel to see the D-day beaches. It doesn't look promising - the fastest option I saw involves taking the Eurostar train to Paris and backtracking to Bayuex. In short, I'd burn a day of travel to get there and another day getting to Ireland.

No Rotary today, because we're marching in the 4th of July parade Friday so I cancelled the meeting. Since I have writer's workshop tonight, this will allow me to get to the gym over lunch.

Dry Feet

Jan. 24th, 2014 10:16 am
chris_gerrib: (Me)
Plumbing problem fixed - it was a bad seal on the bolts connecting the tank to the seat.

Work-related crises continue.

Wet Feet

Jan. 21st, 2014 03:10 pm
chris_gerrib: (Me)
I got home last night and found a very small amount of water dripping down along the furnace flue. Not being able to find any other source of water after a fairly detailed search, I wrote it off as snow / ice melt from around the flue and called the association.

Then, as I was going to bed, I walked into my master bath barefoot and my feet got wet. The tank of my toilet was leaking, a very minuscule amount. I drained the tank and mopped up the small amount of water and went to bed.

Now I need to decide if I'm going to attempt a DIY repair or get somebody in.

ETA: Mom called (hi Mom!) and reminded me that I have a home warranty. Since I don't really have the time to futz with this anyway, I opened a claim.
chris_gerrib: (Me)

My blood pressure has been creeping up for years. About 2 years ago, when I finally decided to get off of my ass and exercise, we (my doctor and I) were hoping that the weight loss and exercise would lower my blood pressure. It did, marginally, if I took my blood pressure after a workout, but not consistently or nearly enough. We're talking a "normal" BP of 130 / 90 going to a 125 / 85 for a brief period.

So, the doctor put me on metoprolol. I had my 30-day followup, and now my blood pressure is 120 / 77, AKA "flat normal." I also don't get palpitations from coffee (yeah!). The only downside is that the drug makes me sleepy, so I take it in the evening. As my doctor (who's also on blood pressure meds says) "some people just have high blood pressure."


I mentioned that I needed new windows for my new house. The windows are in, mostly. One of the windows arrived and was too small for the hole, and my handyman needs to do various trim and paint work. He also needs to haul away some of the old windows. In short, work progresses, but a bit slower than I'd like.


In writing news, I'm editing the current WIP, and got to the first alien attack. In a previous draft, I had an attack on ships in space, but since my POV character was not in space, I had to create a POV character. But after the initial attack, said character had nothing to do, so I deleted him. Now I need to figure out how (and if I should) show the attack in space. Never a dull moment.


Jul. 30th, 2013 10:34 am
chris_gerrib: (Me)
Not the computer windows, the kind you have in your house. Or my house.

The windows I have in the new house are shot. One of the two in my bedroom doesn't open and the other one is creaky. Several other windows have problems, including blown seals. All of this was known when I made the offer, and factored into the price.

Now the problem is getting somebody to fix said windows. One firm was in last week, took measurements and called me with a price (pretty much in line with what I expected). But the written quote got eaten by their fax machine, and I need a written quote for the association. The other firm missed an opportunity to take measurements, and so we need to reschedule.

Remind me again how much I enjoy getting work done on houses. But, it must be done, and I knew going into this deal what would be involved.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
It was a fairly busy day yesterday at the new house. Various issues were addressed, to wit:

1) Wiring - the house had one (1) analog phone jack and two (2) cable jacks. Wiring guy came, and it looks like it will be too hard to change that, so I'll be going wireless phone and data.

2) Refrigerator - the previous owners left the refrigerator, which was an ice-and-water through the door model. The problem is that the water was not connected, as they hadn't ran a water line to it. Running the line is a non-trivial deal, but I've got my handyman on it.

3) Windows - when I bought the house, I noticed that the windows had blown seals and were the old wooden el-cheapo builder's model. So, I priced my offer on the assumption of having to replace the windows. I had one guy out for a quote, and more to follow.

