Dec 26, 2011

TURDUCKEN!

Since we were going to host Christmas Dinner this year, I decided to go "all in" on dinner and make the ultimate over indulgent Main course: TURDUCKEN!

We stopped by the Butcher the week before to order the birds.  There was a small piece of me that hoped they could bone the birds for me.  Unfortunately, they told me I was out of luck.

The birds were picked up the Friday before Christmas (Christmas Eve Eve) and left in the fridge overnight.  Saturday Morning (Christmas Eve) would become "boning day."

First up was the Turkey.  This was the hardest task as it still needed to look nice for presentation.  The saving grace was that it was also the biggest bird.  about 30 minutes later, I had a Turkey with only drumsticks and wings still attached.

The Duck was next, and took slightly longer as it was also the first of the completely boned birds.  The drumsticks went fairly smoothly, but I just cut off the wings: that would have been insanely hard and left me with not much meat to show for it.

Finally, I tackled the chicken.  This took about 15 and was probably the best boned bird of the bunch.  Again, I just cut off the wings and saved them for a dinner to be named later.  Three birds boned in under two hours, not bad!

Next came the stuffing and sewing together.  I made what I thought was a generous amount of stuffing...but apparently not!  I placed the turkey breast down on the cutting board to stuff it.  After laying the stuffing 1/4" thick, I realized I did not have enough.  Who would have though 6 cups of bread crumbs would not make enough stuffing!  I had to skimp on the next layers, but it probably worked out for the best as I'm not sure my family are huge stuffing fans.

Robyn helped me sew this monstrosity shut.  I made the executive decision to NOT flip the bird back over so the breast was on the top, which I am slightly still kicking myself for.











[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Pre-sewed Turducken"][/caption]
From Dec 2011

I took the over 25 pounds of meat and put in the oven for 5 hours...NOT.  LONG.  ENOUGH.  The recipe said that it should take only 3...Paula Deen, why did you lie to me!?

We ended up Cutting the bird into Thirds to encourage the final 10 degrees to show up, which they did.











[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="400" caption="Upside down Finished Turducken."][/caption]
From Dec 2011

 

Final Verdict: DELICIOUS.

It was quite a bit of work, but given the right circumstances (like a holiday : ) ) I would do this again.

I would definitely allot for more cooking time and try to bring them together the day before.

 

 

 

Nov 25, 2011

Turkey Trot: AWESOME

The Turkey Trot was great this year.

I started out the day by participating in the 40th Annual Turkey Trot.  I chose to run the 2.5 mile "fun run" instead of the "serious" 4.4 miler.

Considering I run 3 miles every day, I was more worked up than I anticipated.  It probably had something to do with the OVER 4800 RUNNERS that were there!

I rode my bike over to the race since it was less than 2 miles away and since it was a beautiful day, I had a hard time convincing myself NOT to bike.  I arrived just about an hour before my race.

I couldn't believe the number of people and the energy of the event!  Several speakers setup for music and race announcements, tents for check in, dozens of port-a-potties, Race bag drop off, and crates of apples from the local orchard.  Amazing.  The MC was welcoming the runners and their families, and directing people to the correct starting lines.  She also made sure to alert the runners that the finish line in the park was "a little muddy" and to be careful.

The 4.4 mile race began down the road from the 2.5 start line.  Looking down at runners made me feel like I was staring down a charging army of Mordor...

I ran into a few people I know from work and from my past who were also running in the 2.5. It was exciting to see them, but I was slightly paralyzed and didn't converse as much as I wanted to: Partly because I assumed their body language was that of Cordiality.  So it goes.

After the 4.4 participants ran by the 2.5 start line, the rest of the fun runners began to line up.  There were several Pilgrims, indians, and Turkeys lined up: I even saw two Thanksgiving Dinner tables lined up!  The announcer pumped up the crowd with primal grunts interspersed with directions on where to go: If you are running get in the road, otherwise get out of the road.

He screamed go, and everyone took off.  Families hugged the right side to allow the "serious" (read 10-year-old kids) runners by.  I started out fairly conservatively in the middle of the pack.  shortly after the first turn, I realized I needed to pick up the pace just to get into stride with my daily rhythm.

Soon after that, I caught up with the serious squads who were all walking and breathing heavy.  I smiled and gave a little chuckle towards their excitement and enthusiasm.

After another turn or two, the 2.5 milers merged with the 4.4 milers.  As we approached the park, I recalled the earlier warning of a slightly muddy finish line.  As we ran up past the tennis courts, I saw the wooded trail that led down to the finish line.  As I started my decent, I noticed the lack of mud.  "Well, this isn't too bad." I thought.  The more interesting part of the hill was avoiding the roots and damp leaves.

Reaching the bridge I turned right towards the home stretch and glanced at the finish line: The ground before it was reflecting a bit of light...

.."slightly muddy" apparently means "One giant puddle that stretches about 200 feet out from the finish line."  I initially tried to avoid the puddle, but soon realized there was no denying I was going to get wet...and muddy...very wet and muddy.  I picked up the pace and began to sprint to the finish.  I looked at the clock as I crossed the line.  It read over 28 minutes, which seemed really wrong.  Turns out, that was the 4.4 clock.

I paced around, drinking several glasses of water before starting the climb back up the hill to grab my bike.  I got home, showered and got ready to spend the rest of the day with great family.

I checked the race site after getting home from dinner to see how I did: 19:03 and second in my Age Class!  The first place in my age was about 16 minutes...so I've got some training to do for next year!  And I do plan on running next year...maybe as a bowl of Mashed Potatoes...

 

Nov 22, 2011

Getting ready.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. It is one of the holidays where families get together to enjoy a good meal and each other's company without the obligation of purchasing a gift.

I want Christmas to be like that. I think I say that now because I can't afford to buy expensive gifts for everyone in my family.

There has always been this part of me that wants to have a homemade Christmas. The kind where you get together early in the morning to prepare to Christmas dinner, hang out for the day drinking coffee, and eventually wine...just soaking in the time together.  Then, once we've had a little time to digest, open homemade presents that have real feeling behind them.  I'm not saying you can't have an emotional response to a new drill, but I just have a feeling opening a box of homemade cookies, bread, or handmade candle might give a slightly more personal, moving response...

I think that's what I want, but if given the opportunity, would I do it?  it's hard when you have kids to get out the door for an entire day.  I know Anya doesn't really sleep/nap well anywhere but in her bed.  Couple that with even if she did sleep, there might be too much noise to stay asleep.

Homemade gifts are harder not only because you essentially have an "amateur" making the gift, it then has to be something the person wants.  It isn't hard to do, but requires to actually KNOW the person.

Do they like chocolate chip cookies, but LOVE chocolate Chip with walnut cookies?

What if they don't bake properly?  What if the Candle turns an undesirable color?  What if?  What if?

That's the issue I'm facing, the "what if" dilemma.  I want to make and give gifts people will LOVE, not just like.  I WANT to know them well enough to make something they will fondly remember, and (not so secretly) hope they receive again next year, or something very similar.

 

Maybe some year, we'll do that...maybe.

Nov 20, 2011

Almost forgot!

I haven't posted a link to the Baby Peterson 2.0 album on Picasa yet.  So, here is the link!









Baby Peterson 2.0

And then there was three...

Tons to move that is!

Since both the Bills and Vikings games were depressing, I made two quick back-to-back trips to TSC and managed to get one ton of pellets in my garage in under an hour.

Stacking said ton took about as long.

I am now tired.  I also realized that I don't have the room to store too many more bags there.

Maybe I can make a run once a month to get the remainder, or get another pallet to put another Ton in the basement.

At least for now, we have over 50 bags in the basement.  That should get us through the holidays...I hope!

A good way to move 4 tons by yourself...

That is my current dilemma.

I have 4 tons of pellets on four pallets waiting for me to pickup at the local TSC.

The manager there has been kind enough to let me keep them there, but that might not always be the case.

I need to come up with a way to move those four tons from TSC to our house, about a 7 mile trip.

Here is how it works now:

  1. Open pallet, and take half of the pallet (25 bags) and load them into the back of my Sonoma.

  2. Drive 7 miles home.

  3. Take 25 bags and stack them on pallet in the basement/outside.

  4. Repeat.


This way is the easiest from a logistical point of view: I only need to have the time move 1000 pounds around.

