Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Let There be ROCK!

Back in my college days, I used to play a lot of music in the apartment. A lot of loud music. Extremely loud, to the point where I was threatened with a call to the police if I didn't knock it off. Point taken, no need to involve the po-po.

The stereo I had set up was quite capable of causing conversations that went something like this:

Me: "Hey, give me a beer!"

Other Person: yelling "What?"

Me: yelling "Give me a beer!"

OP: yelling "What?"

Me: pointing to fridge "Give me a fvcking beer!"

OP: yelling "What?"

Me: yelling "Your mom really needs to shave her back, now give me a beer!"

OP: yelling "What?"

Me: yelling "Is that your sister? She's hot! Can I have her number?"

OP: yelling "What?"

And on and on. The volume was either low or blaring, usually blaring. That's what college is all about. I listen to a lot of different music, from rock & metal to classical & punk. I really can't stand country, except for Johnny Cash, but that's a whole different story. One of my roommates at the time loved Jimmy Buffet, and more often than not when I returned from class he had Cheeseburger in Paradise or some other song I now can't stand playing. God, how I hate Jimmy Buffet now. I didn't mind him at first, but the same stuff over and over from a roommate I also began to hate with a passion has a way of doing that to a guy.

To get to the point, I finally hooked up the speakers after about 15 years and discovered that they are still capable of being waaaaay too loud. They're the size of furniture, each weigh a good hundred pounds, and still pound out the bass. They'll go great in what will eventually become the TV/family room. After I get around to renovating it that is.

What I really like is how technology has changed since I last used the speakers. Back then, I had the receiver/amp, a CD player, tape player, and equalizer all hooked up into it, and had a couple of huge racks of CDs taking up floor space. Now it's just the receiver/amp and the iPod. All the CDs are in storage, the tapes are long gone, and everything is nice and neat. The equalizer may still be used in the future, but I'm not going to bother with that until I have the room done.

So here's to you, engineers responsible for designing the Cerwin Vega D-9 Loud Speaker! I raise a glass of Mountain Dew to you.

(the picture is from shortly after we moved, with these tanks stacked in the garage)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Come on Baby Light my Fire

Aaaah, if only it were a real fireplace... (notice the glow of the yuletide light bulb behind the plastic logs)

I still can't wait till I get to tear this crappy fake fireplace out. We've been using this 2nd family room as a work and storage room since we moved in, but with Christmas coming we need to make room in the main family room for the tree. Extra furniture and the computer can go in this room for a while. Before that happens, there is a LOT of cleaning to do - all the tools, boxes, new appliances, etc need to be moved around for room. Lots of fun . . .

This is also the room where the Great Mouse Eradication of '07 is taking place. My fear is that now that we've moved so much stuff around, that they'll go elsewhere. To help keep the odds in my favor I finally picked up the Victor snap-traps - 8 of 'em. 4 in this room, 4 in the basement ('cause I think they might be coming in there and then migrating upstairs), 2 in the garage, and 1 on the stairs. Yeah, I know that adds up to more than 8. Included in the counts are the crappy traps I've been using plus one covered trap for the stairs that the cat probably won't get caught in (and oh, I'd feel so bad if that were to happen...).

I've also looked at the TomCat traps in a little more detail and think I understand why they don't kill the mice quickly.

When the mouse trips the trap the jaws close quickly, but don't gain enough momentum and don't have a strong enough "snap" to really feed the mouse a cup of hot death. The Victor traps, on the other hand, use a thin metal bar which travels 180 degrees, allowing it to gain some good momentum. Plus, that bar is a lot thinner than the "jaws" of the TomCat trap meaning a more localized impact on the mouse. For a comparison, hit your hand with a rubber mallet and then with a regular hammer. Which hurts more? The smaller face of the hammer.

To test my theory (and look like either an idiot or a God to my kids), I put my finger in each trap. By far, the Victor trap scared me more before the experiment and did hurt a lot more. The TomCat didn't hurt at all, while the Victor trap hurt like hell.

Get ready mice, I'm bringin' the pain!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Tunnel Vision

There is more to life than killing mice. I've actually been doing a little extra work here and there to finish up some of the projects already started.

Trim was finished around the front door, garage was cleaned out, basement organized (a little), etc. Just nothing that really resembles a "project".

I still have a few outdoor projects to finish before winter really hits. Mulching the last of the leaves which finally fell, brining in the hoses, cleaning out the gutters. You know, fun stuff like that.

Oh, and Happy Birthday to my brother "Smudgemo". Here's your cake! Sorry it's late, blame dad.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Freddie Mercury? Two Minutes Till Showtime, Sir.

Ba da bup, bup, bup, another one bites the dust!

