Happiness. Short-term, stupid, self-interest.

Home Renovation – The Point of No Return

Spring 2006

The point of no return… you see, moving the patio door would create that huge hole in the side of my house and force the project to be far enough along come the Fall so that the house was sealed from the outside and the room was heated.

In order to do that, I needed to:

  • Install an interior door between the new room and the old (to keep out the summer heat and humidity)
  • Mount the electrical boxes for outlets, lighting, switches and a ceiling fan
  • Run the electrical and speaker wire
  • Insulate the walls
  • Insulate the ceiling
  • Install an insulated floor
  • Insulate all the other cracks and holes
  • Hang sheetrock
  • Tape and mud the sheetrock
  • Install the gas stove which includes building a hearth, running a gas line, running thermostat wire, chimney, and installation of the stove itself.

Plus, a hundred little other things not including any “devils” that are guaranteed to show up.

It wasn’t the work that scared me so much as to the expenses I saw coming up to get us there. And worse, I didn’t have a plan for it all; just the patio door. I could have (should have) spent more time between December 05 and March 06 coming up with a plan, but instead…


However, my wife was all gung-ho on moving forward and I wasn’t about to miss a chance for motivation and progress, so we turned another corner in the project and moved ahead. (It wasn’t until the Fall when she realized the full impact of this step)




I couldn’t take this summer off. I had to keep moving and I needed my three things:

  1. Time
  2. Materials
  3. A plan

March 26, 2007 Posted by | Home Improvement | Leave a comment

Porch Project – Cruising

{The continuing saga of the Porch Project}

November 2005

I was cruising at this point because I had not yet run into many “devils.” I even had a plan for the siding. You see, reusing old material was part of the plan to save some money. Thus far, I was able to reuse many of the 4×4 posts from the original construction, plus a ton a of 2×4’s. (by the way, you can click on any of these photos to see it at 640×480)






I planned on saving the old siding and re-using all of it but I later realized there wasn’t going to be enough; a minor “devil”. But, after learning new skills at aluminum siding, I learned how easy vinyl siding was to put up. (The trick is getting your starting furring perfect and level)



Reusing the sliding glass door was also in the plan. It is a great door and probably worth $1500; I like it better than the new Andersen I have in my kitchen. But it was in November of 2005 that I got to the point where I needed the the door to be moved to the outside wall, but I knew very well that I would never have the floor and ceiling insulated before the cold weather moved in. That would leave a 6’ x 7’ hole in the side of my house exposed to upstate NY winter temperatures. I made the call to cover up with a tarp the last side and wait until the thaw of spring to face another step that would bring us deeper into the project and another point of no return; one with a simple deadline of next winter.


March 19, 2007 Posted by | Home Improvement | Leave a comment

Top 20 Reasons Why Home Theater Beats the Movie Theater Hands Down

Also known as, the “The Top 20 reasons Hollywood should embrace, not shun, the evolution and increasing pervasiveness of Home Theaters”

  1. Price – Renting, and even owning content, is cheaper than theater tickets
  2. Picture quality – Relative to where you are sitting, home screens are just as big and the newer technology of today’s plasmas, LCDs and projection based TVs are brighter and more vivid than a movie theater’s
  3. Rewind if you missed something or if you want to see it again
  4. Skip the advertisements
  5. No cell phones
  6. No chatter – Or, if there is annoying chatter, you don’t feel as bad when you tell them to shut up (see also #3)
  7. Make it social – Invite your friends for free
  8. Watch what you want – Including TV shows and other media, like home videos
  9. Watch when you want
  10. Enjoy video games in all their glory
  11. No dressing up, parking, lines and other hassels
  12. Control the volume
  13. Comfier seats, front and center
  14. Climate control
  15. Better food choices
  16. A popcorn and a soda doesn’t cost $12
  17. Enjoy an alcoholic beverage
  18. Pause to use the restroom
  19. Super Bowl Parties – Or, “Survivor”, “24”, “Lost”, or whatever party floats your boat
  20. If a hot sex scene gets you and your spouse in the mood, who’s to stop you? (see also #3)

Reasons why the movie theater is better

  1. Get away from kids/parents
  2. A nice home theater requires a healthy investment
  3. … I’m hard pressed to come up with more…

March 15, 2007 Posted by | Home Theater, Movies, TV | 7 Comments

What’s in your Toolbox?

Three things in my toolbox (other than tools)

  1. Bottle opener
  2. Metal BBQ skewer
  3. Lipstick

The bottle opener is obvious. The skewer is your basic multitasker because you don’t have another tool like it. You might use it to fish something, you might use it as pry bar, or you might use it… well when ever. A screwdriver could be too short or the handle will get in the way. There just isn’t an in-between tool that is both very long and sturdy.

Anyone want to guess on the lipstick?

March 14, 2007 Posted by | Home Improvement | Leave a comment

Far Cry

Listen to Far Cry, by Rush, right now!

