Roses in our Yard

Upon moving into our new house last year, we knew there was work to do to the back yard. As I mentioned in earlier blogs, the yard was a mess when we bought it. It was clear that the owners spent nothing to maintain, let alone spruce up the house, and the yard was a dump. We quickly engaged the neighbor who runs a landscape business to clean it up, but it took almost a year to get to a good state.

ground eye view of our rosesWe did replace the two fences that were about to fall down, and fixed the part of the yard that never dried up, but we needed a little color.

There were several rose bushes along the back fence, and we added a few to fill in the gaps. One thing about roses, and one of the key appeals to them, is that they are almost impossible to screw up. Water them semi regularly, trim them (WAY) back every winter, spray for aphids, and they just grow.

loyaltyEasy peasy.

And then they bloom.

We also found this wicked cool garden statue (or gnome). It is a meditating dog, and it’s title is “Loyalty”. It is already in our yard, watching over our plants.

It is a fitting addition to our back yard.

Not going to happen – Comcast Solar

Over the last week, I have had three calls from Comcast. Trying to sell me on their "Energy" program.

Apparently they want to install solar cells on my house, pay me $1,200 for the privilege of doing this, and save like 20% on my electric bill.

Asking them who "owns" the panels brought about a lot of hemming and hawing. Apparently I grant them access to put them on my roof, and to feed into the power grid, and I get some minimal credit for the electricity. But I don't own them.

From the hassle I had to go through selling my house in Tucson, even though we did own those panels, me thinks that having something owned by Comcast on my house would be a very bad idea.

Look, it is bad enough that I have to use these wads of fuck for my Internet and TV, as scummy as they are, but to trust them to put photovoltaic panels on my house?

Not in this fucking century.

Mail Theft

A few months ago, we moved into a new (for us at least) house in South San Jose. After a bit (ok, a LOT) of work it was very home-y. One of the charms was that instead of a central mailbox shared by a block of residents, the mail delivery is personalized here. The carrier walks it up to your door.

How quaint.

Last Friday, late afternoon, I hear the doorbell ring. I opened the door to see a Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Deputy on my stoop.

After madly thinking what the hell I did to draw his attention, he proceeded to tell me that they apprehended an individual who had stolen our mail, in particular, those “convenience” checks sent by your credit card company.

One of the checks had been torn off. This dirtbag had either passed it off, or tried to pass it off.

Motherfucker. So now I have to cancel that card, and have a fraud alert on my account (fortunately, it hadn’t cleared).

Apparently this guy had some other lady’s checkbook, and had written a check to himself for cash, as well as meth and heroin in his possession.

House Journal – Failed Project

House Journal – Failed Projects

Yesterday started innocuously enough, a trip to Lowes to get a few items we needed, and to pick up an under-sink water filter. There was a filter when we moved in, an old GE unit, that was so old, that filters were no longer made, and old enough that I couldn’t find cross referenced replacements. Perfect time to upgrade to a reverse osmosis system.

A little more challenging to install than a simple cartridge filtration system, a reverse osmosis system will have a solvent stream (drinking water), and a solute stream (the stuff you remove) that will need to be handled (disposed of). This requires a connection to the drain, and therein lies the cause of my failure yesterday.

As I mentioned, there was a filtration system that was so old, filters were not readily available. It was probably installed when the last owners remodeled their kitchen, 20 years ago. So it is safe to assume that the sink and the plumbing is 20+ years old.

Step 1 in the installation was to insert the waste drain in the sink drain. Unfortunately, the P-trap holding nut was corroded solid. So, after removing the old filtration system, I was stymied at step one.

Foiled by a plumbing challenge.

Many years ago, I would have made multiple trips to Lowes, bought tools, cursed, banged my knuckles, and finally gotten it done. But in my old age (almost 50), I have learned that it is far better to pay the man (a plumber or handyman) and avoid the frustration.

Things I used to do myself but now just pay for:

  • Plumbing – except for minor things, it is far cheaper (in time and money) to just pay a pro.
  • Electrical work – I will still replace a socket, or a switch, but anything that requires conduit, romex, or cutting a hole in drywall? Pay the man.

I will still do most appliance repair though.

House Journal – New TV

I have been MIA lately, the move, unpacking, and some insane deadlines at work have meant that I had no time to write, but I will begin to rectify that.

With the move, the trusty Pioneer Plasma screen was showing its age. When we bought it in 2006, the LCD panels at the time sucked big tool. Side by side, there was no comparison, the plasma kicked their ass all over the playground.

It was a 42″ unit, and a solid performer, but it was input constrained, and while the picture quality was superb, it was a bit of a power hog.

With our new house, we knew we wanted something a bit larger (but not too large, as our viewing room was modest) with smart TV capability, and more HDMI inputs.

I looked long and hard at the 4K screens, but at the size we were interested in, 55″ it just wasn’t compelling. No real content (some netflix, and some DirecTV) and to get something with a good refresh rate, you need to drop about $2K.

Much browsing at Bestbuy, looking at the Samsung, LG and Sony panels in our range, and they were all good, and apart from the Sony, comparably priced. However, the Bestbuy sales droid pointed me at the Panasonc Bravia 55″. On clearance, and a size exclusive to Bestbuy, the screen was sweet. 240hz refresh rate, excellent colors, and a compelling price, I was sold.

Hanging it on the wall was a breeze, and our electricians made passthroughs for the cables, so it is almost clutter free.

Quality of the display is impressive. Bluray movies “pop”. I tossed in The Matrix, and Casino Royale, and the quality is superb.

I haven’t explored much of the apps yet, but the Netflix app, built in (and a netflix button on the remote to boot) makes it super easy to watch streaming videos. Way better than the old way, firing up the Xbox, and using the app there. That takes about a minute and a half until you can begin watching. Now, about 20 seconds, and you are streaming.

Our Tivo hooked right up, and covers our DVR/live TV needs.

HD resolution, on the 55″, at the viewing distances we have is plenty good. I am not regretting the choice of not going to the 4K resolution. This thing is awesome.

And being a LED backlit display, this unit uses less than 1/4 the juice that the Plasma screen did.

We did donate the plasma screen, and it has a new home at one of our movers, I am sure it will continue to be a great screen, but we aren’t pining for it.