Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Garage Door Invoice

 This is the invoice I got for my garage door.  I'm putting it here for posterity.  

Garage Door Disaster

Yesterday Boris was coughing badly and we decided to keep him home from school.  In keeping with the twin tradition, we kept Natasha home too.  They are only in Second Grade so they aren't missing anything important and it eliminates the after-school pickup.

Today the Mid-South is experiencing cold weather and expecting Ice Storms.  The Powers-That-Be made the call last night to cancel school.  So another day with Moose and Squirrel at home, full of energy but not able to go outside and burn it, at least until the snow arrives.

[For anyone new to MOL, I fluctuate between referring to my kids as either Moose and Squirrel in the general sense, or Natasha and Boris when being specific.]

I don't think I've shared this yet so here goes.  Last summer our garage door bit the dust.  It was an inevitability that was accelerated by a delivery person accidentally kicking the door sensor such that it wouldn't sometimes close when desired.  Usually when we needed to close it the most.  We would have to close it manually and that caused some problems too because it's a heavy door and closing it with a car parked under it is challenging.  

One particular day when we had to leave on a trip and were down to the wire because that's how we roll, Nightingale bent the door such that it made it harder to close subsequently.  I finally had to surrender and get a new door and opener.  $5000.  

So the timeline is Precision came and looked at the door on 10/12/22 and ordered me a new one.  Like everything it takes 6-8 weeks.  It actually was available the week we were in Chicago for Thanksgiving.  Since we had already waited over a month, what was another week.  I scheduled them to come to install on December 1st as that was an easy date to remember and would push back the balance payment another month, or so I thought.

It turns out, the person who came to look at the door failed to notice that one side of the garage entry was lower so when the installer put in the new door, there is a gap.  The installer said that they would have to order some new panels that would hide the gap better. 

That white is the outside light

He asked if I wanted to pay the balance now or after the Gap Remediation.  Guess which I choose.

He also said something about grounding the concrete as well, but he didn't go into detail.  His manager was supposed to call me which never happened and I was not in a hurry to remind them that I exist still owing them $2500.

We finally got a text yesterday asking me to call and schedule the installation.  As I'm in no hurry to shell out more money, I scheduled for next Wednesday, as the weather will be in the 50s again.  

Monday, January 30, 2023

January Thoughts

As the first month of 2023 comes to a close, I can safely report that the job market sucks.  Every day on LinkedIn someone is posting that they were victims of the massive layoffs at Google, Microsoft, and other big tech companies.

Last Year's Ice Storm

I'm running out of options and losing any semblance of faith I had.  I've reached out to a couple of former colleagues from the No-Name Software Company and their silence has been deafening.  

I need to remember that last year I still brought in $50K via two contract short-term roles.  It just feels like I've been unemployed since 2020 because of no benefits like 401K or Healthcare.

In other news, we are in what passes for winter in the Mid-South.  It's not crippling cold, but it's not exactly pleasant to be outside.  We are supposed to get some ice storms this week.  I'm told things shut down when those occur, so there's a good chance I'll cart Moose and Squirrel off to school, just to have to pick them back up shortly after.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

A Few Rediscovered Blogs

 Relatively recently, I rediscovered three blogs I use to follow with some frequency.  In no particular order, they are:

Alexis' blog is private so this link won't work, but I'm putting it in for posterity.  20 years ago, I actually knew Alexis when she lived in Chicago.  We have mutual friends and I enjoy reading about her life as an Ex-Pat and her children.  They are a tad older than Natasha and Boris and often I'll read something and think "okay that station is gonna come up soon."

I've never met Lakeview Coffee Joe but he is a Bears fan and our political viewpoints seem to overlap so I'm gonna bet he would be fun to watch a game.  I likely found his blog through Alexis but I suspect the interest was because of some posts about home repair or DIY that piqued my interest.  It appears he doesn't blog as much these days and I suspect it is for all the usual reasons.  