4) Maid service - I use Merry Maids, and they had to come out for a quote and to set up the service.

5) Other tasks as assigned - more pictures were hung, and now I'm deciding if I'm going to buy some additional artwork and if so what.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
Over the weekend, I had an interesting problem with my garage door. On Sunday, I returned from running some errands, put my car in the garage, and hit the button to close the door, then went inside. A couple of minutes later I hear a mechanical whining noise coming from the garage. I go to the garage to find that my door is off the tracks, sideways and generally jammed half closed. Sufficiently half-closed to prevent me from getting the car out.

A neighbor tries to help me get it open, but we can't, so I come up with the great idea to take off a panel or two, thus allowing me to get the car out. I succeed in getting one panel (of four) off. I also succeed in getting myself crowned by the top panel. The resulting mess is shown below.
Fortunately, the only injury I sustain is to my dignity. I call my favorite handyman, and he comes out to take the door down so I can get my car out. I later contacted another neighbor who fixed the door for me. He got the entire door assembled and replaced nearly all the moving parts by himself in about two hours.

It pays to contact an expert - a lesson I painfully relearned this weekend.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
My new mattress came Saturday, so for the first time in a month I slept in the master bedroom. My construction guy has a few final clean-up items, including door knobs for the bedroom (it broke on him while he was inside, forcing him to cut the knob off), but the house is almost done. Just in time for me to fly out on business and then our annual Rotary weekend in Wisconsin. Such is life. Also, due to my on-the-roadedness, posting here may be light.

In other news, Pete's Fresh Market opened up a couple of blocks from my house. It's number nine of a small Chicago-area grocery chain. I did my regular weekend shopping there. As one would expect from a "fresh" market, they have a spectacular produce section, and a really impressive meat and deli section. They also have a large buffet area, where one can buy ready-to-eat stuff and eat there or take home.

What they lack is some of the stuff that I personally want in a grocery store. For example, the only "dark" pop they had in diet was Dr. Pepper. Their cookie selection was slim, as was their bakery. Now, Chicago is not short of grocery stores, so if you're running an independent operation, you need to differentiate yourself by providing stuff the big guys don't, so I get the marketing strategy. Unfortunately, I'm not a fan of making two grocery store runs, so we'll see how much business I end up giving Pete.


May. 8th, 2012 09:20 am
chris_gerrib: (Default)
I now have a fully-operational Death Star kitchen! Even better, the cleaning ladies come today, so several shovels of construction dust should depart in their wake. My house is almost back to normal!
chris_gerrib: (Default)
I was at Windy City Pulp and Paper Show over the weekend. It was rather a bust, full of lookie-lous and lacking in buyers. When you see the same guy taking his third loop through the show without having bought anything, that's not a good sign. I didn't sell anything, and Greg Ketter of DreamHaven, whose table I was at, told me he was selling at half the rate he wanted. So, unless Greg had a booming Sunday, he's not happy.

The Great Drain of Gerrib

I give you a new modern marvel, the Great Drain of Gerrib:

chris_gerrib: (Default)
Just after midnight Sunday, it rained in Chicago. Around 1 AM, it started to rain in my bedroom. By 4 AM, the drywall ceiling had collapsed. I called in Servpro, and they've been removing damaged drywall and flooring ever since. The reason for all of this? A poorly-designed roof drain.

Consider the picture below:

The problems are obvious to me. First, because of the elbow, the drain will clog. In a light rain, leafs and twigs will be washed into the scupper (the box, upper left) and drain down. But water will move slowly in the elbows, allowing some stuff to get hung up. Second, because of that bend, clearing the drain manually requires a flexible rod and considerable time.

Drains fail. My neighbor had a situation where the scupper rusted out. (Galvanized steel does rust, just more slowly.) However, if this were a straight line, it would clog less. If it were over the eaves instead of the bedroom, water flow from failures would be more likely to be kept on the exterior.

Poor design leads to poor results.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
As mentioned previously, my heat at my house doesn't work. Again. Here's the story, and if you don't want to learn about the ins and outs of electric forced-air heat*, stop reading. You've been warned.

