Sunday, December 30, 2018

One Last Ride

I had to squeeze in one last bike ride before the year was out, for some reason. Part of it was scouting some roads and trails for future rides, and part of it was the fact that I've barely left the house over the past week and needed to get some fresh air and exercise.

I'm not sure I was counting on it being quite so cold though.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Let There Be Light

In my dining room area (at least that's what I've tasked it to be, the former owner had a different room usage) there's no actual light fixtures, only a pair of light pipes that let in some natural light during the day. There is one light switch, however, which controls the sum total of one outlet, approximately 32 inches away from said switch. This arrangement was clearly installed back during a dark period in American lighting history where it was illegal for standalone lamps to have their own built-in switches. At least, that's the explanation that makes sense to me.

Anyway, there's a set of unswitched outlets around the room, on two different breakers no less, that I wanted to plug some lamps into, and I made it my goal to have them all switch on and off on the same switch. And so began my descent down the dark path of home automation.

I had been very reluctant to dabble in the home automation scene, because in the past it had mostly been advertised with the "OMG ONE BUTTON THEATRE MODE, PREPARE FOR SEXY DATE NIGHT" theme that really had zero appeal to me. More recently that marketing message has changed to "YELL AT YOUR SMART HOME SPEAKER TO SWITCH THE LIGHTS ON AND NEVER LEAVE THE COMFORT OF THE WELL-WORN BUTT CRATER IN YOUR COUCH" or something like that, which also didn't play well with me. I really didn't want some random Bolivian hacker to start blinking my lights in morse code to spell out "CLICK HERE FOR HOT MILFS IN YOUR AREA".

But as it turns out, which I found after hours and hours of searching, is that you can actually do a very simple ad-hoc pairing between the switches and outlets without even needing a hub, app, or any other extra complication. You just hold a button on the switch until it beeps, then hold a button on the outlet until it beeps, and now they're paired so that switching on the switch turns the outlet on, and switching off the switch turns the outlet off. Magic.

It's not cheap magic mind you, but it saved me crawling around in the attic and rewiring a bunch of outlets, so I'll take it.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

The Pile of Clutter Slowly Shrinks

Little by little, I'm finding places for things and things for places. It helps that I've finally got the bookshelves and wardrobe squared away, so that the things that ought be contained within them can once more find their home.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

How Plans Change

I started out today entirely intending to scope out a bit of electrical work in preparation for improving the lighting in the garage. Things began with a wild goose chase through the electrical panel trying to find the breaker for the lights in the garage. Turned out not to be on any garage-related circuit, but rather on the same circuit as the lighting in the general area of the house, for whatever reason.

Anyway, while I was at this, I discovered that the bypass valve for the cursed water softener was leaking. I tried wiggling the valve back and forth a little to see if maybe the seals would seat themselves, but that ended up making things worse. Of course.

So, first stop: plumbing section. Got some fittings, tools, a bottle of MAP gas, one of those nifty insulating cloth thingies that you stick behind the pipe you're torching so you don't get those black marks on the drywall. All that good stuff.

And say goodbye to the cursed water softener!

I will not miss you. Burn in hell.

Next up was replacing the somewhat sketchy 10-30R outlet with a 6-30R.

So fancy!

And finally I decided to cover up the doorknob hole in the wall near the back door.

Yup, that should hide it.

I've got about half the supplies I need for the electrical work. I ended up finding myself in a moment of hesitation once I got to the romex aisle and remembered that copper costs money, and decided to measure out what I'll need rather than just buying a huge spool or two all at once.

The Way of the Wood Elf

So Ikea decided to do a bit of a daft thing and designed the leveling feet on my wardrobe with an unintentional breakaway feature.

So I decided to sacrifice a broken pants hanger for some reinforcement.

Things initially seemed to be going well with just wood glue holding things in place.

But when time came to drill the hole from the backside after a day of drying, it popped off the smooth surface of the picture-of-wood covering the particle board underneath. So plan B: do a bit of sanding to rough up the surface (which I really should have done in the first place) and glue it again.

Also, add more clamps.

Reinforce with some screws.

And success!

