Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

Knob and Tube Wiring

IMG_8493In the last few years of my home-ownership, I have discovered 2 things I would change if I could go back in time and make different decisions. The first mistake, that seemed absolutely correct at the time, was putting down that horrible black ground cover underneath the mulch that was all around my deck. Why was there mulch all around my deck? Because my deck is several feet off the ground, and I envisioned active children climbing about and falling. I wanted a nice soft cushion (or comparatively soft) in case of someone falling off the railing. (Always plan for the worst-case scenario.) The irony is that the mulch disintegrated, became dirt, became weeds, became a few inches deep of landscaping I don’t want. I tried to plant a morning glory and could not figure out why I could not dig more deeply. Upon closer inspection I found the black fabric. I had to take a scissors and hack away at it to create an opening wide enough for the plant and dig down so the roots could extend. I’ve hit the same issue with everything else I have tried to plant in the back. I will NEVER use black fabric again.

IMG_8507I was born in an old town – here since before 1776. My parents’ house was not that old, but it wasn’t new. It must have been built back in the 1930s or so. At that time gas lights were out and the new fangled electricity was in. And you got your electricity through your house with knob and tube wiring. We never had an issue with electricity in that house. Over time my father had the main panel upgraded from those little round glass thingies (fuses?) to circuit breakers, added a subpanel, but all of that was hooked to the K&T and everything was fine. We bought our house in the same town over 30 years ago and knew that there was K&T. Our homeowners insurance company knew there was K&T and we got insurance with no problem. We too have upgraded our panel, added a subpanel, rewired to modern standards whenever we had any electrical work done, but the core of the original house still has K&T. Even in places where we bypassed the K&T it was often left in place, disconnected, because of the mess and inconvenience of removing it. Let me also point out that the core of the house has plaster walls, not sheet rock. That’s just how things were done in those days.

Flash forward to selling our parents’ house 3 years ago. We learned then that we would have to rip apart the (plaster) walls and remove and replace all of the K&T because any new homeowner would not be able to get insurance on the house with K&T in existence. Yes, read that again. A perfectly working, reliable electrical system that never failed is uninsurable. I think one estimate we got was $10k to do the work. We couldn’t even find anyone to call us back with a solid estimate.

IMG_8508Asbestos. Did I forget to tell you about asbestos? All the hot water pipes way back when were wrapped in asbestos. When I was a teenager having parties in the basement, Daddy had wrapped red tape around the white asbestos so that people would not hit their heads (it was a low ceiling). My father, may his memory be for a blessing, was oh so smart. Daddy (wrongfully) removed most of the asbestos in HIS house by cutting it off himself (wearing a little cloth face mask) and bagging it up and tossing it in the garbage. But there was still some left. When we bought OUR house, of course there was asbestos. I’d grown up with asbestos, so what. At that time an ACCEPTED TREATMENT was to wrap the pipes with something such as heavy-duty aluminum foil, sealing them up completely. My husband donned his little respirator and dutifully wrapped every single pipe he could reach, wrapping them with the heavy-duty foil and miles of duct tape. We can’t sell the house with that either.

IMG_8504Knowing all this now, I’d have ripped apart my house before I moved in, and upgraded all the electrical (which I couldn’t have afforded – not the electrical part, not the repairing the ripped apart walls and ceilings) and had the asbestos removed “by professionals”. Maybe I’d have even removed the zillion layers of flooring you can see under the kitchen radiator. Of course all the horrible wallpaper would have been dealt with then too. As it stands now, I plan to burn my house to the ground before I’m ready to sell. Then no one can give me grief about my pipes, my electricity, my probably-not-current-grade water pipes and I can just sell a plot of land. It will cut down on a lot of inspections. And think how easy it will be to til that plot and rip up the stupid black fabric if there is no house in the way.

We all have fantasies……

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The Great Incarceration

end of hallAs my friend Honour has pointed out, I haven’t mentioned the major change coming into the lives of my 3 cats. They aren’t going to like it.