What was replaced last week was the heating elements, all four of them. These are the parts that actually get hot, and are just like the wires in your toaster, except bigger. The heating elements are connected to four "hot posts," which feed electricity to the elements. The hot posts are connected to a pair of sequencers.

A sequencer is an electromagnetic switch, like the solenoid in your car's starter motor, that feeds power to the hot posts. Both of the sequencers are sticking open intermittently. So, sometimes I get two hot elements, sometimes all four, and sometimes none. The fix is to replace the sequencers.

The trick is to find the sequencers. I believe my heater (which is also forced central air) was installed in the 1980s. They don't make this type of unit any more, nor do they make spare parts for it. Thus, finding parts involves calling around and seeing who's got a dusty box in the back of a warehouse. I'm not thrilled about this, but it beats a whole new unit.

* My subdivision was built in the 1960s, when "the wave of the future" was all-electric. There is no natural gas service to my area.


Oct. 28th, 2010 11:29 am
chris_gerrib: (Default)
Or rather, lack of same. I'm working from home because I had to wait for the HVAC guy to come and tell me why my house won't get above 68 degrees when the heat's on. He just left, and (to nobody's surprise) one of the electrical heating elements is out. It's a special order, so he'll have to come back for an installation.

Fortunately, the weather's not supposed to be that cold, so I'll survive.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
The past 24 hours have been devoted to taking care of buildings. Last night, I fixed my busted toilet fill valve. I replaced it with a valve that the box proclaimed as "America's Best Selling Valve." It was also the cheapest valve to be had at Home Depot, so I don't think we'll need Sherlock Holmes to figure out why that claim is valid. Actually, they had a "green," "eco-friendly" valve there for twice the money, but since I couldn't figure out why it was "green" I bought the el-cheapo.

Replacement proved to be easy enough, although the old genuine imitation rubber seals in the tank were holding together by sheer inertia. A previous occupant really liked that blue gunk you put in your toilet bowl tank. No, it doesn't hurt your pipes, but it does turn the rubber seals to black chalk. Well, now I have replaced the guts of all three toilets in my house - let's hope they hold for a while.

Today, I was all over the exterior and interior of one of the bank's buildings, including a jaunt up to the roof. The building in question is one of our older buildings, built in a Colonial style, and I've been having a laundry list of exterior maintenance done. Our contractor wanted to show me the work to date, and get authorized for various "oh by the ways" and "while we've got the scaffolding here we should" additional work. Yeah, it's more money for him, but it's cheaper to do it now then pay for somebody to come back later.

On a completely unrelated note, today is the 400th anniversary of the discovery of Manhattan Island and New York harbor. (Via Making Light)
chris_gerrib: (Me)
So, last night I'm standing in my "master bath" (think - 1960s master - barely big enough for a shower, a toilet and a sink) and I hear water running in the toilet. I lift the lid to investigate and see that the water level is just barely cresting over the overflow tube.

"How do you adjust the water level in the tank?" I wonder to myself. The tank has an old-style float valve, consisting of a black plastic ball on a metal rod. "I wonder if you can adjust the float?"

Well, as soon as I touch the float, the metal arm snaps off, and the water starts flowing rapidly. After a few very fervent expletives (deleted for your reading pleasure) I get the shutoff valve to move - first time it's done that since 1999 when I bought the house - and get the water to stop.

So now I get to replace the entire float valve assembly. I've done that before, twice, and it's not hard, but neither is it high on my list of fun ways to spend an evening. Since I have writers' group tonight and am planning to be out of town this weekend, I guess I know what I'm doing Wednesday night.

$237 later

Mar. 17th, 2009 09:19 am
chris_gerrib: (Default)
AAA Overhead Door sent out a guy this morning to replace my garage door springs. He got here around 8:15 and just left, having fixed the door. Yeah! Also, the remote door opener works, so I think I'll skip getting a new one.


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