Off the Top: Home Entries

September 28, 2003

Power pole fire at home

This morning started with a bang. Literally, at about 4:45 a.m. a power transformer blew-up near our house with a fantastic boom and bright flash. Then following that there were flashes and explosions in the trees along the main street that runs next to our house. Waking from a deep sleep and four hours of sleep it seemed like I was witnessing World War II antiaircraft fire. I knew this was not the case and I noticed the power was out and I looked out the window and saw, what looked like a tree on fire on our property. I called the emergency number, then put in contacts and proper clothes and went outside to investigate.

We had the power pole on fire at the corner of Bradley Blvd. and McLean Drive and had live wires in down in the street. I could see police cars had the boulevard blocked off to traffic and a fire engine sitting back about 200 feet. The fire truck could not put out the fire due to the down live wires, so we waited for the power company to arrive. An hour and a half later the power company arrived and turned off the power (this does not stop electricity from the wires however I was warned from a screaming policeman) and put out the fire.

In the next few hours we had six to eight power trucks arrive to fix the problems. The power crew had a goal of being done by 1 p.m. so they could all go an watch the NASCAR race. This turned out to be a great motivator as they removed the hanging piece of the power pole and placed an new power pole in a hole next to the existing pole and had power restored to all by 1 p.m.

The fire was caused by a power wire coming loose from its resistor and resting against the pole. This caused the fire on the pole, which ate its way through the pole causing the top to fall off. The fire continued on both pieces of the pole. When the top fell it caused the shorts in the lines and caused the lines to fall into the trees, which produced the arcing.

What a way to start the day to bring home Will.

July 28, 2003

Home update

On the home front we are having work done on the exterior of our house. We are getting new gutters on the house built in 1951, painting, and fixing some dry rot. Well we are now fixing a little more dry rot than planned. You see the eaves of the house never were painted they were just exposed wood only protected by the gutter for 50 plus years. They did not fair too well.

April 15, 2003

April showers in the basement

A phrase some of you will understand... Pin-hole leak. Oh yeah, we have copper misting forth and plumbers avoiding the phones. I have the house to myself and a misting spray in the basement. I would turn off the water at the main, but the corrosion around that valve has made that a tenuous endeavor also. Well I have buckets and tape (to direct the spray into the buckets). We have been waiting for an estimate from a plumber to repipe the house as we know there have been leaks in the past. Our copper pipes have patches every 18 inches to two feet. We have been lucky not to have a leak yet. I only wish we could have made it to repiping first.

February 17, 2003

Yes we have snow

Snow update. After four rounds of shovelling yesterday I took the night off. We went to open the front door's storm door this morning and it was blocked. This means it was more than 5 inches of new snow and sleet last night. We were able to open the kitchen storm door enough to grab the snow shovel and dig off the landing outside that door. The snow next to the landing was even to its height, over three feet high. This is from shovelling and drifting. I had dug out paths from the kitchen to the garage and carved out a ledge six to eight inches up to keep snow from falling back into the paths. The paths are now indistinguishible from the ledges. I am enjoying the view out the office window. Pictures to come.

December 5, 2002

Snow with a house

It seems snow has a whole new meaning when one is a home owner (actually the whole world sort of changes). Snow now means shovelling, which is preceded by picking a suitable snow shovel, and deicing (also requiring careful thought so to choose a product that works, but does not damage the environment -- meaning it damages the pocket book, but I would rather pay there than poisoned land and water). I shovelled a couple times today and diced once and I am rather sore. Time for a long Winter's nap.

We had just a little over 6 inches of snow today at the house. Joy is down, iced in, Raleigh, NC and not here to enjoy the white fluff. I really enjoy the snow and it one of the things that keeps me from moving back to the SF Bay Area (I love the seasons and eternal Spring does not cut it for me).

I am looking forward to a nighttime snowfall here. We have a good yard to sit in and take in the quiet of snow falling. When I lived in Arlington, VA I was right across the street from the Iwo Jima Memorial. When it snowed at night in Arlington I would wander across to the Memorial to look down the light-up Mall and listen to the snowflakes land and the only other sound, the flag waving. It was perfectly calming. I did not really venture out today around here as I knew there were chores and things to look after. Sigh.

October 1, 2002

Battle Boxes

On the house front, we found out late last week that our furnace has a tendancy to shoot flames out the front when the gas is turned up to normal capacity. This is entertaining, but it is not safe. It seems the fire shooting has been melting some wires in the furnace. At least the walls are in good shape, knock wood.

We are still sitting in a sea of boxes and will be for some time. We had some space savers put in our closets, but there was one number not accounted for, our height. We are not tall people, well by Dutch standards, but our clothes drag from the top rack to the lower rack and the lower rack drags on the floor. The whole contraption needs to be raised two inches or so, which will limit the overhead storage.

I still can only find the left shoe for any of the shoes I wear to work. I am not sure where the right shoes are, nor can Joy remember where they may have been placed. I also can not find my electric razor, which should have been in the box marked "desk items and RAZOR". I have been using a blade razor, which in one or two more days will give me insane ingrown hairs.

One positive observation, well for me at least, I have fewer books than Joy. The last few years I have listened to teasing for all the books I have (mostly tech/Web/UXD related with a healthy helping of econ, history, architecture, design, and fiction) on the shelves. It seems Joy has nearly equal, if not more, knitting books and boxes of periodicals, just slated for our office. The knitting book count does not include the attic nor second bedroom. This to me is a nice thing to find out, I am not sure you are interested, nor Joy with my telling you, but it is just you and me here right?