Grabbing the pellets this way would mean another EIGHT trips to TSC to bring the pellets home.

That is a lot of trips, and a lot of man power (from me).  The other thing with this plan means the pallets need to be opened, which means they are no longer sealed from the elements.  If I continue this way, I would need to store all the pellets in the basement and/or garage.  I like the idea of having the pellets still sealed during the winter.  If I don't pick up the pellets until January, they are just sitting outside in the elements anyway...

Here's my ideal situation:

  1. Fork lift the 4 tons into a truck.

  2. Drive truck 7 miles.

  3. Use another fork lift to get them off the truck.

  4. Store pellet pallets on the backside of my house.

  5. Move pallets inside one at time.


The only issue with this plan is I do not have a Fork lift..

I could rent a pallet jack, but the wheel width would be too wide for a normal rental truck loading ramp.

I guess a makeshift ramp could be constructed...

This now adds ~$100 to the price.  Not a deal breaker by any stretch, but I'm not a big fan of spending MORE money if it can be avoided.

I want to find a solution that is easy for me to do without having to rely on several friends to come help move my solid fuel source.  I'd also like to find a solution that isn't dependent on my truck, as it is now approaching 12 years old...I'm not sure how long Vera will be with us (hopefully 2-3 years).

I'm thinking about delivery services for next year.  I would need a pellet chute and a place to store them.

I smell a new spring project!

As far as my remaining 4 tons, anyone have an idea?

Nov 18, 2011

Stove Update: still rocking!

Ever since the last time I "fixed" the seal, the stove has been running great: The temperature in the house has hovered above 75 even when outside it is below freezing!

The only issue I have is I need to remember to fill the stove before bed!  Two mornings I've woken up without heat on...

 

I smell a calendar entry coming!

Nov 17, 2011

Should I be scared?

Anya watching Dora

You know it is going to be a good day

When you walk into work and have voicemail from half of your staff saying they will be out...

Whatever is going around is kicking my team's butt.  Not good!

 

Another day of one tech, and one manager trying to do the work of 5...

Finally Scheduled!

Well, it only took two months, three or four visits from the sales consultant, two visits from the technician who will be doing the work, and one office visit, but we finally have dates for our home insulation installation!

 

They say it will take six days to do all the work, which doesn't sound too bad.

Here's a rundown of what we're having done:

  • Blow in insulation into attic space above kitchen and pantry

  • Blow in insulation into attic space above the office and stove room

  • Blow in insulation into attic space above the second floor bedrooms

  • Installing Soffit vents and baffles in Attic space above kitchen and pantry

  • Sealing the rim joists in the basement

  • Blowing insulation underneath the Kitchen

  • Blowing insulation into the walls on the north side of the house*


*Not sure if this will actually be done, as we discovered on the south side that the walls are an odd construction.

This all begins on December 5th, and should finish on the 12th.  Hooray for properly sealed house!

Nov 13, 2011

Gutters are NOT fun.

I had to buy a ladder today to clean my front gutters.

Apparently a 16' ladder is adequate, but i should have sprung for the 20'.

 

Picking wet, heavy leaves out of your gutters is not as much fun as it sounds.  It doesn't help that while you are perched upon said ladder you are convinced that the next scoop will be the scoop that topples you off the ladder.

I survived, and my gutters are clean.

Take that front trees!

I also installed two emergency overflow pipes; one on my water heater and one on my hopefully-not-going-to-turn-this-on-at-all boiler.

Now to relax, and muster up the will to rake my front yard, again.

 

Nov 12, 2011

Walking Dead: A good show

While I was waiting for the (non-existent) trick-or-treaters to show up, I decided I wanted to watch a Halloween-type show.

I surfed through Netflix, and came across Walking Dead.

I just finished the first season, and I'm digging it.  The atmosphere is great.  I'm really getting interested in the main characters, and have strong feelings about them, like Shane is a Dick, a Psychotic Dick...

but I digress.

 

I've heard from people who said this show doesn't do the Graphic Novel Justice.  I heard the same thing about Watchmen, but enjoyed both for what they were.

The overall desperate atmosphere of the show permeates the entire show.  The stress of trying to survive is affecting each character in a different way.

 

I'm really interested to see where this goes.  I'd also be interested to see where it did go with the original Graphic Novel.

Dinner Party: Success!

Yesterday was a great day.  Great dinner, great friends, great time.

I got up around 6am and began preparing for "The Feast."  The turkey wasn't quite thawed, so it was placed in a cool water bath for a couple hours to encourage it to finish thawing.  The bread starter was removed from the refrigerator to warm up, and the coffee was made.

By the time it was all said and done, there were seven separate dish washing sessions...but it was all worth it.

The Menu was as such:

Starters



  • Kale Corn Fritters w/ Applesauce

  • Escarole and white bean soup

  • Fresh baguette

  • Pumpkin Bread

  • Brendan's Sweet Potato Muffins with Marshmallows on top


Main Course



  • Apple/Fennel stuffed Turkey with Garlic butter glaze

  • Fresh Cranberry Sauce

  •  Stuffed Acorn Squash

  • Mashed Potatoes

  • Turkey Neck gravy

  • Cauliflower in white sauce


Dessert



  • Ugly, Yet Tasty Pumpkin Pie


Overall, everything was Delicious!  I wish my pie looked better, but the taste was spot on.  Next time I will make sure to let the filling rest and try to skim the foam off the top better.  I also need to figure out a better way to make graham cracker crusts, as the bottom edge was very thick.

Everyone enjoyed the food, and left with several container/plates of leftovers, yet my fridge is still overflowing!

I think this might need to be a yearly occurrence.

UP next: Turduken for Christmas??!

Nov 10, 2011

Home insulation saga continues - Updated!

I'll have to write-up a longer piece about our experiences with getting our home's insulation upgraded, but here's a quick recap:

  • The company we are working through (a well-known and acceptable company)kinda sucks at communicating.

  • It involved an excessive (in my mind) amount of home visits.

  • They are having "Mike" stop by to double/triple check that the work can actually do the work they said they can do. (Work we have put a down payment on).


Now Mike has another job at 8:30 today and will be swinging by "before then" to check that they can actually blow in the insulation in our attic.

For their sake, I hope they actually told Mike...

UPDATE: I like Mike.  Mike is a nice guy.

Mike was here right around 8, and quickly explained what he was here to do.  He has concerns about the tile ceiling in our two bedrooms on the second floor.  He was not sure if there was drywall behind the tiles.  If there is not, the blown-in insulation could cause the slopes to bow in.

After taking a quick peek, Mike confirmed the sloped walls will bow in.  He is going to write-up a new quote to include putting drywall up in the two rooms upstairs.

Unfortunately, this means another discussion with our Sales Consultant, Norm.

I'll explain Norm in another post.

Let's just say, I wish I could only have to deal with Mike.

 

Sluggish Run

Today's run sucked.

Or at least it felt like it did.

Occasionally I have these running "sessions" where it feels like I'm running through Molasses while running on sand against the wind.

I did not time this run, but I doubt it was anything more than two minutes off my usual time.

 

Nov 7, 2011

Quiet Running

The past three days, I was without my headphones.  I left them at work on Friday and didn't feel like turning around and getting them after I realized this halfway home.  I didn't think too much of it, until I got up to go running Saturday morning.

I always run with my headphones.  I'm either listening to a podcast about technology, listening to an audiobook, or just plain old Music.

The three days without my headphones was an experience.

The first thing I noticed was my breathing: I could hear it and focused on it.  I was trying to not take short, shallow breaths.  I had to try NOT to focus...I thought the noises from Nature would help distract...

...but it was eerily quiet.  Besides the occasional car, there were essentially no other noises.  Nothing.

I do know where all the dogs live now :)

 

Nov 6, 2011

"I'm sorry my dog bit you, here's a coffee cake.."

"Did you bake a cake?" Robyn asked, as she walked in the door.

I paused the Beauty and the Beast Soundtrack on Pandora.

"What?"  I asked, slightly puzzled.

"There's a cake in the garage.  Did you bake it and put it there?"

I walked over to the door.

"No." I said "I was planning on making an apple cake/crisp.."

I looked out our door and saw an aluminum foil-wrapped plate on top of my tool box.

"Uh, if you didn't, then who did.  Did my mom drop it off maybe?" Robyn asked, trying to piece together the cake mystery.