As I mentioned recently, I am going to gut the entire kitchen and part of the breakfast room. It’s a major undertaking. It will be a mess. Lots of noise. Workmen. Dust. Noise. Open doors. Noise. Stress. We are expecting this to take 3 months at a minimum. And that doesn’t include painting the new walls and staining the new molding.

Most people ask us what we are planning to do about eating since we won’t have a stove, sink, dishwasher, floor and counters. I *think* we will have the refrigerator in the dining room, and maybe a microwave. I’m not too worried about the whole food thing. It’s spring, almost summer. We have a grill on the deck. We have lots of restaurants we like. We have restaurants that deliver. Maybe we’ll even get lucky and have friends who invite us to eat at THEIR homes. 🙂 No, what worries ME are the cats.

hallway to stairsTwo of my cats are, no nice way to put it, old. They will both be 16 in August. Not only are they set in their ways, but the white one is totally neurotic. Extremely. The gray one is not as crazy, but not 100% well-balanced either (of course, can you say ANY cat is 100% well-balanced?). The black one, the child of my old age, *grin*, is wonderful, but very active and needs to be wherever I am. Henceforth they will be known as WC, GC, and BC. 🙂

There is NO WAY I can leave the 3 of them loose in the house while the workmen are here. The cats don’t want to be near strangers and noise and the workmen don’t want them around either. 3 months is too long to board. I can’t lock them in the basement because (1) the workmen will need access to the basement and (2) the door they will use opens on the basement landing. So the cats need to be locked up. Now probably most of you who own cats say what’s the big deal, you lock them up during the day while the work is going on and you let them out at night while you are home. That does sound reasonable, if you overlook the time when our friends took that approach and their cat got shut behind the dry wall. They had to rip out the new wall to get the cat out. But still, many people would take that approach.

bathroom and little room doorsMy cats are NOT reasonable, not by any stretch of the imagination. If it were ONLY BC, not a problem – she even comes when we call. WC – she is nuts. We are going to have one chance to grab WC and GC and that’s it. They don’t like to be held or picked up. If we ever let them out of being locked up, they will hide and we will never find them again. Or not in time. Or not safely. So we will grab them once (my husband has been told he has to grab WC, I’m grabbing GC) and we will shove them into their restricted quarters and there they will stay until such time as we deem it safe to release them.

Obviously we cannot lock up 3 cats for 3 months in 1 room. First, the 2 big cats have issues at times with BC (you know, pesky kid sister and all that). Second – the food, water and litter boxes need to be considered as well. Add that to the 3 cats and you have one crowded room. Had the basement been a viable option it would have been fine – there is a DOOR to the basement. We can’t confine them on the first floor – that’s where the work is happening. The second floor is the solution EXCEPT ….. there’s no door to the 2nd floor.

top of stairsWe are building a door in the upstairs hall. There is no good place to put a door – the hallway is filled with doorways that do not align. We have steep steps. We need the light and air from the window at the end of the hallway. We are building a door, at an angle, with consideration for light and air, and seeing what’s on the other side before we open it. That way the girls will have access to every room on the 2nd floor – plenty of places to hide, water & food in one room, litter boxes in another room, bed to hide under in a third room, and so on. Room to avoid each other. And BC can sleep with me, as she always does. Once the construction is over, and the house is deemed safe for cathabitation, the prisoners will be released. But since they will miss us, we will be living upstairs also. Watching TV on the computer instead of the TV. Working from home from a bedroom instead of spread out on my dining room table. All 5 of us on the 2nd floor.

It’s going to be a very long summer. And none of us are going to like it.
The Great Barrier

Vanity is Costly

The moment you say “I’m worth it” you can be sure the level of your bank account will begin sinking, swirling around and down like the blue water in the … well, you know where you find blue water. My father used to tell me that “a boat is a hole in the ocean into which you throw money”. For me – vacations/travel are a boat. If I’m going, I want my creature comforts and I don’t want to deny myself anything. 🙂 For those of you who know me as Ahuva this attitude will come as no surprise. There might be some reading this who know me by my – oh heck. If Ahuva is my alter-ego, what is that other ego??? Anyway, in all my aspects I have decided that yep, I’m WORTH it.

