Monday, August 28, 2017

Home Repairs are like Matryoshka Dolls

We have two major electrical issues with our house.  We knew about these issues when we bought the place and we did receive some monies to deal with them.  and that time has come.The first is the electrical panel is not up to code.  The second is the power line supply from the pole is too close to our deck.  Our deck should not have been built they way it is and likely did not have a permit.

At this point its' a Matryoshka Doll situation.  If we are going to change the panel we might as well upgrade to 200 amps.  But to do that means a bigger "pipe".  And the only option is to put it through the roof soffit because we have too many windows to simply move the wire, or so I was told. 

However, it took talking with 4 or 5 electricians to determine that "well code doesn't allow me to do that" really means "that's a lot more work and I'm going to make it cost prohibitive for you to do so".

Here's where things get a little murky.  For one thing, we don't know if we are going to be in this house for one more year or 10 more years.  If we are staying, I might seriously consider paying the extra money to have the panel and the pipe moved.  Except we aren't just talking a few hundred dollars more.  The work involved is such a headache that even if I find an electrician willing to do it, it won't be cheap. 

And then there is the paying for the work.  I've received quotes for the entire job ranging from $3k to $6k and most of these guys don't take credit cards or offer financing (except the $6k guy).  I thought I'd be cleaver and buy a panel upgrade from Angie's list and then get the same guy to do the rest of the work.  However, the guy I got told me it would be an additional $2800 to do the rest of the work, which puts me in a pickle.  I got a quote from someone who said they could do the whole job for $2600 including the panel.  So which guy is lying?

The guy I'm going with couldn't explain to me why the job is going to cost more than the other guy.  And the first guy isn't returning my calls to see what it would cost if I did the panel first, because why would he.

Jesus suggested that he simply install the 200 amp panel but leave the 100 amp service.  Then I could get whoever I want to do the rest of the work at a later time.  I'm going with this approach because it gets us further along.

The typical Angie's List panel install is $875 (allegedly marked down from $1100).  Panels cost about $100-200 at Home Depot.  I'm guessing you can buy more expensive ones but not not $1k more so the rest I assume is installation hours and some profit.  Assume $150/hr for an electrician.  I was told it will take about 5-6 hours for the panel installation.  There isn't a lot of profit involved so my guess is that this is a way to get into a customer home and get some other electrical work while you're there (i.e. the upgrade to the 200 amp service, the new lights I'm gonna have the guy install in the laundry room while he's there).

Thank you for reading and I hope you will comment below.  Please also do any and all of the following:

Follow Mysteries of Life on Twitter (@MysteriesOLife), Facebook or subscribe via email.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Last Friday of August

 In another month, it’ll be the equinox, then the journey to the Solstice, and then we start our trip back into the light.   We have had a relatively mild summer in the Midwest and I couldn't be happier about it.

The will turn 3 next month and we are planning a party.  The nice thing about kids this young, and I encourage all parents to do this, is they don't know the calendar or their birthday per se.  So we can celebrate it whenever it works for us.  As it turns out, we are planning to do so the weekend after their actual birthday because of schedules and such.

We have three battles we need to fight with the kids. 

  • pacifier
  • sleeping in their own  bed
  • potty training

Natasha is pretty much potty trained.  We have noticed a vast reduction in the amount of diapers and genie inserts we were going through.  Once Boris is finished, I should have enough to pay for the electrical upgrade.

Some time ago, the kids stopped sleeping in their cribs and always wanted to sleep with us.  i hacked their cribs into daybeds and that kept them interested for a few weeks and then the novelty was over.

I bought a bunk bed for the kids thinking that would please them, we even switched their room with the guest room.  No dice. 

Buy the good mattress as you will end up sleeping with one of them

Today my mom said she was going to "wash her hair, have another cup of tea" and then go home for a few hours.  90 minutes later she is still here, even though her hair is washed and her tea is drunk.  Of course i also ran out for a quick 30 minute errand and as I expected she wasn't going to leave while I was gone. 

I've flat out asked her not to be here when I WFH and every week its a different excuse for hanging around.  What is really incredible is she shoots herself in the foot by holding her ground.  She has errands and things she needs to do and being able to do them during the less traffic laden hours of 9-3 are optimal.  But when you waste half of that time just hanging around your son's house because you want to prove a point, it's hard to get everything done.

Thank you for reading and I hope you will comment below.  Please also do any and all of the following:

Follow Mysteries of Life on Twitter (@MysteriesOLife), Facebook or subscribe via email.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Same as it Never Was

If it has become apparently obvious, I don't do much writing here these days.  This should be no surprise since my bread and butter comes from the other site.  But I do like to put some personal stuff here for journal-archive purposes.

On Friday I had a decent Extra Curricular To Do (EXTD) list and was looking forward to knocking some stuff out.  Unfortunately the universe had other plans.  I got a call from daycare that Boris had Diarrhea and I had to come get him.  No sense in picking just him up so I went and brought both kids home after lunch just as they were getting ready for nap.

Natasha didn't want to sleep so she stayed up while Boris got two hours.  Then around 4, she crashed and I let her sleep for an hour.  This was a precursor of what was to come because this weekend we had events that meant skipping nap.

On Saturday Gemma was in town and someone from the old RCYA group hosted a cookout. 
While Gemma is aware that there is no love lost between me and most of that crew, she understandably values her convenience a bit more and having everyone be in one place is easier for her.  Since we had to miss her wedding last year, I figured it wouldn't kill me for one afternoon to hang out with these people especially since it is only 2-3 specific people and one of those didn't come.