Next, there is a guy named Steve Manes who is an IT guru who bought a fixer-upper brownstone in Brooklyn when prices were reasonable and has completely renovated the place.  I use to read him in the late 2000s.  He stopped posting for a while and I had my own stuff to deal with so I didn't check in after enough time had passed since his last post (years).  It looks like he started up again, but hasn't posted since 2019.

A picture to break up the text

None of these people really know I exist and Alexis has only commented here once, on a post about Fiancee 1.0 leaving me.  And while I wish they visited my blog as much as I visit theirs, I long ago gave up trying to get commenters and an audience here. I use to get my page view fix at ChicagoNow where I would get that many a day, occasionally more when I posted something that went mini-viral.

One of the things I often suspected, and have somewhat confirmed, is that many of the people who had successful blogs -- high traffic and earned money -- were in the right place and the right time and had connections that made it "easier" to achieve that. 

 I'm not saying that they didn't have talent or desired content.  They just got there first and capitalized before the rest of us figured it out.  The early big names who were snapped up by legacy media outlets in this manner had an enormous First Mover advantage. 

As a point of reference, I get According to the dubious stats on the dashboard, I get about 1-2K visitors a month for some reason.  At Chicago now, I'd get that on one day.  I'm the same writer. it's just the Tribune Ecosystem was able to reach a larger audience without really doing anything to promote my particular blog.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Final Touches on the Work Room

When it comes to Home Improvement Projects, there are two animals that are common, though entirely opposite.  First, there is the Might_As_Well.  If I'm gonna do X, Might_As_Well do Y.  If I'm gonna paint the walls, I should do something about the floor.  

And then there is Home Stretch Complacency.  

"The symptoms of HSC are, after spending years on a difficult and time-consuming renovation project, crashing on the last lap. That final room doesn’t get done, the trim doesn’t go up, and the primer doesn’t get painted. You sink into lethargy and just live with it."   Brooklyn Row House

I really should finish painting the floor of the workroom.  When I started last year, I knew I wasn't going to have enough paint to cover the entire floor but I didn't realize just how much "not enough paint" I would be short.  It is less than 9 sq ft.  

This was too little to justify buying another gallon of paint from the Big Box Store.  I would have had enough if I hadn't used two coats for the front porch stoop, one was enough.  I did find a local shop that mixed me a quart of paint, so I'll see how well it matches when I finally get over the HSC.

The other reason I'm not in a hurry to paint the floor is the last part is also where the water heater is, and that will slow down what would otherwise be a quick painting project.

The good news is that I installed a frameless mirror that was lying around (behind the water heater for its own safety) and not being used for anything.  I have some floating shelves that I want to install and place some of my frequently used power tools and their batteries on.  I'm waiting to see how the flow in the room works now that it isn't as cluttered as when I inherited it.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

More Decluttering

 The other day I wrote: " I want the attached garage to have at least 15% fewer things in there and most of them off the floor."   

Well, I would say that I have managed to do that.  I moved the white cabinet to the deck and moved the Billy Bookcase to its place.  I hope to install some adjustable shelves in that spot because Nightingale likes to have everything close to the door.  Which means the bookcase likely gets moved again.  Then I have to find a home for the red shelves.  I'm hoping a few more things leave the other side and then the shelves can go there because they are pretty convenient.

I would really like to do something about that floor.  There has been the removal of enough stuff that it would be easy to clear the floor and epoxy it in theory.  In practice, it would still be a bit of a herculean task.  Nightingale would insist everything be moved into the detached garage while waiting for things to dry.  The good news is, if I pick the right month, it dries faster than it did up north.  That may be a late April or May project, something to try before the kids are out of school.  Hopefully, I'm working my then so I can justify the expense.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Attached Garage Organization

The other day I wrote that I wanted to better organize the garages.  I've managed to get all the Christmas stuff and most of the Halloween decorations on the Saferacks I installed last spring.  We also managed to get rid of some things and move some stuff so the garage is as organized as it is going to be until I can install some more overhead storage.  

I moved some things outside the garage to take this picture.  this is what it really looks like.  

The black bags will be gone this week are gone and soon will the boxes.  