I picked up the still warm plate and peaked under the foil.  It smelled of melted butter, cinnamon, and nutmeg: An almost picture perfect classic coffee cake.

"Oh.." I said, with a slight sigh. "I bet this is from across the street.  A way to say 'Sorry my dog bit you, have a coffee cake.'"

 

A couple of hours earlier, I had gone out to check the mailbox.  On my way to the mailbox, one of the three dogs that lives across the street started running toward me. I looked up, waved and said hi to the dog, and proceeded to grab my mail.

The dog continued to come closer, making its way to the middle of the road.
"Well, that's not a good place to hang out." I said calmly to the dog.

The dog had laid down on the yellow line in the middle of the road, in what appeared to be a quasi-friendly way.   One of the dog's owners came out and started calling for the dog.

"I'm sorry about that!  The batteries are dead in the collar and the thing has been unplugged for a while" she said, motioning to the little outbuilding where the electric fence base station is.

"Oh no problem!" I said cheerfully.  "I"m trying to convince her the road isn't a good place to lay down."

I put my hands down at my side, the two junk letters in my left hand.  I put my palms towards the dog, in trying to show her I was unarmed or something.  I made a little "come on" motion with my left hand as I slowly walked towards the dog in trying to coax it out of the road.

That's when the dog's demeanor changed.  The dog hunched back a bit, and lowered its ears. I stopped moving forward and took one step back.  At this point I was within striking distance.  The dog made one quick bark and lunged at my left arm.  I my arm back, and the dog bit my left leg above the knee and just before the hamstring.

"GRah!" I spurted out.  It surprised me more than anything else.  I was wearing my Carhart pants, which are fairly thick.

"Oh my goodness" my neighbor said in shock.  "I'm so sorry!"

"It's alright, I don't think there was any permanent damage, just a startle."  I said, in trying to calm her down.

At this point the dog had sneaked its way back to its own yard.  My neighbor kept repeating how sorry she was and how she shouldn't have done that.

"It's alright, I don't think she even got me.  No harm, no foul." I said with a slight laugh.

I went back inside and relayed the story to Robyn.  She was more concerned than I was, but she was thinking more about dogs and Kids.

"What if it gets loose while the kids are riding bikes in the driveway?" Robyn asked.

"I don't know."  I replied, trying to find the best answer.  "Have a taser handy?"

"All I know is this:  Electric fences are terrible." I stated.

"Yeah, and we have TWO of them surrounding us."  Robyn said.  "Alright, I'm off to JoAnn's."

"Alright.  Have fun.  Love you!" I said as she was walking to the door.

"Love you too.  See you later."  She said.

I took a look at the bite: It barely broke the skin.  It looked more like a small spot of rug burn.  I put some beta dine, and Neosporin on the area, put a bandaid on and went about my day.

Nov 5, 2011

Contacts Free

A few months back, I was on my last pair of contacts.

Seeing as it had been over three years since I got my one-year supply, I decided to call an optometrist and get my eyes checked out.

One of the benefits working at a Medical Center is that if you are looking for any kind of doctor, they are most likely there.  It makes getting to appointments easy: no need to worry about finding a place to park, just walk down!

I met with the nice Doctor and she did her eye Doctor thing.  Twenty minutes later, she told me my earlier prescription was too strong, and was probably too strong when I got it.  She recommended I get new glasses after seeing the battle worn glasses I brought in.

I asked her about contacts.  She'd be more than happy to fit me for contacts; all it required was a fitting fee and more money.

The practical (read: cheap) side of me starting butting in the internal monologue I was having.  If I had to get new glasses anyway, why get contacts as well?  If I decided that glasses weren't the thing for me on a daily basis, I could easily just stop down for another appointment and pay the fee.

Practicality usurped control and I just ordered glasses. It was hard to decided on a pair that I liked.  I knew I didn't want too thick framed or too large of a lens: I had flashbacks to my seventh grade picture with the glasses that ran halfway down my cheeks.  I also didn't want to pay a crapton for frames.

Side note: just like cars and houses, after looking a 30 or 40 pairs of glasses, they all look the same.  It helps to take notes and go back after a day or so to compare.

I finally decided on a frame and began the purchasing process.  Without any discounts, the glasses should have cost $460!

Thankfully, insurance kicked in $60 (sarcasm), I got an employee discount, and got a "game card" that got me an extra 15% off.

 

When it was all said and done, it ended up around $250...not bad.  Not great, but when you factor in time off from work increase, the employee discount and gas to drive, I don't know if I could have done much better.

 

So far, I'm liking just doing the glasses.  I do have to clean my lenses so I can see periodically, but I like it.  The only time I don't like wearing glasses is running, as they have a tendency to fog up and bounce a bit.  I suppose I could get a glasses strap to help keep the in place...

I could also get a pocket protector while I'm at it too...

Oh Spam Comments

According to my Spam comments, my About page has helped hundreds of people, with professional advice, witty comments, and served as a meeting of the minds.

 

Oh, and a great place to comment on here to find the cheapest drugs and the oddest Adult oriented sites...

 

I should probably clean out the spam more often...

Nov 4, 2011

Should be an interesting Weekend

I left my laptop and iPad at work today.

This will make for a quiet weekend.  Probably not a bad thing, I have a Quasi-Thanksgiving to plan!

 

Woke up this morning to no power in the house.  Didn't realize it at first, and fell back asleep.

 

Woke up again...to a blinking alarm clock.  By the time I got the stove back up and running and the animals fed, there was no way I had time to go running.

 

Looks like it'll be a weekend of running for me!

Stove is running fine

I think I have the stove running pretty good now.

After resealing every joint in the exhaust and the door, I think it is finally airtight.  I'm not happy with the amount of silicone in the door gasket, but as long as it works for now, I'll take it.

I fired up the stove after the sealing and the draft fan sensor turned off, which means the loss in pressure was gone!  I still had an issue with the pellets just piling up in the burn pot.  After about 12 hours, the pot would be over flowing, and the bottom would be covered in "clinkers" or fused ash.  This clogs the air holes which causes the flame to be lazy, as well as not allow ash to be trapped in the ash trap.

So, I also modified the draft fan thresholds a bit.  The Factory setting is 100 for low, and 300 for high.  I wish I knew what the units were, cfm maybe?

Anyway, after adjusting it to 170/315, the flame seems to be more stable, and the pellets are not piling up in the burn pot like they were on the default settings.  If anything, I might need to turn it down just a bit; I think the flame may be too active.  Although, my ash is nice and chocolate in color, a good sign the stove is running fairly efficient.

I'm sure that this will be an ongoing thing, but for now...I have heat :)

 

Nov 3, 2011

Turkey-Day Running!

I decided to sign up for the 40th Annual Turkey Trot Run in Webster this year.  I chose the "2.5 miler fun run" instead of the 4.4 miler.  I figure, it may be Turkey day, but I don't want to go too crazy.

I know I could do both, but the run prohibits headphones.  I always run with headphones.  I'm sure I would be fine, but I like to listen to an audio book or podcast to help keep my mind active slightly distracted.  When I don't run with headphones, I tend to analyze my run too much, and end up making it worse.

I focus on my breathing, and how it should be longer/deeper, or that my stride is not Gazelle enough.

 

If this goes well, maybe I'll do the 4.4 next year.

Almost 20 weeks!

Robyn has another midwife appointment today.  This will be the 20 week checkup...

I can't believe it is already 20 weeks in!  This appointment won't include the Ultrasound; we couldn't find a time that worked to have them back to back.  We had back for that on Tuesday.

I think we're not going to find out what the sex of the baby will be.  We had toyed with the idea of having the tech seal it in an envelope, and opening it on Christmas as a "gift."

Our Friends Brendan and Rabia had a cake made with the color of the cake signifying the baby's gender.  I really liked that idea.  I was trying to think of way to take that idea and modify it a bit to make it our own, but I can't think of anything.

 

If we did decide to find out, anyone have a cool idea for finding out the Sex of your baby?

Nov 2, 2011

iPad blogging?

How efficient is it to blog while on an iPad? Or more to the point, how efficient am I at blogging on an iPad?

Right off the bat, I would have to say...less than on a laptop/computer. I have trouble deciding if I should be typing in portrait or landscape, and then if I should use the standard keyboard or the split. So far leaning towards split in landscape. There seems to be less corrections that need to be made when compared to portrait either style or standard keyboard landscape.