Far Cry Lyrics (lyrics by Peart)

Pariah dogs and wandering mad men
Barking at strangers and speaking in toungues
The ebb and flow of time and fortune
Electrical changes are charging up the gun


It’s a far cry from the world we thought we’d inherit
It’s a far cry from the way we thought we’d share it
You can almost feel the current flowing
You can almost see the circuits blow

In one day i feel i’m on top of the world
and the next it’s falling in on me
I can get back on
I can get back on

One day i feel i’m ahead of the wheel
and the next its rollin over me
I can get back on
I can get back on

Whirlwind life of the faith and betrayal
Rise in anger fall back in retreat

Slow degrees on the dark horizon
Full moon rising looks ever at your feet


(chorus 2)
It’s a far cry from the world we thought we’d inherit
You can almost see circle growing
You can almost feel the planets flowing

One day i feel i’m on top of the world
and the next it’s falling in on me
I can get back on
I can get back on

One day i feel i’m ahead of the wheel
and the next its rollin over me
I can get back on
I can get back on

One day i fly through a crack in the sky
and the next its falling in on me
I can get back on
I can get back on

I can get back on
I can get back on

1. Far Cry
2. Armor & Sword
3. Workin’ Them Angels
4. The Larger Bowl
5. Spindrift
6. The Main Monkey Business
7. The Way The Wind Blows
8. Hope
9. Faithless
10. Bravest Face
11. Good News First
12. Malignant Narcissism
13. We Hold OnTour dates coming soon!

March 13, 2007 Posted by | Music | 2 Comments

Battlestar Galactica

{This is a response to a comment I received, but thought it was worth an entry as well} 

To be honest, BSG season 1 started off ok, but the last 4 espisodes were quite dull. I really enjoyed the one where Starbuck got shot down. (I won’t say anymore to avoid spoilers)

I continue to hear how great the show is, so I will keep watching. I fear that the whole premise will be based on a guessing game of who is really a Cylon, which does keep things interesting, but I will quickly get bored if it is 90% of the show all the time.

I’m a fan of “24”, where wondering who are the real bad guys is part of the show, but that is only 10% of the show. It also has a lot of intense action, a great story (with some suspension of disbelief) and other character development.

My wife has so far stayed with me on BSG, but warned me that a couple more episodes where she ends up dozing off and I’ll be on my own. (I have to admit, I was dozing on a couple as well) I also heard that season 3 starts to get really “dark” which I know my wife will not like. Of course, she may keep watching anyway. She is watching the last season of Alias and says it is pretty bad, but keeps watching that as well.

Please comment, but no spoilers, please!

March 13, 2007 Posted by | TV | 1 Comment

Home Renovation – The Devil is in the Details

October 2005

Something you will often hear me say is, “the devil is in the details.” You see, it is easy to say, well, we can just run a wire there, or, we will just re-use the old material. But, when you actually get to that point you realize how difficult your initial thought will be to actually implement. This requires you to start thinking ahead about how your decision now will impact the next step, but it is difficult.
For instance, while framing, I just figured I’ll be able to run speaker and electrical wires over the door and around the corner to be able to get all the way around the room. But then to realize after taking down the old siding that there is no physical way to go above door without ripping out the entire framing and header. Not to mention that speaker wire and electrical wire should not be within 12 inches of each other if run in parallel. (the picture below shows a hint of my new solution which was to run conduit up into the attic and back down… but that is only a partial solution, and jumping ahead)


It is just a continuously changing plan, but the plan isn’t scrap. As a matter of fact, you can’t change the plan if you don’t have one, and you can’t get started without one.
I didn’t document all the “devils” I came across, primarily because when I ran across them, I was hell-bent on correcting the issue as fast as possible to get back on track.

This kind of thing happened A LOT over the course of the project, but at this point I had my plan, materials, and a plan, and things were going pretty smooth and I was cruising…



March 12, 2007 Posted by | Home Improvement | 1 Comment

Porch Project – Really Serious

Fall of 2005

Doing this project I came up with a motto, “to make progress you just need two things, materials and a plan” Without both, you are at a stand still. Seems obvious. Something also to note about the plan is that it will always be changing; but, even though it is destined to change, that doesn’t mean you can’t ignore it. You have to start with the end in mind and make a plan to get there. As you travel on your journey, the plan will change because of things you forgot to think about, or just because you changed you mind. But the reason you need to have the plan there is so you know what you are changing; and you can’t get started without it.

There is one more thing you also need when doing it yourself…. Time.

I really enjoy working on the porch, as long as there are no deadlines to meet and I can just take my time. It is good work, even fun, though there are always the frustrating details.

So, with a summer much enjoyed, I had the time and materials to truly get serious. I kept hearing that quote from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, “Yes! Get on with it!” It was tough punching out the first window because it marked a point of no return. But what the heck…




The Paslode made a lot of this go much faster. If you are considering framing even one room, it is worth the money – don’t say I never told you.

And I cruised through much of this, as I had a plan on paper and the materials to execute. But, the devil is in the details…




March 5, 2007 Posted by | Home Improvement | Leave a comment

What This Guy’s Playing – March 2007

March 2007 – Spring is Around the Corner

Most of my time lately has been spent working on “the porch project.” I’m enjoying the work, but frustrated with the planning and details. So instead, I’ll be cleaning the basement which is huge, but at least it is mindless.

Video Games

    Now Playing

  • Barely Anything – I never finished my replay of Half-Life 2; I’ve jumped in to play a little more Burnout 2 (I found unlocks I didn’t unlock), I’ve made a couple TrackMania Sunrise tracks (I’m bored of TrackMania Nations), and wife and daughter are still addicted to Paper Mario, but they are almost done.
    On the Horizon

  • Demos – I probably won’t be playing much at all, though I’m looking for a demo of NeverWinter Nights 2 and Supreme Commander.


    Now Playing

  • Soccer/Gym – Time to get back in shape!
  • The kids are enjoying sledding and are sad to see the snow already starting to melt.

bsg_cylon_800.jpgOn the Big Screen

    Now Playing

  • Battlestar Galactica – I’m finally starting the series; so far, I like it a lot. My wife is still unsure.

Life should be fun… GO PLAY!
What are you playing?

March 1, 2007 Posted by | Gaming, Life in general, Sports, TV | 3 Comments