New outlook

A new month, a new house, and a new outlook. It is great waking and being able to look out at trees and not a parking garage.

September 27, 2002

Temporary Leave

Things will be very very quiet around here over the next few days to 10 days. We move in the morning and will have very little connectivity for a week or so. Not even a phone line until Monday evening. Enjoy your selves and take in some items I find of interest over on the vanderwal net links. I have added a few new ones recently. Of most interest of the new links have been Pixelcharmer and Mike Lee's "Visual Lee". When we get settled all of you will have to come by and just say hi. See you soon.

September 22, 2002

House photos

There are a handful of photos of our house posted. (I played around with the Macromedia MX Studio to create the gallery, it has some capabilities, but still needs some learning.) The photos show the mirrors that were everywhere and what the wall looked like when the mirrors came down. There are some early shots of the outside with all the weeds and ivy and some with it geting cleaned out. I am missing Photoshop for photo clean-up and creating galleries quickly and wonderfully.

September 21, 2002

House appeal

It is settling in that we will be moved by this point next Saturday and I will most likely be without broadband access for a week or two at that point. I have Earthlink dial-up, which is barely passable and restricts access to most of my e-mail addresses. We are also leaning toward satellite TV over cable, mostly because our cable supplier can not process payments and their billing system has been one step away from being fully hosed for nearly six months. This may be the perfect opportunity to get Tivo into the house.

On the house front, the painters are done and the walls and ceillings are beautiful, and now that we can open our doors to the outside and open windows, we are very happy with the job done. Our floors started getting refinished yesterday and we have wonderful red oak flooring that is looking amazing after one coat of light stain. It is a huge improvement.

September 18, 2002

House update

The painting at the house finished Monday and it looks wonderful. We have also finished pulling most of the ivy at the front of the house, which has opened up the beds for more colorful plants and provides a much cleaner look. The focus for the next few days will be clearing the basement, de-grouting the tile in our bathroom, packing, and setting up services (DSL, Cable/Satellite TV, etc.).

September 11, 2002

Home adventures again

We now know some of the secrets of the house as the walls speak. One element of the wall squeeked at one point, yes a mouse. It had long expired and there was not much left. Our moisture problems in the basement seem to be attributed to a corroded main water line shutoff valve, a leaking basement window, a formerly major leak from the main waste water pipe, and other minor pinhole leaks. Now we need to get a professional to look at the pipes again. We should be done pulling out the basement tomorrow night. The painters are doing an incredible job as the house looks much better. There had only been one or two coats of paint in the 51 years of the houses existance. Where there had been wallpaper it was still all original.

September 10, 2002

Home update

Well, we now have a slightly less finished basement. I started pulling panelling off the walls and found, as expected much mold and mildew festering. I also found the main water valve, which I am not sure how it is staying together as it is completely corroded copper and rusted joiners. I pulled the drop ceiling tiles to find more "copper pipe", which seems only to be there to hold the patches in place. I also found our many waste water cast iron pipe with is nothing but deep rust at the bottom elbow. One debate is on the piping and when to replace it, the second is on whether to pull the framing, which has been holding the panelling in place. Some of the framing has signs of beginning to rot and it has mold and mildew growth in spots too. On a better note the walls upstairs are looking much better as the painters have finished patching and pulling nearly 50 two foot square mirrors off the walls (want to buy a bunch of 50 two foot square mirrors in great shape?). The boxwoods out front are finally taking shape too. Whew.

September 9, 2002

Home sweat home, cont.

The house has been eating a huge amount of time this past weekend, plus. Okay, eating money also. Many new tools, now I just need time to get some stuff done. We have the electritian out and the painting contractors in. This week it is time to rip out grouting in the bathroom floor tiles and the shower walls. So many 1x1 and 1x2 tiles in the mainfloor bathroom and a hexagon tile pattern upstairs. We also have a ton of weeding out a year of growth and pulling panelling out of the basement. We are going from a finished basement to an unfinished basement until we get the water issues solved and resolved. We are also having to remove the mold and mildew that have grown inside the walls. We found out most of our 51 year old copper piping is now mostly only solder patches. Ah, being a home owner.

September 2, 2002


The serious work on our house has begun. Joy was removing hardware and buckets of nails and hooks from the wall. I have been changing over light switches and putting in grounded outlets. I also ventured into the yard to start pulling ivy and pulling the tall weeds. So far this is a lot of fun and truly has been a Labor Day weekend. We have also been learning that we should have bought a house closer to Lowes as we are trucking up there every few days right now. (We are Lowes folks and not Home Depot people, mostly because of the brands they carry and the Lowes is not as insanely packed as Home Depot).

August 28, 2002

Home sweat Home, really

In less than two days we will be home owners. We are very excited and are now streching and limbering up as we plan to start updating outlets, pulling panelling in the basement, and pulling ivy from the yard beginning day one. There will be much to get done by the end of September when we move in. We have already dealt with the flakey contractors who have not made it to appointments for estimates the first or rescheduled times. Being who we are we have matrix running for products and services and have timelines started. Now if it will all come together.

I mentioned to Jeff and Bryan that we had a Tiki bar in the basement, but it may have a short life as it sits under the stairs and may become a server closet. Yes, they threatened me, but it could have been the burbon.

This new endevour has brough two new categories to track "home" and "gardening".

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