I could see proving comments, uploading a quick picture, but much else has me reaching for my laptop.

iPad to tweet? Definitely.

iPad to blog longer than a tweet? Not so much.

Nov 1, 2011

My cr-48 review

It has been almost 10 months since I started this crazy thing. I think it is time to revise and publish!


About a week ten months ago, I was surprised to come home and find a Google Chrome OS laptop (henceforth called cr-48, or Carl) waiting for me by my door. In my excitement I failed to make an "unboxing" video or even snap pictures of it in its case. All attempts to coax Carl back into his shipping box failed, so you'll have to use your imagination.

Let's start first with a breakdown of the hardware. On the outside, Carl is striking. Carl is matte black, with NO logos anywhere. Included in the box was a business card letting me know Intel was inside. Google also included "stickers" to decorate Carl. It gives him a bit of flair, but even without, I'm drawn to the simple, sleek style. I wish all laptops looked like this.

As far as the keyboard is concerned, it's one of the better Chiclet style keyboards I've used. Initially, while typing, I found my palms rested right on the trackpad caused it to activate, but after tweaking the sensitivity, it seems to have improved. The functions keys have been replaced by Chrome OS specific keys, such as forward, back, reload, mute, volume up/down, full screen, and brightness controls. The one button that

gdgt has a great breakdown of what's inside Carl. I'll give you a minute to read it...don't worry, I'll wait.

Great job huh? Anyway, as you can see, the hardware isn't Alienware crazy hardware, but a pretty decent year old netbook. I didn't realize there was bluetooth, as there isn't any indication of how to use it in the settings menu. Perhaps in a future system update, but for now I can't seem to make it work.

I've been using Carl as my main machine at home, and as my travel machine at work. For that approach, this is

Here are the notes I took while using the Carl:
Cons:

  • Sound static issue is a problem UPDATE: sound fixed!!

  • No Java Support

  • No way to change profile picture now you can!!

  • No backlight on keyboard

  • No local storage to store pictures/videos

  • Flash video playback is choppy UPDATE: flash is better, but still choppy

  • Laggy performance

  • Google Docs, opening document not as instantaneous as on win7 laptop

  • While on lap, accidental touch pad activation a concern.

  • So Now I’m writing with my hands near the touch pad...seems to be better.


Pros:

  • Super Fast boot time

  • Browser Sync

  • Automatic (and quiet) updates

  • Decent keyboard feel

  • Great battery life (~ 6-7 hours of use)

  • Great integration with google products (expected, but nice)

  • Screen flip button

  • Ctrl+n to open a new window. Dedicated key to switch (where f5 is) between screens. Great way to solve the side-by-side window use in Other OSes. Very quick. Always goes to the right, use shift to the left. Great!

  • Sleek design.

  • Lack of any Logos makes it really appealing

  • web app store has good selection of apps/links to offset lack of local apps.

Oct 31, 2011

Planning Quasi-Giving

Robyn and I are planning a feast for us and a few friends.  We're calling it Peterson Thanksgiving, and there will be lots of food.

Mostly because three of the attendees are pregnant and should be feeling fine...and hungry :)

 

I'm going to use this entry to begin the planning stages of what we will have to eat at this Party.

Total number of Guests: Currently 8 confirmed (6 adults, 2 kids).

Menu


Appetizers



  • Soup - Minestrone?

  • Fresh Rolls

  • Salad?

  • Corn-Kale Fritters!


Main Course



  • Turkey(s?)

  • Homemade Cranberry Sauce

  • Homemade Mashed potatoes

  • Cauliflower dish (Robyn's Oma's Recipe)

  • GRAVY

  • Fresh homemade bread

  • Stuffing

  • Stuffed Acorn Squash?


Dessert



  • Pumpkin Pie

  • Apple Pie?


Drinks



  • Mulled Cider

  • Milk

  • Soda

  • Wine?

  • Sparkling Grape juice?


There's a lot of prep that will be involved.  I"m also missing a few things, like Green leafy things.  I added Salad, but not completely set on it.

Well, this will evolve with time...but I have a little over a week to prepare..Yikes!

Oct 29, 2011

Tiring, but fantastic Day!

Today, really tired me out.

Robyn and I threw a pumpkin carving party at our house.  To prepare for the event, we prepared a mighty feast: Apple cake, Banana Bread, Garlic Toast, and Homemade Meatball Sauce. Robyn and I took turns prepping and watching Anya.  I was going to bake a traditional loaf for the garlic, but Robyn knew there wouldn't be time, so she picked up a couple of crusty loaves at Wegmans yesterday.

 

We had 5 people (Brendan, Jack, Stacey, Brett, and Andy)show up, which was great and helped make our house feel small :)  Brendan brought two delicous pies; Sweet potato Pecan, and Traditional pumpkin to add to our feast.  There was so much good food!  I tried to convince Andy he needed to eat more than one slice of pie, but it didn't work...plus, combined with the 78 degree house (thank you stove for working!) I'm pretty sure it would have put him in a coma, or at least a really nice nap. :)

It was an amazing time, just sitting, talking, eating, and enjoying time with friends.  The kids were quite entertaining.  At one point, all the adults were in the computer room carving, and the two little ones took off for the kitchen.  I went in to see what mischief they were getting into.  I walk in, and Jack was on the table, with half a loaf of banana bread in his hand, while Anya, more than likely, was directing him where to go.  I simply said "HELLO!  I see you would like some more bread."

Jack's face was priceless.  Just a quick glance around, as if he was saying "what?  me?  Oh sure."  Anya looked concerned like she was about to get scolded, but then realized that it was ok, and threw on her telltale grin.

Here are a few quick pictures from the carving:

 









From Oct 2011

Side note: both my Droid X and our Camera take HORRIBLE low light pictures.  I'm not sure if any Mobile phone camera can take a good low light photo, but I think might be time to retire the Konica Minolta DeImage A200.

After everyone left, Robyn made the point that if we do this again next year with just the same set of people, there will be three more kids.  I then realized that Robyn, Stacey, and Rabia are all due within a couple months of each other.

Awesome.

Oct 28, 2011

Why I write

I've started to write here more frequently.  I've also changed my approach and style a little bit which I think makes it easier to write.

When I first started blogging, I did it because I thought I needed to.  Being a technical guy, part of the allure was getting my site off the ground.  Could I take a domain name, MY name, and build a site that reflected who I am...virtually?

As with most of my ideas, the technical part was easy, it was the creative requirements that sunk me.

I started out with a simple plan of writing three entries a week.  I didn't want to lock myself in specific topics: I wanted it to reflect myself and the events of the day/week rather than beholden to a thematic overlord.  At first, it didn't seem to bad.  I'd write up a quick entry about the "going ons" in my personal life, and move on.

 

It didn't last more than about two entries before I began to succumb to one of my main character flaws: sensitive over thinking.  Let's take a peek inside my brain preparing for an entry about Work:
"OK.  Time to write up a quick post.  What should I write about?  Oh!  How about my rising frustration with my boss <insert topic here>?  Yeah, I could write to help collect my thoughts, and be better prepared to go back and go another round about this."

"Hmm...When I applied for my job, I used my domain email...so he must know I have a domain...what if he reads this?  He hasn't said anything about it before....maybe he's just silently checking up on it..."

"Gah, getting off topic...maybe I'll just write about it...but not make it specific enough so he would know it was me...Who would read that?  It wouldn't have any substance!"

"F*$% this...Maybe I'll write about <insert Personal Topic here>.  I've been meaning to try to parse out my thoughts on it anyway.."

"What if My Mom/Dad/Family member/close friend/acquaintance reads this?  Could this somehow negatively impact my relationship with them?"

"No, not going to write about that either...Maybe I'll write a fiction piece..."

"..."

"...I don't have any ideas...Screw this, I'll just browse around MySpace/Facebook/G+/Social network of the day."

As you can see, I think A LOT about what others may think of my entries.  I definitely don't want to jeopardize my career over a quick, terse entry about something that I usually get over within a matter of hours, but if I don't write/talk about it, the post has a tendency to simmer and stew, and start to boil over into other thoughts and eventually could become all consuming until I finally talk it out or just go to sleep.