Honour and I will be traveling for at least a week, if not longer. I will have days before and after The Great Transcontinental Escapade (hereafter known as TGTE). There are a lot of creature comforts that I would use in a week. It takes effort to maintain my Ahuva-ness. Unfortunately, the TSA gets very crabby when you try to take an entire suitcase of lotions and potions onboard the aircraft. I’m only taking a carry-on bag because I’m traveling light. *grin* I’m sure my definition of light is not Honour’s definition of light. Jus’ sayin’. By the way – did I mention that I’m flying first class? I’m worth it, you know. 🙂

I solved my lotions and potions issue by shipping a box of shampoo, conditioners, gel, creams etc. to Honour earlier this week. Do you realize how much it costs to ship from the US to Canada???? I was taken aback. Not only did I have to open the box so we could remove the spray bottle, but I had to list every single item in the box. I confess – it was a little embarrassing how many hair products I had in the box. *red face* My box has to go through customs and so everything in it has to be listed on the outside. Soooooo glad I won’t have to see the custom officer’s face as the box is inspected. The tab was roughly $100 to ship approximately $20 worth of product. *grin* On the other hand, I don’t have to carry them (“they’re heavy” she whined) and I don’t have to deal with the TSA. I quite like this solution.

I like this approach so much that I’m utilizing it again today. I went to the AAA yesterday and got maps and a trip tik and the books about hotels and other road information. I picked up 6 maps to cover Canada and Maine and the complementary books and the trip tik – all free. Today I go back to FedEx to ship them rather than carry them on board with me. 🙂 My father -A”h – would be appalled at this approach. (When the toll on the Henry Hudson bridge went from 10 cents to a quarter, he insisted that we go the long way around and take the Moshulu Parkway, which was FREE, rather than pay that outrageous additional fifteen cents.) But hey – I’m WORTH it. And I’m tucking in a few more lotions and potions with the maps.

Don’t tell Honour, but I shipped a trunk of shoes as well. You never know which shoes you might want to be wearing as you travel across country in an SUV with 2 cats, a dog, and an avatar. A woman likes to have choices, you know? And I’m worth it.

money down the drain

Define “Repaired”. Because Dell Computers has no clue

Dell, Secondlife and I have a problem. I’m sure that the 2 of them don’t care, but I do. So my gorgeous gaming laptop, the famed and fabled Alienware M17x came back today – “repaired”, or so Dell claims. I headed into SL, turned the graphics up to high, and set out. Only took about 10 minutes before the video failed. The screen goes black, then it turns white, then I get a box (that fades fairly quickly) telling me that the drivers failed, but they have “successfully recovered”. Really? I don’t think so.
How Dell Repairs Video Cards
Why is it Dell’s problem? Because from now on I intend to tell everyone all over how Dell is incapable of offering proper support for configuring their gaming computers. And because I believe that they are not telling me truth about this repair. I have PAID for in-home support. That means they are supposed to come to my home and replace parts while I am watching. They refused to do this and demanded that I send the laptop to them for “analysis”. I did. I shipped it out Thursday afternoon and saw that they received it Friday. It was back in my house on Tuesday. That means they shipped it Monday. Really? You performed analysis over the weekend? Why do I find that hard to believe? The piece of paper claims they replaced/repaired my video card. I find that incredibly difficult to believe. It’s hard to believe because they didn’t have it long enough. Because when I turn on the computer and head into SL, the fans immediately make more noise than a helicopter coming in for a landing. Because it only took 10 minutes to crash out the M17x.

Why do I think this is Dell’s problem, not SL’s? I bought a new laptop 3 weeks ago. Nothing fancy – an Ideapad Y580. Guess what. It runs SL at Ultra graphics, quietly, smoothly and without crashing. That’s right, Dell. A mere Ideapad laptop whips your famed fabled premiere gaming laptop.