I wish I could say the mice are dropping like flies, but with only two dead varmint under my belt, I'm far from being the "Great White Hunter". And no, I don't really keep the dead ones under my belt. I keep 'em under my pillow like any normal person would.

I'll put some of the blame on the traps. I've had no "real" success with the sticky-traps, although they've been a lot of fun for me to play with. Stick finger to pad, pull finger off pad and giggle at how sticky it is. Repeat.

The snap-traps I got are the TomCat line.

They kind of suck - in a bad way. Too many times I've checked the traps only to find them empty of peanut butter. They're super-easy to set, but require too much weight to set 'em off. I did find that if I stick the peanut butter WAY onto the back of the trap's lever and on the main spring that it forces the moue to really get far into the trap which hopefully increases my KPD ratio. That's "kills-per-day", for those of you who don't read Mouse Killer's Digest (honest, I buy it for the articles!). It's in all the finer book stores and WalMarts.

If (when) I find one more trap licked clean I'm going back to the hardware store to get some good ol' fashioned wood base spring-traps-of-death. Trickier to set, but it's hard to beat how well they work.

Maybe I should try some cheese in the traps. I haven't seen this brand before, wonder if it's good...

Somebody with lots of expensive tools has too much time on his hands.

Score! One more mouse and one pilfered trap. I'm still making the call Jeff 3, Mice 0 (Since I'm not dead. Yet.)

Overnight, one more mouse. It's a blood-bath! Well, not really. And those traps really suck worse than I expected. I was hoping the first mouse was just a mutant, but all three mice I've got so far survived the trap and had to be taken for a swim to finish 'em off. I've never had to do that with the old Victor board traps. I'm going to get a couple today before the Packer game:

Not because I feel bad for the mice, but because I don't want mice paralyzed from the waste down crawling around the house demanding better parking spots. Jeff 4, Mice 0.

Cue the Count from Sesame Street: 1 dead mouse! 2 dead mice! 3 dead mice, hahahahaha! 4 dead mice! 5! 5 dead mice! Let me count them again!

I also had a neighbor e-mail me this f'd up little gem of a picture:

Awwww yeah, shake that tail if you want me to call you again!

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Mouse Went Out Fighting

Hopefully it's the only mouse, 'cause if it isn't, the other ones are smarter and I'm in trouble. It actually took two traps to catch this first one.

I wasn't sure if the sticky-traps would work, so I put a snap-trap right next to the sticky one in an area I was reasonably certain was in the mouse's regular path.

This morning, success! And confusion, since the mouse was caught in both the sticky and the snap traps. Front-half sticky, back-half snap. I don't know if it was just running past the snap and got caught or what exactly happened, but I chalk this one up as a Win for me!

So far, no signs of other mice.

The following bit of brilliance was stolen from "The House and I" blog, obviously proving that I'm not the only one with too much free time. I'm almost tempted to use this as my new screen background.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Stupid Mice, 1. More Stupider Jeff, 0.

Now they're just screwing with me. I checked the traps and found the furry little bastards took my peanut butter bait from one of the snap traps. Last I checked, I am still not running a bed & breakfast for rodents!

Based on comments from my previous post about the mouse (mice?) in my house I was going to be civil and put some food on the sticky-trap, along with a Sudoku puzzle to keep 'em fed and entertained while waiting for the hammer. Now I'm just going to use a bigger hammer.

They keep this up and I'm going to re-watch the end of Fargo to get some more ideas on how to best handle this little problem.

Don't make me go all Peter Stormare / Steve Buscemi on your asses, mice! (Fargo reference)

If it makes you feel better, pretend I'm talking about this Hammer:

Are These Freakin' Leaves Glued On?

Alright, it's almost the middle of November and I still have trees which haven't dropped even close to all of their leaves.

At this rate I'll be raking leaves in December.

This tree is still changing colors!

If it doesn't get with the program and drop the leaves this week I'll consider removing them by force. Mr Maple Tree, meet Mr Chainsaw. Unfortunately, this tree is all that blocks our house from cars which could otherwise run directly from the adjacent street straight into our house. I was told that a few years ago the FedEx guy came close to it due to icy roads, and that the previous owners of the house were paid well for the "damage" to the lawn.

Monday, November 12, 2007

I Hates Meeces to Pieces

Stupid little mouse, running through my peripheral vision. That's the first and last time you make that mistake.

A quick trip to Menards and I'm ready for you and your varmint friends. I got sticky-traps, snap-traps, and poison. I'm going to kill all you little fvckers one way or another!