With respect to Friends and family, I am in a similar boat.  If there's a situation that arises that stirs up strong emotions, I need to talk/write to collate my emotions, to better understand where they are coming from.  Am I upset/worried because deep down I don't agree with their  choice/thoughts relating to the emotional situation?  Am I jealous/envious of them about something else that is tainting my perception of the situation that could lead me down a path of unpleasantness?

In the past few years of running my own site (and a blogger site before that) I have spent more time trying to predict reactions about a still-to-be-written post, than actually writing.

The times when I do write, I try to edit on the fly.  I don't ever get the thought all the way down before I try to shape it into a flowing narrative.  I tried to do stream of consciousness, but it didn't work out for me.  In my own critical eye, it sounded less than brillant.

I get so caught up in other people's perceptions, that I cut off an avenue to express myself and to help me learn to articulate my thoughts and feelings in a more concise matter.

Instead, I let it build up, and try to talk with Robyn about it.  Don't get me wrong, I love talking to my wife and getting her insight/opinion, but She can't be the only one.  I can't expect her to have all the answer: I need to reach out to more people.

I've got a few co-workers now that I feel comfortable enough to talk about work related issues, and a few personal things, but I still have a bit of a reserved attitude.  I could understand if I had been burned by a peer in the past, but I can't think of an instance of that happening.  I have no good reason hold back (at least professionally) with the people at work I feel I can talk with, but yet I do.  I think that my over thinking sensitiveness is showing through still.

So, what does this all have to do with my resurgence of writing?  Not much, at least directly.

I've decided to write more, mostly because I've decided it's time.  I've reach a point in my life that I'm comfortable enough to use my blog for its intended purpose: reflect who I am online, and give me an outlet to hone my thoughts.  Does this mean I'm going to start writing about every little thing that happens in my life?  Probably not.  I'll more than likely not bring work into the mix...this is MY blog about MY life.  I have enough to parse through outside of work, I'll leave my work concerns there.

What you can expect to see, is more posts like the ones about the stove.  Posts that I use to discuss my feelings of inexperience, inadequacies, frustration, excitement, and satisfaction.  I need to work on identifying my feelings and their origins, and if they are less than helpful emotions, figure out how to work through them to be able to move on without always having a tiny spot in the back of my mind that keeps making its way to the surface.

The stove entries were very cathartic for me, and afterwards, I slept much better...even if I was a bit chilly :)

So here's to a new blog, and a new me.  More of the old...but hopefully not as much as before.

 

Two Hours in...

And the stove is holding steady!

The new board (along with some more sealant around the draft pipe) and The stove is humming away.

 

We'll see how it goes this weekend, but I'm be cautiously optimistic :).

Oct 27, 2011

Stove Newb...

In our last adventure, we walked down memory lane on how I came to be the proud owner of a Pellet stove.

In this installment, we learn how said stove has put me outside my element and challenging me in ways I'm not used to, and don't particularly like.

 

I've been thinking about this stove non-stop when I'm at home..mostly because I have reminders all around me:  The stove sitting there unplugged, the shiny stove pipe on the side of my house, Bags of Pellets sitting in my basement, and the sound of the boiler running while the stove is out of commission.

The Stove is my first real big expensive purchase since the house.  IT is meant to help curb us of our Fuel Oil ways, and save us money.

 

It's sitting there...broken.

I'm currently waiting for a new Controller board to arrive to fix it, but my confidence with the stove is extremely low.  Before I could call Support ( they are only open 8-5 m-f) I tried to use my Troubleshooting skills to determine the root cause of the issue.  I ran the diagnostics of the stove, and it appears that air was leaking out of the stove.  I checked the gaskets, and quickly decided that the Door gasket needed to be replaced.  I bought a replacement 5/8" rope gasket and installed it.

 

I'm pretty sure that made it worse.  With my confidence shaken, I started down the path of trying to correct the newly installed gasket.  I got some hi-temp silicone sealant and used that to push the gasket out more to create an airtight door seal.  I couldn't help myself and kept trying to "fix" it even more.

 

What I'm left with now is a gasket that is probably complete and udder shit.  It is airtight, but that is not the intended use of the sealant. It may melt onto the stove.

 

I can admit that.

 

It is ok.  This is my first stove, and I'm learning.  I need to take my work ethos and step back when I'm getting stressed/overwhelmed and re-evaluate the situation.

 

Worst case:  I need a new $8 gasket and $7 of sealant.

 

Deep breaths, Deep breaths.

How I arrived at owning a Pellet Stove.

I'm beginning to realize that having a stove is more work than what I anticipated.  I'm writing this as retrospective as to how I got here...soon to be followed by where I am :)

When Robyn and I were thinking about alternative heat sources to replace our Fuel Oil supplied Base board heaters, we discussed several options.

We first discussed just replacing the fuel source: Put in a gas burning boiler and get rid of Fuel Oil entirely.

This would be the easiest from a "Living Room Modification" standpoint, as we could use the existing heat pipes, pumps and thermostats.  In the basement, we would have to remove the old boiler and the fuel oil tank...two daunting tasks.

Unfortunately, this task was outweighed by an even more dissuading one: The fact we have no natural gas lines into the house.  I spent a good deal of time during the summer researching what it would take to get Gas lines run to the house.  Our local provider, RG&E would run a line (100' max) to our house for free.  From there, we call in a contractor to then run the lines inside the house.  The only requirement They had is the Gas appliance has to be purchased prior to them running the line.  I get that, they don't want to run a line for a promise, but a guarantee.

Having Gas in the house would also be nice in case we wanted to ever switch our our Electric range or dryer for a gas equivalent.

We ultimately decided that we WILL run a gas line someday, but probably not for a year or two.

Next, we briefly talked about a furnace.  This talk broke down real quick as it would require extensive duct work, and something to heat the air.  They make Electric Furnaces, but they are expensive.

Wood burning stoves was the next avenue we went down.  Robyn's Parents have a wood stove in their house, and have for over 30 years.  The heat that the stove is capable of is great, and the range seems to be significant.  Starting the fire is simple, and if you get a big enough stove, it can be packed at night and last until the morning.

The thought of having to buy, and potentially split enough wood to heat our home started to give us reservations.  It isn't that we are unable to do it, it is more a question of do I want to do it.  I enjoy splitting wood on camping trips or during the occasional fire in our backyard.  Getting up and going out to the cold garage everyday to split?  Not the most exciting idea.  The other show stopper for the wood stove was the lack of a good chimney that could be utilized for the exhaust.

By the time we arrived at the Pellet Stove idea, it seemed like we reached the Zenith of our talks.  It provided us with the output similar to a wood stove, yet more convenient.  Loading bags of sawdust pellets every day is pretty simple, and if need be, Robyn could do it.  The Exhaust requirements are straight forward, and easy to do (as long as you have the correct tools, and Patient friends and family).

We committed   ourselves to the Pellet Stove idea, and began down that path.  Which leads us to....

 

Oct 26, 2011

Truck passed!

Well, I managed to get my truck into the mechanic today to:

  1. Get the stuff fixed to pass inspection ( two tires and a windshield wiper...didn't realize that was a inspection thing!)

  2. Take a look at the heat issue

  3. Take a look a the funny throttle yesterday (if I attempted to put more than a feather's weight of pressure, truck would pulse)


Under $500 later, I have a Truck that passed inspection, a SPARE TIRE, and an experience with a mechanic where I didn't feel like an a$$hole for asking them to fix something.

The Throttle was apparently a clog in the fuel line.  The heat is a slightly longer tale.

Apparently there are two tiny leaks in my truck: one in the radiator and one in the intake(I think?). These leaks are really tiny, and could not cause a significant loss in fluid for months, or years.  The Mechanic said if I planned on keeping the truck for "a long time" I should replace them...at ~$1000.00.

Considering my truck is 10 years old and has over 100,000 miles, I don't know how long term I'll still have the truck.


I mean, I love my truck, but with the impending arrival of kid #2, having a vehicle that can only seat 2 adults, or one adult and one car seat doesn't seem practical.  I'd like to keep it for another year, just to gain a little more ground before having to buy another car.

..or more likely the MINIVAN Robyn wants :)

Oct 25, 2011

Stove Part Delivery

Called the stove company to get an estimate of when the part would arrive, as it had not shown up today.

 

...Apparently it will be 5-7 Business days....

 

Sigh...

 

Oct 24, 2011

I must have pissed them off or something...