This is all hidden under the base of the wardrobe unit so you'll never see it, and hopefully this is the last time I'll ever need to think of it too. Now all I have to do is actually reassemble the wardrobe.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Sparky Time

So I finally found the breaker panel. It took me a bit because I'm not used to seeing it integrated with the meter in the same box, and also being outside. California is weird. Anyway, it gave me an excuse to start mapping things out a little, and the first up was the mystery 240v receptacle in the garage, which showed equal likelihood of being connected or abandoned. It was also being held up by a piece of rope, rather than being properly secured to the wall.

Turns out it is hooked up, which is nice. Figured out the breaker, printed a color-coordinated label, secured the outlet to the wall, and tightened up the conduit. Only trouble is it's an obsolete NEMA 10-30R, which has two hot and one neutral, and is (technically) ungrounded. The good news is that since this is a dedicated line to the main panel the wiring for hot-hot-neutral and hot-hot-ground is actually identical, so I can just get a new box and 6-30R outlet and I'll be ready to hook up a welder and give myself a really painful sunburn.

Oddly enough there seems to be an unused 30a 240v circuit in my panel, which is puzzling. The good news is that it should make it super simple to add a subpanel in the garage when the time comes to add some more outlets in there, either sticking with the 30a or bumping up to a 40a or 50a depending on how the loads calculate out. But that's a project for another day.

I also started working on a small repair/upgrade to my wardrobe to reinforce the leveling feet at the front of the unit. Waiting for some glue to dry right now, so the remaining work on that will come tomorrow.

Seasonal Snacks

Looks like I have some nice neighbours. Or maybe evil ones, depending on if these are poisoned or not. Guess I'll find out after lunch!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Dead Head

Some heads may be more dead than others. It looks like the neighbourhood dinosaurs are exacting their revenge on the mammals that displaced them, and I can't say I'm all that upset about it given how much poop those little rodents have left in my garage and hantavirus shed. (Looks like a Cooper's Hawk to me)

But that's not the type of dead head I was intending to write this post about before I got distracted by the goings-on in my back yard.

Rather, today turned out to be a gardening day, and I spent a fair few hours outside dead-heading the plants in the front yard, as well as pruning back a bit of frost damage. Some eye-candy 'after' pictures:

The plant life is looking not half bad, if I do say so myself. There's some plants that are dead, and a few others that I'll probably want to kill at some point due to having been mangled a bit in their past life. But that's for future-me to worry about.

I also need to hire a palm pruning service, as my palm is getting a bit of a shaggy beard.

Finally, I took the opportunity of being out in the yard to run the cover for one of my couches through my fancy new washer and dryer, and it came out looking quite lovely indeed.

I didn't get as much done today as I might have originally planned, but in all I'd say I made some good progress.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

All Steamed Up

Finally I am free from the tyranny of dirty laundry!

The washer and dryer arrived today and I couldn't be happier. They're a jumbo set because there's few things I hate more than having to do laundry, so the fewer loads I can do, the better. Also separating whites and colours is for chumps.

The washer was able to handle a giant pile of blankets and towels without even coming close to breaking a sweat. Even the highly absorbent bath mats were no match for it; even just a single one would send lesser washers skittering across the floor on the spin cycle, but not even a pair was enough to get this thing shaking.

The dryer is pretty spiffy too, it was able to dry that load of towels and blankets and so on perfectly in under an hour. This is probably the biggest improvement from moving out, the combo unit in my apartment would have taken 3 hours and left the bath mats barely less soaking wet than they'd started.

The dryer also has an interesting steam function where you can toss in, say, a set of sheets that's been wrinkled up from being folded lazily and stuffed in a drawer, and it'll then blast it with steam for 10 minutes before drying it out again, spitting it out with that 'fresh from the dryer' feel. Very nifty.

In other drying news, I've installed the towel bar in the fancy bathroom.

This is so much nicer than using the hook behind the door for hanging the hand towel. Conveniently it's just above the furnace vent so it should stay nice and dry and not get all stanky. I may yet add a towel hook next to the shower, or I might just keep tossing my towel on the vanity when I shower, I haven't made up my mind on that yet.

Only other remaining items for this room is replacing the grungy faucet and the doesn't-actually-hold-water pop up drain (already purchased), and fixing some loose tiles near the door. At least, until I find something else wrong.

Monday, December 17, 2018

It's Like Wiping Your Arse With Silk

So this is apparently what $40 will buy you in toilet paper holders. I wanted to find one that matched the theme in the bathroom, which is roughly "square chrome", and this fit the bill and was name-brand enough that I could be confident of it not being plastic crap. I think it's solid brass under the chrome? Some kind of decently hefty metal at least.