We'll see if those sticky-traps are worth their salt, I've never tried them. One thing I know I didn't want is to put a snap-trap on the stovetop, so I put a sticky-trap up there to see if my hunch is correct, that they're getting up there. I'm actually looking forward to waking up early tomorrow to check out the traps. I'm hoping to see some carnage!

Snap-traps are going inside some of the base cabinets and other out of the way areas. At least out of the way enough to make it look like an accident when the cat finds one... (my wife doesn't read this, I'm safe)

The poison is going in the garage, and I'll probably put some stick-traps around the car as well. It won't see any road time once the weather gets bad enough and I don't want those furry little bastards chewing through the top or in some other way wrecking the car.

Updates as warranted... I think a body-count is in order.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Giving Thanks Where Thanks are Due

A quick Thank You to all past, present, and future members of our Armed Services and their families.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Water, Water, Everywhere, and None is Fit to Drink

So I'm being all domestic and crap yesterday doing a couple loads of laundry and some dishes. All is going as well as can be expected, what with doing dishes and laundry, until I head downstairs to move the laundry to the dryer. As I round the corner I notice water on the floor around the floor drain. Hey, that's not supposed to be there! I figure it was just a burp in the line and think little more of it after I cleaned it up and mopped around the drain with bleach (I do not want to know what was in the drain). In goes another load of laundry and back to the dishes and other misc work. I come back down in a half hour and find even more water on the floor than the last time! SHIT! I did what little I could to find out what's blocking the line, but I know I don't have the tools or expertise to fix this. I have to call an expert.

Not knowing what it'll take to overflow the line and not wanting to risk a cesspool swimming pool in the basement, I look for a way to block the drain. My rationale tells me that if the floor drain is blocked, the water in the drain would need to back up far enough to start filling the laundry tub. Much better option than having the whole floor covered. I don't have anything to plug the drain, so I go to Plan B. I pulled an extra toilet wax-ring off the shelf of renovation supplies and seat it over the floor drain. On top of that goes a 5 gallon bucket filled with water. It sealed nicely and kept any extra moisture under ground where it belongs. That was all yesterday.

Today, I call a local plumber figuring I might as well keep the money local if possible. They say they'll have somebody over between 3:00 and 5:00. The guy was right on time (actually 5 minutes early at 2:55) and got to work. First, a 50' power-snake was sent down through the floor drain. From what we could tell, it looked like the blockage was under the foundation of the house and would probably come out easily. He was running water through the drain the whole time to make sure it flushed through, and eventually that water started backing up. The blockage was farther down the line towards the street. He moved the snake to the cleanout closest to the road, about 20' closer than he was previously, and ran it through again. No dice, it's still blocked. Out comes the big gun, a 100' power snake with a rotating blade which will cut through roots, turds, or whatever it hits. It takes him almost all 100', but he finally hits the blockage and everything suddenly flushes through. This evil-looking tool scrapes the whole pipe clean of build-up, so we should be good for many more nights of Mexican food.

Total cost: $145.00 to keep the pipes flowing. Not bad, considering I was going to run a 30' snake through it to see if I could find the blockage. Looking back, that wouldn't have done jack squat, so it's $145.00 well spent.

I had another guy from the same company come out an hour later to test our water (the first guy only snakes drains, the second guy does the "less crappy" work. I wanted to get an estimate on replacing the water softener with one made since the Kennedy Administration, and also wanted to get a price on an iron filter and water heater replacement. I could probably do all this install work myself, but that'd be a LOT of plumbing work and I don't think I want to load my plate that much right now. In round numbers, it'll run $1,000 for a new larger water softener (the water measured 25 grains directly from the well) and $1,750 for the iron filter. He said our water only measures 1 ppm of iron which he said is pretty low, but he's either wrong or the iron was hiding, 'cause we got waaaay to freakin' much iron in the water. Add to this another $200 to upgrade our existing supply lines to 1". That should help provide a more consistent pressure, which would be nice. Nothing says fun like somebody flushing a toilet while you're in the shower and having the pressure drop to next to nothing...

I had him quote me a replacement water heater as well, something which I have planned to do myself. There's another $1,000 which includes a slightly larger gas water heater and fixing the code "issues" for the current gas supply line. On top of that, I'll either need to spend $400 to put a chimney liner in (the furnace doesn't use the chimney anymore, and there isn't enough heat from the water heater to burn out the winter moisture - not a good thing for the chimney) or spend that $400 to convert the new gas water heater to a power vent model which would vent out the side of the house. Probably better to go with the power vent, even though it'll mean a little more electrical work for me. That way I could tear the chimney down and patch the roof to hide the fact that there ever was one. That would also eliminate a very likely place for the roof to leak. No matter how I slice it, to fully upgrade the water system in the house it'll cost me just over $4,000. We'll see what happens, stay tuned.