I took a sick day today to try to avoid getting massively sick.  I ended up taking a nap, and around 1:30 I felt pretty good.  I wanted to get out and accomplish something, and since my truck's inspection is due at the end of the month, I thought I would head to a local repair shop to do this.

I pulled in, briskly walk in to avoid the rain, and I'm greeted by three mechanics standing in the main office.  Right off the bat, I had a feeling like they were pissed at me.

Me: "Hey!  How's it going?"

Guy 1: "...good."

Me: "Cool.  Can I get my truck inspected?"

Guy 2 and three walk away, not really making eye contact.

Guy 1: "Well, I'll need your registration."

Me: "Sure. <Places Registration on the table>"

Guy 1 grabs a form and places it on the table.

Guy 1: "<circles the top CUSTOMER INFORMATION Area> Here.  Fill out the top ONLY."  <-- Not sure why he placed such emphasis.

Me: "Ok."

Guy 1: "Anything else?"

Me: "I don't think so.  I've got a little more time before I need to rotate my tires and change the oil."

I fill out the form, and the takes my keys.  A few seconds later, the truck is in and up on the lift.

20 minutes later, the truck is pulled up in front of the waiting area.  Guy 1 gets out, with the truck still running.  He walks into the garage, and comes back in about a minute later.

Guy 1: "All set.  That'll be $21"

Me: "Great!"

I take a look at the form, and it appears that there are notes on the form

Guy 1: "Sign here. <hands me the credit receipt, I sign it, and he takes it back>"

Me: "...So, anything I need to worry about?  Am I all set?"

Guy 1: "Nope.  It failed."

Me: "...um, ok.  What do I need to have done?"

Guy 1: "Driver's side rear tire, and a driver's side windshield wiper.  Here's your receipt, and the printout.  It will be $10 to re-test.  You'll need this when you come back....IF you come back.  Goodbye."

At this point, the guy just walks away.  Stunned, I walk out to my running truck.

 

As I get in the truck, I realize something is amiss....The window was down!  Now, the actual time the window was open, was about 2-3 minutes...

 

Why did you put the window down IN THE RAIN?

 

I left, and my patience was definitely thin at this point.

 

The thing that really got to me is they didn't even try to sell me tires, which they have in stock, or wipers, which are right next to the counter.

 

The entire experience just left a bitter taste in my mouth.  I honestly want to like them since they are not too far away from my house, but this is the second time in a row I felt like I did something that offended them...by showing up to give them money.

 

Maybe I'm overreacting, maybe I'm making it bigger than it needs to be, but it just felt odd.

 

Stove saga continues!

Well...

 

Looks like stove is still "a work in progress."

Spent the morning on the phone with Tech Support at US Stove.  After trying several different things, they believe the controller board may be faulty on my stove.  They are sending one (overnight I think) to swap ou the bad one.

 

Quick note:  If you want to adjust the threshold for the Draft Fan on a 5500M, just hold down the draft fan up and the aux up simultaneously..this will change the higher threshold.  Press on when you have it set to what you want. Repeat for the lower threshold by holding down Draft Fan down and Aux down.

 

We'll see!

Oct 22, 2011

First Early Morning fun with the stove!

Well, we had an exciting morning today!

 

Around 1:30, I woke up and smelled smoke in the house.  It took me about 30 seconds to realize this is "not a good thing" and got downstairs to take a look.  The Glass of the stove was covered on the inside with black soot.  The fire was still burning ok, but there was a haze in the house.  I shut down the stove, opened the windows and let the house air a bit.  Around 6:30, I cleaned out the stove and tried to piece together what happened.

Here's my current hypothesis:

  1. When I cleaned out the ash pot yesterday, I didn't push the latch all the way down, allowing the ash to flow into the burn chamber more than it should have

  2. There was quite a bit of wind last night.  This, combined with the excess ash, caused a backdraft scenario that allowed some smoke to come back into the house.


I checked the exhaust piping for any leaks taht might have caused the smoke, but could not find any.  There is a spot around the door gasket that looks a bit singed, but it is still an airtight seal.  The flame does not appear to be lazy, and three hours into today's burn, and the window is still almost as clear as the cleaning this morning.

I'm definitely going to keep an eye on it, but I think we are ok.  Hickory smoked, but ok :).

Oct 20, 2011

Home repairs #2: The Dryer

Another project I tackled between the stove installation/inspection was the faulty dryer.

About two weeks ago, the dryer just stopped heating at all.  I started to do some research into the probable causes.  Several fixit sites pointed to either a faulty heating element, fuse, or temperature sensor.  Considering replacing all three of these would be under $100, I figured it was worth a shot.

I started by pulling my dryer apart, the correct way: I found the owner's manual online that showed me how to replace said parts.  After I opened it up, I discovered another problem: the bottom was covered in a 1/2" thick layer of lint.  The lint trap harness was not properly sealed to the dryer and was letting lint through.  This apparently is another common problem with old dryers.  I proceeded to clean it up the best I could, and removed the Heating element.  Thankfully, all the parts that were potentially going to be replaced, were attached to the back of the heating element.  I grabbed by trusty Multi-Meter and tested almost each part ( more on that in a minute).

When I tested the full circuit, it gave me a reading of infinite resistance, which means the circuit was open somewhere.  The main heating element itself passed, so I moved onto the thermometer...which fell apart as I attempted to take it off.

"No problem!" I thought.  "Super simple fix!  I'm done!"  I went to my old friend, Internet, and ordered the $5 part and paid $7 shipping....because I was impatient.  Two days later, the part arrived, and I installed the new thermometer and believed I was on my way...

...Home repair fact #34: If there is the possibility of more than one broken part, and you don't test all of them, you'll have more than one broken part.

Sure enough, replacing only the thermometer didn't fix my dryer.  I did what I should have done in the first place, and tested all the parts.  I discovered the Safety fuse was blown.  Apparently, this is very common in old dryers, as the lint buildup causes the temperature to rise above the safety limit.   The fuse did what it was supposed to and blew to open the circuit to stop the drying from catching fire.

I went back to the internet, and ordered another $5 part and spent $7 on shipping....because again, I was impatient.  I'm sure I could have found the parts locally, or found a better deal once I knew which parts to replace, but I needed to get my dryer back up and running quickly...and not many places are open at 9pm on a Wednesday.

The second part arrived on Saturday, and I installed the fuse.  I fired up the dryer, and it started drying clothes!

In retrospect, I think the dryer had been slowly dying since we bought the house.  Originally, we thought it was because of the OVER 70 FOOT LONG exhaust with EIGHT 90 degree turns.  Turns out (ha!) that it was more than that.  My test load of a Comforter and a few sweatshirts dried in ONE cycle, instead of the normal 2.5...

I win!

Day one of Stove use

So far, the stove is working wonderfully.  The vent system is doing what it should: Venting the smoke out of the house!

The Stove is current set on HR-1, or Low heat.  Current temperature outside: 51 degrees.  Current temp inside: 82 downstairs, 78 upstairs.  At these temperatures in the spring/fall last year, we were struggling to keep the downstairs at 67 and the upstairs at 68.  Even then, the Boiler was running pretty much non-stop.

I plan to keep a log of when I add a bag to the stove, and the temperature range for the day, and Stove heat setting to help track of usage to plan for next year and see how we do.

We spent Just under $975 on Pellets.  The stove, heat board and pipe work was about $1375, and another $55 for caulk and drywall.  We just purchased a gate for $43.  That puts the total cost of the Stove installation at around $2448.

According to NYSERDA, the current cost of Fuel oil is $3.65 per gallon, up from $2.79 last year.  That puts us at around $730 to fill our tank.  Last year, we went through around 800 gallons. ( I'll have to check that number...).

If the prices stay at $3.65, that would mean a cost of $2920 to to heat our house at the 67/68 degree mark through winter. That means, this year we'll spend about $472 LESS than we would have just using Fuel Oil, and have a house that will be warmer.  I'll keep an eye on the price of Fuel Oil, and at the end of the month, I'll take the average price and compare to our usage last year.  We went through almost a tank a month during December, January, February, and March.  November and April were partial, so we'll say another tank.  that's a Total of around 4 Fills.  I'm not expecting this installation to pay for itself in one year, but it just might.

Here's a link to the picture gallery:









Pellet Stove

 

 

Oct 19, 2011

It passed

Fire Marshal stopped by today and said our stove passed! We could get the certificate in a couple of weeks, but we are all set to begin using our pellet stove!