That white cabinet will be moved to the deck and the black Ikea Billy Bookcase will be put in its place.  Hopefully, that wall will soon have some adjustable shelving so that we can better store things.  The red rolling shelves will need to find a new home.  Ideally, they could live on the other side of the garage as things go away but that remains to be seen.

Monday, January 9, 2023

Witness this Fully Operational Work Room

Our house comes with a small room off the attached garage.  I'm told, by Mark the Handyman, that this isn't a common feature down here but who knows.  My inlaws used it for extra storage and it also houses one of the water boilers.  I decided to convert it into a more usable workroom.  A place I can go when I need to assemble a small toy, change batteries, or whatever.

Edit from the future:  I found some pictures of the workroom in its previous form so I redid this post.

In my perfect world, I would have completely emptied the room, painted it, and then moved stuff back in.  It's not a perfect world.  I had to paint around stuff that had no place to go.  Other projects had priority, some unexpected things came up and the weather is a factor as well.

While it doesn't get Chicago Freezing down here, it does get cold in the winter that hanging out in there isn't pleasant.  And in the summer the opposite is true.  

But I've finally reached a point where it is now operational.  My inlaws had the makeshift desk on the North wall.  I originally positioned it against the West wall.  But then I decided that if I cut it, it can fit against the South wall and take up less space.  As they say on those House Renovation shows, It truly opened up the space!

I also realized that I can use the wall to mount all my battery chargers which also frees us space.  the inlaws left behind this mirror which I really don't have a use for, so I'm going to mount it next to the cabinet they also left behind (which I paid Mark the Handyman to install for me).

The last thing I may do to this room is run the internet through it.  I have an old VPN switch that should be able to do the job and then I can run CAT6 wiring to each of the bedrooms in case we ever need a hardware connection.

My next project to focus on, which I've been working on since we moved in, is to better organize the attached and detached garages.  I want the detached garage to be a Work Shop where I can work on bigger projects like stripping and staining furniture.  I want the attached garage to have at least 15% fewer things in there and most of them off the floor.  

Thursday, January 5, 2023

Troubleshooting 101: read the manual, repeat as necessary

 Against the advice of my Facebook consultants, I purchased a monitor with a built-in webcam about two years ago this week.  An ASUS BE24E series.  Everyone said that not only is the quality of standalone webcams better but built-in ones tend to break leaving you with useless hardware.  Think TV/VCR combos.

Well, the webcam worked for a while until it didn't.  Sometime in the late fall of 2021, it stopped working.  I'm not 100 % sure when it stopped working because I don't use it every day.  I just remember

testing it out for an interview, it not working, and me going to my box of cords and hardware and using one of the many detached cameras I've come across over the years.

Periodically, I'd try to troubleshoot it but it was never a priority.  This week, however, as I was working on another home project, I came across the manual that came with the monitor.  It's mostly pictorial but I noticed something I hadn't before.  If you are using a VGA connection instead of HDMI (or DVI I suppose) you need to use a USB firewire for the camera to work.

This might be common knowledge among my nerdier tech friends but I apparently forgot this step.  I'm guessing that when I first got the monitor, more detailed instructions came with and I used a firewire.  I must have forgotten it when I moved the computer from the middle bedroom to the office.  

It's nice to have a fully working monitor again.  It would be nice to be fully working myself.  

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Welcome 2023

 Happy New Year all.

Alas, 2023 is starting off on a bad foot. I was interviewing for two similar yet different roles between Thanksgiving and Xmas. Got to Round 3 with each. My backup gave me the bad news day after Christmas. The one I wanted waited until Jan 2 to send me the rejection email. This cycle is getting old.

I am assuming that it was the final round that did me in.  The person just didn't like my answers or didn't connect with me or whatever.  It certainly makes sense because interviewing has costs and going through multiple rounds if you already decided you're not hiring a person is wasteful.  But what do I know?

I'm running out of places to apply.  Even with remote work, some places won't hire if you don't live in a state where they have an office because of tax purposes.  And there have been so many layoffs that even if anyone is hiring, the competition is fierce.  

Stay tuned...