Is it four times better than the usual $10 toilet paper holders? I dunno.

I like it.

Unlike the master bath, the vanity in this bathroom is regular depth so you don't need to pop your spine every time you reach for a bit more paper.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

More Home (Dis-)Improvement

First up, I'm now half way to being fully equipped with toilet paper holders. No idea why there weren't any installed in the first place, I can only assume that the previous owners preferred using the three shells.

It's a bit further back than I'd like since the vanity is shallower than standard, but it'll do. I'm planning to get rid of the ugly, rusted over-toilet-shelf-organizer thing and replacing it with a cabinet a bit higher up on the wall, so that should free up a bit of elbow space and make it easier to reach the paper.

Next up, some "before" pictures of today's hantavirus-shelf destruction:

And "after":

And looking at these I just realized that I forgot to remove one of the metal shelf brackets in the last photo. Oh well, I've still got plenty more work to go so I'll get to it then. It doesn't look like much, but I pulled down quite a lot of poorly cut, shoddily assembled lumber.

The important thing here is that the shelves above where the washer and dryer will be going are gone. The installer is supposed to be putting them in this Saturday and I wanted them out before that so I didn't have to risk accidentally dropping shelf bits on them later when I was tearing things down. Mission accomplished.

Monday, December 10, 2018

I just need some space-ers

Just a little shout-out to an amazing product that you never knew you needed: outlet spacers. Basically they're little plastic stackable spacers that you wedge between an outlet and the electrical box that, when installed properly, makes sure that the outlet sits at exactly the right distance from the wall, and sits there securely. So you never have to deal with oddly sunken, squishy, off-kilter outlets and switches with cracked cover plates ever again.

Fucking miracles.

Also I'd like to give a shout out to brushed stainless steel outlet/switch face plates. Every garage in the world has an outlet or switch with a cracked, chipped or broken faceplate. Every garage in the world but mine, that is.

Shelves No More

First home dis-improvement project done: removing the first section of rickety, hantavirus-infested shelving in the garage. Oddly enough the hardest part was removing the drain adapter that was hooked up to the (filthy, cheap, and oddly high mounted) sink. The shelves themselves came apart pretty easy, thanks in no small part to the reciprocating saw I recently bought.

Pro tip: a reciprocating saw is a great tool to own so long as there's nothing within a three block radius that you might want to keep in one piece.

Eventually I'm going to get rid of all the plumbing on this wall, including the water heater just off to the right of the picture, and relocate it to the west wall of the garage. This will eliminate the pipes that rather awkwardly cross the stairs leading into the garage, as well as give me an excuse to replace the water heater that's partially blocking the door with a tankless wall-mounted unit, and fix the drain plumbing that's not actually vented outside. Plus I'd really prefer if all the plumbing and gas lines were run inside the wall rather than surface-mounted.

But until I find time to find a plumber and gas fitter it's just gonna stay where it is.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Shower Nubbin

First home improvement project done: replace the rusty, white-painted shower nubbin with a shiny new chrome one.

So much nicer!

Friday, December 7, 2018

And So I Have Moved In... Somewhat

I've got all my furniture inside though my wardrobe has yet to be reassembled. My computers are up and running, my living room is back in order, but there's still a lot of stuff in boxes that will probably stay there for a few weeks yet.

I've already done one home improvement task: I fixed the door for the furnace room that was getting jammed at the top corner of the frame. A small but meaningful improvement.

This weekend has quite a few things on my list of things to do: I want to go retrieve Scooty-Puff from where it's parked at work, I want to rip the crappy shelving out of the garage, I want to see about turning the water softener back on, I want to get the patio furniture set up in the back yard and give it a power wash, and maybe if I have time I'd like to clean up some leaves and give my postage stamp of a lawn a mowing. We'll see. I also have to find time to do my nails this weekend.

Busy, busy.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

And So I Have Moved Out

Moving in, on the other hand, is still gonna take a bit of time. But that's how these things go.

Last load was in the Pedovan and rolling out at 3:30am last night. Remember that "I just have a few more odds and ends to load up" means at least 2 hours of hard work ahead of you. It didn't help that the parking space was about 45 seconds of walking one-way from my apartment, so I could count on a minimum of 2 minutes per load. Times obviously increased if the item was large and awkward. It was taking anywhere from 2-4 hours to load the van on that end, and about 15-30 minutes to unload at the house.