Oct 10, 2011

Hopefully Soon...

This post will be replaced by a post entitled: "Stove Update: It Passed!"

I hope the Fire Marshal shows up tomorrow, as I haven't heard back from the messages left on Friday, but initially, we had setup tomorrow as the inspection day.

 

I've met all the requirements to the best of my knowledge...but I guess I'll find out if that's enough :)

 

 

 

Oct 5, 2011

Stove woes

Well,

We were close.

Fire Marshal stopped by today and said the stove was too low, by about .5"

Need a slightly thicker pad, and to rework the hole.

Looks like my weekend will busy!

Rented a reciprocating saw to make sure this goes super fast.

Sep 24, 2011

Home projects: Heating!

This is my inaugural post in regards to home improvement projects.

Our first "Major" project will be to replace our Fuel-Oil based heating with a Wood Pellet Stove. Initially, we looked into having it done by a local resource.  Unfortunately, the cost was almost 4 times the cost of doing it myself.  Considering the specifications as to what needs to be done is all online or included with the stove, I'm going to take a stab at doing it myself.

On Thursday, I talked with the Fire Marshall about the prospect of doing this myself.  He said that most people, if they take the time to read the instructions/UL requirements, can do this themselves.  Once we are done with the installation, we just have to give the building office a call and they will verify our work.  Feeling confident, I told him that Robyn would be down to pickup the permit the next day.  $25 later, we have a piece of paper that says we can do it!

We picked up the King/Ashley 5500m Pellet Stove from our local TSC on sale.  We also picked up the vent kit as well.  This thing is a Beast!  I'll post pictures of it tomorrow, after I have a few friends over to help get the darn thing out of my truck!

So, here we go!

 

Sep 13, 2011

Another update!

Crazy to think I haven't posted in MONTHS, and now I have two...but that's the case!

This update is better than the other one though...

We're Expecting baby #2!! Currently, the ETA is 4/5/2012, but we'll see if Baby Peterson 2.0 (BP2 for short) actually arrives on time...#1 showed up 10 days late.

Maybe we'll have to start pool to see who can guess the due date.

There wouldn't be any prize, but the satisfaction you were right.

Goodbye Smartphone

I've decided to cancel my Smartphone plan and revert to a "feature" phone.

I'd love to say the main issue is the cost (Don't get me wrong, I like the idea of getting ~$30 a month back to spend on other things) but I think I would be lying..

I can't stand being always reachable by so many different methods.



Currently, I can be reached by:

  1. Email on my DROIDX

  2. My Work provided Pager

  3. My Cellular phone number

  4. My On-call phone when I'm at work.


All of these, except for #4 are with me at work and at home.

Now, added in with those, let's take a look at other connected ways I can access information:



  1. Personal Windows Machine at home

  2. Work provided Laptop

  3. iPad

  4. cr-48


That's a total of 8 ways to access information/communicate with people at home/work. On a given day, I have 6 of them with me. At home, I have 7. SEVEN different ways to get in touch with me...



...Do I really need to be that accessible? AM I really that important? I'm going to with, Mostly.


I am responsible for several servers, and my team does have business hours on-call paging, but let's be realistic here: What I do is not "Patient Critical" or Super time sensitive. If there is an issue on the weekend, 9.9/10 times it can wait until Monday morning. I don't need to be constantly interrupted on the weekend by emails that can wait. If something comes up during the day, we get paged, not sent an email. If someone needs to reach me immediately, they either page or call my OCP/Cell.


If something goes wrong with a server, I do get pinged on it, but I could easily redirect those emails to my pager. If one of my servers/services goes down, it will most likely be a hardware issue, and my boss and his boss and I decided to have next business day for all parts, and for the "critical" pieces, we have support contracts that the vendors will be alerted by the servers themselves and they will come out and do the repairs with no interaction from me, other than to authorize their entrance to the data center.


So that brings me back to the immediate contact issue. If I dump my DroidX, that leaves me with two options instead of three...



To me, Two out of three Ain't Bad.

Apr 29, 2011

Well...that was fun!

Apparently one of my plug-ins decided to take down my blog.

 

That has since been fixed!  Hooray for remembering MySQL Syntax!

Apr 3, 2011

Health Update for March 2011

it’s time for another update:

Weight on 2/28/2011: 164
Weight on 3/31/2011: 163
Weight Change : -1 pound!  I've definitely lost a bunch of Fat Weight, and have been doing more strength training.  I'm beginning to see definition in my arms, as well as my Legs.  I can also see my abs!

Total Miles Run this Month: 97.15 Miles  Another month of not missing a day!  I walked to the Parking lot a few times, which adds another mile or so each way.  Hopefully, the nice weather will allow me to do that more often and get even more exercise in.

Total Milage for 2011: 258.43 Miles …That’s a lot of miles!  I've worn down my shoes enough that I have ordered a new pair!

Total Workout Minutes This month: 941  It is staggering to think that this monthly total surpasses the YEARLY amount I did 5 or 6 years ago...

Total Workout Minutes for 2011: 3,242

Total Calories burned from Working out: 11,186

All in all, I'm shocked and excited.  I've come far in a short amount of time.  I haven't felt this good in a long time, if ever!

The other amazing thing is how quickly "exercise" became "my morning routine."  I used to have to make plans to go to the gym either during lunch or after work...that made it feel more like a job than what I see it for now: Fun.

Here's to another fantastic month!  April weather will slowly warm up, which means not so many layers!  I really LOVE running in the summer in the morning...I can't wait!

 

 

Mar 4, 2011

Bonus Health Update!

Well, I just had my physical...

 

And apparently I'm healthy!!

 

I had a health Screening back in January which said my Cholesterol was 231...not good!  So I made a change or two to my diet, and Have been running 6 days a week since then.

 

The results:

Total Cholesterol: 192

LDL(Bad cholesterol): 109

HDL (Good Cholesterol): 73

Ratio: 2.5

 

These are awesome numbers!

Also, my resting heart rate is 54...Nice!

Feb 28, 2011

Health Update for February

It’s time for another update:

Weight on 1/31/2011: 167
Weight on 2/28/2011: 164
Weight Change : -3 pounds!  Not as much as last month, but I've included more fiber in my diet, and have been really trying to not be starving myself.  I've pretty much lost my spare tire, but there's always room for improvement!

Total Miles Run this Month: 66.14 Miles

Total Milage for 2011: 127.23 Miles ...That's a lot of miles!

Total Workout Minutes This month: 728  I think I might have missed a day or two here...as it is way less than January...but the Milage seems right.

Total Workout Minutes for 2011: 1980

Total Calories burned from Working out: 8356

For the second month into this, I've definitely noticed a difference.  By altering my eating habits, and including more Fiber and greens, my Calorie intake has leveled off, and that has helped keep my weight fairly constant.

I've also added some basic Strength training a couple days a week.  Nothing too fancy, just some pushups, dips, and Plank(ing) to help improve the "T-Rex" arms as Robyn calls them ;)

 

All in all, Going well and I'm really enjoying it.  I've slipped a few days as far as tracking my intake, but I think I've got it down to a fairly good science: I don't change up my eating too much and stay away from Sweets...I've really started paying attention to portions, and ensuring my "helping" of food really isn't four or five.

 

Here's to another good month!

 

Feb 27, 2011

Weekend Activities

This weekend has been pretty low key.  After dealing with some "plumbing"  emergencies the past couple of weeks (Base board heat pipe leak and shower engager break) I am happy to NOT have to play with Piping.

I took advantage of the calm and bottled the All-Grain IPA I brewed back in January.  I was going to write up that experience, but...reference plumbing experiences referenced above.

I started by running the beer through cheese cloth to help snag any residual Crud.  I discovered that there is a vast difference in cheese cloths:  This one didn't seem to catch much.  A test glass was very cloudy.  After letting it rest in the Bottling bucket for a few minutes it seemed to clear up a bit, but I didn't have a good way to re-filter the beer again so I had to make due with what I had.  I suppose I could have put some sort of filter on bottle bucket spout if I had more time or didn't have beer anxiously waiting for bottles. :)

I need to devise a good way (or find a pre-made solution) to filter beer.  I'm thinking a two stage filter: A first stage that stops "large" crud from even leaving the carboy, and then the second stage that catches any smaller/fine crud before it enters the bottling bucket.