Yeah, when I have the time and energy I’ll call Dell’s Customer Service. I’ll undoubtedly have to beg and fight my way to talk to someone who actually knows something about their Alienware brand. That’s another big runaround that I get from their Customer Support. The techs say “oh yes, I know that”. Only after something happens, like last year, when the machine caught fire, do I find out that I’m dealing with people who have no special knowledge of Alienware.

I’m so disgusted with Dell. I have been a loyal customer for over 6 years. All of our computers were Dells or the Alienware until I bought the Ideapad. I have a year left on my contract with them. I’ll send them the AW every single week for the next year until they make it work properly for my needs. Don’t tell me it’s SL. You should be so ashamed, Dell. Expect to hear from me. Every single week, if not every day.

It’s going to be one heck of a year.

And She’ll have fun, fun, fun

Spirit of Arcadia
til the vid’yo takes her laptop away….. yep. The NVIDIA graphics cards are failing yet again on my Alienware M17x. I’m getting a “Display driver stopped responding and has recovered” message. Except SL never recovers. I need to logout, reboot, and come back in. The rest of that is Display driver NVIDIA Windows Kernel Mode Driver, Version 197.84 stopped responding and has successfully recovered. Well, not completely it hasn’t. So – is it SL or is it NVIDIA? My drivers are up-to-date for the Alienware. Sigh. This is after my video cards caught fire last year and I needed the insides replaced. I really thought there was nothing that an Alienware couldn’t conquer. 😦

In the meantime…. having some fun while I still can….. I’m an Engineer!!! That’s me with my very own Spirit of Arcadia, found in the Steam the Hunt 8. This engine is scripted to run on SLRR – the Second Life Railroad. Just rez it up and go for a ride! It includes a note card that lists RR rezzing stations as well as instructions for handling. Many thanks to Troy Waxen, co -curator of the Arcadia Asylum Living Library in Makazi for providing this wonderful prize! I need to find the proper attire for my new career…..

Caine’s Arcade

Caine's Arcade Hook - from Nirvan Mullick's video

Caine's Arcade Hook - from Nirvan Mullick's video


cainesarcade.com

This is a video about an incredibly imaginative, creative, determined 9 year old boy living in East LA who built his own game arcade out of cardboard boxes, tape, string and other odds and ends. Caine built his arcade in his dad’s store. Caine’s dad sells auto parts, mostly via the internet, so there wasn’t much walk-in traffic to see the arcade. Until Nirvan Mullick came looking for a part. And found the arcade.

Nirvan was inspired to make a short film about Caine and generated a flash mob to come and play. This 11 minute film will make your heart soar. Look at the smile on that child. Look at the intelligence, the determination, the joy.

Ahuva’s “Pie”

I gave you my little “prayer” in my last post. It’s Epic Poem time. My apologies to Don McLean. I’ve gotten this far, I’m asking for help with verses! Sure, we can stretch it a bit – it doesn’t have to be limited to just MY heartbreak….

Ahuva’s “Pie”

A long, long time ago
I can still remember how
My laptop used to make me smile
And I knew if I had my way
I could be in SL and play
And maybe I’d be happy for awhile
But the Dell tech came to help me
No such luck, he came up empty
Smoke came from my laptop
Along with a loud Snap! Pop!
I know that I began to cry
When I realized my machine had fried
And that thing made me lose my mind
The day my laptop died….

So

[chorus]
Why, why did my laptop just die?
Called the help desk for a problem but support came up dry
Them good ole boys I guess they gave it a try
But the video card – it just fried
The video card, it just fried.

Did you play virtual games
Do you think all video’s the same
If the help desk tells you so?
Now do you believe in Alienware?
Game for hours without a care?
Can you teach me how to mouse like a pro?

Well, believe I’m lost without my ‘chine
I can’t rez prims or cam the scene
You all claim that you’re sad
But as for me, I’m getting mad
I was a happy rezzing avatar
Dancing away in my favorite bar
But I knew things had gone too far
The day my laptop died
I started singin’

[chorus]


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