To say this was exhausting is an understatement. In fact it was so exhausting that when I woke up this morning at around 10am, I actually had difficulty standing. Like literally my body just couldn't support my weight because I was that completely drained. Luckily things have improved after a nice hearty breakfast and a bit of relaxation, not to mention a lovely hot shower, and I'm half way to feeling pretty decent again.

Well, time to go unpack I suppose.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

The Stages of Moving Out

Stage 53: That moment you realize that you will probably never be naked within these four walls again. Probably.

Stage 54: Get naked one last time, so that you remember it.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

A New Home... For My Phone

There's rare occasion where I feel the need to have my phone out while driving. Very rare. But when it happens, I'd like the experience to be slightly more convenient than just stuffing the phone under my leg so that it doesn't go skittering across the floor of my van.

3d printing to the rescue.

I printed the replacement for the old UV-toasted tupperware cup at a pretty high speed so the bridging at the top didn't come out as magnificently as it probably should have, but a little blast with the heat gun got things mostly into place. Good enough to be functional. I almost left that part out but felt like it would look weird without something to connect the two horns sticking up above the rim.

I didn't make a cutout for a charging cable because it's an iPhone and it doesn't need charging. Certainly not for the rare occasions I use it in the car.

In a way I'll miss the tupperware cup. It served as a pen and coin holder in both the Jellybean and the Pedovan, and has seen me through thick and thin. Actually no, I take that back; it's filthy, rotting and disgusting, I won't miss it or the neon yellow-green crumbs it was leaving on my dashboard one bit. It had a good life, and it has now lived its last.

Amusingly it's old enough to have "Made in Canada" stamped on the underside. I suspect it's probably a fair few years older than I am, but it will not outlive me.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

I Am Thankful For My House

All the i's are dotted and t's are crossed, and now it's just a few days of waiting until Monday when the final contract is signed and the money changes hands, and I will have my house.

Feels good, man.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Pedals Go Round and Round

Finally got the back-ordered pedals in for Bike 2. Still waiting on the missing part from Cannondale but I suspect it should be here this coming week. Just to be safe I had them send it to my work address.

The smoke has been pretty thick here lately so I haven't been in much of a cycling mood, despite just getting some new cold weather gear. There's some forecasts for rains late next week around Thanksgiving so maybe that'll help clear the air a bit. Of course I'm taking Thurs/Fri and all of the week after off for moving so I won't be putting in many commuting miles, but I might sneak in a fun ride if the opportunity presents.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

No More Speed Bumps? No, More Speed Bumps!

Turns out I really shouldn't have trusted Sports Basement to put the bike together. I figured "what could they possibly screw up?" Turns out, a lot of stuff.

First off, one of the shifter cables is catching on the stem bolts and is preventing the bike from steering properly. That's only potentially fatal.

Secondly, the cable guide in the bottom bracket is very clearly printed with "USE WITH METAL SUPPORT" and guess what's missing? The metal support.

Finally, the clueless retard managed to use a piece of brake cable housing to route the shifter cable to the rear derailleur. These are literally physically incompatible (brake cable housing is 5mm, shifter housing is 4mm) so you have to go out of your way to bodge it into working.

I'm going to be getting my money back on that service, and hopefully they'll be able to find the missing parts, although if they're gone for good I can just buy them online.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Bike 2! (Almost)

Getting closer. Seat post should be here this coming week, it's just making its way through shipping. Pedals are still ??? but I'm sure they'll show up eventually.

Curiously enough, when I was first shopping for my CAAD9 I had my eye on the matte black color, but it wasn't available with the components I wanted (SRAM Rival) so I ended up with red instead. It's all coming around I guess.

The new frame has much better tire clearance, particularly around the rear brake bridge, so once these 23mm GP4000sII tires wear out I can switch out for 25mm GP4Season without any trouble to make the bike more rain-friendly.

Сука блять

So I got myself a dashcam for the Pedovan. Now I just have to remember to shout "Сука блять" every time someone does something stupid in front of me.

Nice thing about the van is that the windshield is huge, so I can stick the camera just about anywhere and it won't be in the way. For the time being it's down at the bottom of the windshield and wired into the 12v port in the cupholder. Later on I'm planning to dig around in the overhead console to see if I can wire it in there instead and then move the camera up to the top to tidy up the installation.