I already have the second stage, a funnel with Cheese cloth..I just need better Cheese cloth.  For the first stage, I"m thinking a steel "balloon" that  I can attach to my tubing.  This would make it easy to clean/replace.

Now to find some decent cheese cloth..

 

I'm thinking I"m going to tackle a small water related project this weekend.  I need to move our washing machine about three feet.  Currently, it sits right in front of the Utility Sink in the Laundry space...this makes it really hard to use said utility Sink.  To move it, I need to get slightly longer Water line tubing.  I think I can handle this.

 

Well, Anya is asking for food, so I'm off to feed the baby!

 

 

Feb 2, 2011

new fun!

Yesterday I came home from work to a surprise...

A cr-48 was delivered to me!!!

I was completely shocked when I opened the box, as I thought they either gave them all away or wasn't "googly" enough for it..

So far, I'm really liking it.  I treat it like a netbook/iPad replacement, and it does well...in fact there are a few things it does better than the iPad ( and a few that I wished it did like the iPad)

I hope to try to get a "review" of it up, just to get me to really put it through its paces, and to help loosen the writing fear/block I have.  The only way to get better is to practice, practice, practice....or something :)

But for now, off to see how it does with more multimedia type things!

Jan 31, 2011

Health update!

I'm not sure who many people will care, but it's my blog damnit! So here are the updates from this month:

I've been using sparkpeople.com for about a month, and it's time for an update:

Weight on 1/1/2011: 178
Weight on 1/31/2011: 167
Weight Change : -11 pounds! (I think this might be a bit off...I'm not super confident in our scale, but I have definitely lost some spare tireage)

Total Miles Run: 61.09 Miles

Total Workout Minutes This month: 1252

Total Calories burned from Working out: 8315

All in all, I've felt good! Tracking my eating has shown me that there are days that I do not eat enough...So I'm working on incorporating more nuts and greens to help bring up the Calorie count, yet not adding too much in the way of Cholesterol or anything.

All in all, Going well!

Jan 24, 2011

Weekend House Projects 2

Well another weekend, another few projects done!

Saturday found me lurking in the garage trying to organize the "gift" the previous owners left us: a loft filled with random wood scraps. I pulled it all down, and sorted it into keep and throw piles. While sorting, I discovered a full box of the flooring they used in the kitchen! This could come in handy...I stacked the wood up in the loft, and managed to put Robyn's Tires and our non-sleeping camping supplies up there along with the Chairs I need to fix (which I think I can with some of the gifted wood!!) at some point. I then threw away the broken baby swing they also left behind. After all this work, I then began trying to see if I could fit both vehicles in the garage AND still be able to pull the snow blower out....turns out I can! There is just enough room at the front of the garage to park the snow blower between the vehicles and be able to open the doors without hitting anything! I'll admit, it kind of felt like a losing game of Tetris for a bit...but then finally getting the long piece needed! I have some finishing touches (like hanging the bikes on the wall to free up the front right corner) but for this coming brewing weekend, We'll have plenty of room!

I then moved on to our bed that needs some more bolts to complete it. I found that the bolts are hard to find! The original bolts are 2 1/4" in length, while the closest I could find at Lowes was either 2" or 2 1/2". I decided to go with the 2 1/2" screws. I used them to secure the head/base boards to the frame, and utilize the original bolts for the canopy. I ended up using one of the new screws in the canopy, and it fit nicely.


The next project I tackled was the mirror on Robyn's Dresser. The mirror was not put on when we moved because one of the support wood blocks had split at some point and time. I decided to use some of the scrap wood I organized from the garage to replace it. I measured the good block and set off sawing, chiseling and sanding the block until it was as close to the original as I could get it. IT wasn't a clean piece, but it was usable!

I drilled the holes for the screws/bolts and secured it to the back of the dresser. Low and behold! The mirror was supported! I tightened down the bolts, and angled the mirror so it rested against the wall to give it a little more support.

After that, I consulted with Robyn about our Dryer Dilemma: Our Current dryer vents out the opposite side of the house with a 50 foot run with about 7 90 degree turns...This might be one reason why things never dry!

We talked about it, and decided that the best answer would be to move the dryer to the pantry, so that way the dry run is about 2 feet. I took a look at our current dryer electric line, and realized I could safely disconnect power, and thread it through our closet into the pantry. This will require drilling two holes, but I think it is doable. After that, I can use a standard wall dryer venting kit, and should be all set!


All in all, another successful weekend! This coming weekend will be brewing weekend, so probably no project updates, but who knows? Maybe Sunday I'll feel like drilling test holes...

Jan 10, 2011

Spark People

I decided to do a better job of tracking my health this year (I guess it's a resolution). I joined the site SparkPeople.com as a way to track my activities.

If you want to follow along, go here!

http://www.sparkpeople.com/mypage.asp?id=mpeterson221

Weekend House Projects

Well, after the fun of the Boiler last week, I decided to keep our house projects to a dull roar. I mean, as much fun as it would be to start tearing down walls, or installing new lights, you kinda need capital for that, and the boiler sucked most of that dry, like are nice WARM air! (Heat is a great invention :) )

The original plan was to put plastic on the windows, to help cut down on the drafts. Notice the use of the words "original" and "was" in that sentence. Those priorities soon changed. Friday night, as I prepared for bed a new, more pressing matter came up:

The Toilet handle.

Through the use of my sheer manly strength, I managed to snap the mighty plastic handle at the joint where it meets the resistant plastic handle the lifts the rubber stopper in the water tank. My original idea was to replace the entire tank mechanism, until Robyn pointed out that the toilet works, just the handle is broken. I wasn't if Lowes/Home Depot would carry such an exotic product like that...but we took a gamble.

Who knew they sold just toilet handles! :) And the amazing thing is: Handles are WAAAY cheaper than the entire kit! Crazy!

So, after finding that, I was feeling good. So good in fact, we took another gamble that there may be a replacement drain for our tub. The tub used to have one of those Push down drains that doesn't have a strainer. Notice the use of the phrase "used to." That's right! We replaced the push down with a strainer AND a rubber stopper! After two Anya Tubbers, it appears to be holding up fairly well. No leaking, and the strainer is catching hair and debris (chucks of soap mostly) that normally would just go down the drain and potentially cause a problem later on.

I was feeling really good at this point. So good in fact, I went down to the basement and grabbed the storm window for the kitchen window that never go put on for some reason. I set it in place, tightened the screws, and marveled at...well me!

We also managed to de-christmas tree the house (which involved a lot of needle sucking/sweeping) and put the canopy posts back on our bed. We're short a few screws, but I took measurements and plan to pick some up this weekend, along with the raw materials to fix the mirror on our Dresser. One of the wood supports has split, and I plan on replacing it with all new pieces. Robyn and I also started planning for the big bathroom re-do that will hopefully come to fruition sometime later this summer/fall.

All in all, a fairly successful Home repair weekend...granted they were all small, but baby steps people, baby steps.

Jan 5, 2011

Home adventures!

In my previous post, I mentioned I wanted to write about the adventures of owning a home and the projects I will be working on.  I had no idea the first project would require an entry so fast!

Yesterday, I get a call from Robyn saying the house is cold.  Our house is heated by Baseboard water heaters with a fuel oil boiler.  I figure it must have tripped a breaker or just needed to be reset.  I had her go down and check it out.  Unfortunately, it wasn't that.  Her dad stopped over to take a look, and said the pilot light wasn't on and it appeared to be dead.  Hmm...this can't be good.  I really don't have a real firm grip on how the boiler system works, so I was out of my element for sure.

I did what any Semi-handy guy would do: I freaked out and called a professional.  Little did I know how much fun that would be!

I learned very quickly that to work on Fuel Oil Systems, you need to be certified...and not many people are.  I also learned the two big heating companies in the area are not, which filled me with such....dread that I was out of heat until I spent thousands of dollars (which I don't have).  Thankfully, our oil company had a recommendation for a company and they agreed to come out and take a look (at after hours pricing of couse!).

Well, I'll bore you with the details, but suffice to say I learned a lot about Fuel oil and boilers last night.  I also learned the "cleaning" we required before purchasing was just that: A cleaning that was apparently blind to nagging issues.  Freaking great!  But now, we have the correct size nozzle and a new relay, which wasn't as bad as I expected...but still a nice punch in the gut.

At least we have heat!

Jan 1, 2011