That's not to say, if you knew what to look for, there wasn't something in the air.  The Krazy Guatemalan came up to me, shook my hand and said hello in a manner that was like "well lets get this out of the way".  So-Suede waited as long as he could and was the last person to acknowledge me.  Even his wife was friendlier and more welcoming.

It probably would have been more apparently awkward had I come by myself but luckily, with two toddlers you never have a dull moment.  So between managing them and catching up with everyone else, time moved quickly.  Gemma of course overbooked her day and had to leave around 3 to make her next event. 

We stayed for about a half an hour more. I wanted to talk more with the host and this would have been a good time since once half your party leaves, you can take a break.  But our kids were approaching meltdown moment so it was a good excuse to leave as well.

On Sunday we took them to their first White Sox game.  We did this with Katness because Sundays are family day and the tickets are cheap.  Unfortunately there was traffic so even though we left early, it took almost an hour to get to the ballpark and we missed the opening fireworks (saw them from the parking lot).  We did manage to stay until the start of the sixth inning before we decided it was a good time to leave.  We wanted to beat traffic and avoid large crowds of fans. 

Thank you for reading and I hope you will comment below.  Please also do any and all of the following:

Follow Mysteries of Life on Twitter (@MysteriesOLife), Facebook or subscribe via email.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Kid's first Cubs Game at Wrigley Field

To celebrate it's anniversary, my not so new company had an outing to the Cubs game the other day.  Because I was allowed to bring a guest and because kids under 2 get in free, I decided to make this our kids first (and perhaps only) Cubs game.  I'm not much of a go see the game in person type anymore.  Unless you pay a fortune, you can usually see the game better from your living room or even a sports bar, which is vastly cheaper.

But as this cost us nothing, except the $100 we spent on Cubs T-shirts for four, for the occasion,  I figured why not.  Especially since I knew we were not likely to spend more than a few innings there.  Nightingale was stressing because she forgot that I told her kids had to sit on our laps and our seats initially were not together.  They were three seats apart, which isn't the worst thing because even total strangers would probably switch with us and I have to believe most of the over 2,300 registered people from my office would as well.

Think about it, either the three people between us know each other or they don't.  Does person in seat two really care if they sit on the left side of these other two or the right?  It worked out even better because when we got to our seats there were plenty of open seats avialable, probably because all the youngins were still drinking free beers and watching the game from the pre-game reception at Brickhouse Tavern.  We took up the seats we needed but were prepared to move if needed.  Alas that never happened because we only stayed for 2 innings.

I should note that when we were asked to request our tickets, I did ask for two, as I'm sure most people did.  I don't know why they didn't group people together, i can only imagine something "fell apart with the planning-implementing phase of this task".  When I went to pick up the tickets, the line was long and I went on the last day.  But since the tickets were free, and the firm bought me beer and appetizers, I am not complaining.

Katness, who coincidentally was at the game the next day for free as part of a work function, has invited us to see the White Sox for Family day in a couple of Sundays.  This isn't free but is a reduced cost so we can now check off 2 of the 5 major Chicago Sports teams.  As big of a Bears fan as I am, I will likely not take my kids to Soldier Field for a long, long time because football fans are assholes.
Thank you for reading and I hope you will comment below.  Please also do any and all of the following:

Follow Mysteries of Life on Twitter (@MysteriesOLife), Facebook or subscribe via email.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Back in the Day: The Octogon

One of the places I use to go to drink and dance in the 90s was a dive bar called Octagon (2483 N Clark).  I suspect it was one of those bars that put up shop when the neighborhood was less than desirable and eventually got taxed out of existence once the final stages of gentrification arrived.

I've never really liked clubs because they are just too loud to talk to anyone.  That's not old man Icarus talking, I felt this way in my 20s.  The only exceptions I've found are the euro-trash and maybe a few suburban ones.

The front of this place really looked like an Old Man Bar trying to pass itself off as a sports bar (probably what kept it alive during the early days of gentrification).  In the back there was a decent sized dance floor and they played what we considered Alternative Music:  DePeche Mode, Erasure, Pet Shop Boys, New Order, Tears For Fears, etc. 

Free Parking was hard but not impossible to find and my friends and I would go there, have a few drinks and get our dance on.

 The owner was there every night making sure everything ran smoothly and I think he was in his late 70's at that point. He sat on the corner sipping his drink making sure he said hi to everyone as they walked in. Great times and memories..

I was hanging with some suburban transplants at the time so we often were the first ones there and the first to leave, not that it would have made any difference.  I was often the 5th wheel to a pair of couples which is not only counter productive to meeting anyone, it is actually the kiss of death.

Plus I didn't know how to talk to girls people which would work out fine 20 years later.  Around 1999 it closed or re-branded itself as Thin Lizzie's.  I don't care to google if that place is still around, it was douche bag bait for all the frat boys in Lincoln Park and lost it's edge. 

There was another place that had a similar concept, bar up front,  psychedelic dance room in the back (I'm sure this is not a unique thing).  The Artful Dodger (1734 W Wabansia) went one better by having the bar area look like Medusa's all grown up. 

Thank you for reading and I hope you will comment below.  Please also do any and all of the following:

Follow Mysteries of Life on Twitter (@MysteriesOLife), Facebook or subscribe via email.