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May 4th, 2024

And Speaking Of Cute Little Baltimore Rowhouses…

Having a house is like having a lover. Or at least I assume it is since I’ve never had a lover. But, so I’m told, lovers have their little ways of making it clear when they are feeling neglected. So do cute little Baltimore Rowhouses.

I came home Thursday after a week long road trip from Oceano back to Baltimore, which was after a two month stay at my brother’s house. I did the usual stuff before leaving the house…turned off the water at the main, shut off all the unnecessary electric devices, set the thermostat to vacation mode, and so on. The house was in winter mode when I left, and now it’s working itself up to springtime here in Maryland. So I get back to a house that’s still assuming it’s winter, with most of its services turned off and the first thing is a turn things back on, and then get the house set for warmer weather.

But first I have to get my stuff out of the car. I bring a ton of luggage with me on these road trips, plus cameras, and I’m getting too old to be lugging around all that weight. I’ll probably be unpacking for days, and after getting all that stuff out of the car and up the steps to my front door, I’m beat.

I notice I have squatters. Well…robins. There is a nest on top of my porch light. I look around for the parents and don’t see them, but I assume they’re somewhere in the trees watching. I know it’s robins because they’ve tried this before and if it were mockingbirds I would be being attacked now.

Later, I checked again for any sign of robins and I didn’t see any. So I got a mirror and looked in the nest for eggs. There weren’t any. It was a bit spooky how the nest looked like it was in pristine ready to move in shape and there was no sign it had ever been used. Something scared them away it seems. Or they got eaten. But the neighborhood seems not to have any cats around nowadays. I’ve no idea, but since the nest was empty I took it down.

I have not seen any robins at all since I got back. This morning I put the bird feeders back out and slowly the customers are returning.

My door has a mail slot so there is no mailbox to overflow. When I got back I had a mountain of unread unopened mail on the other side of my door, which made opening the door difficult. Last time, when I stayed in California for almost four months, I had mail forwarded. But I learned that some important letters don’t get forwarded anyway because the sender specifically asks the post office not to do that. So I didn’t bother forwarding mail this time because of that, and also I reckoned two months was not so long I couldn’t deal with anything that came while I was gone, and my monthly bills can be easily paid online. But while I was out there I started noticing that my city water bill kept showing a zero balance due every time I checked. I had no idea but thought it might be an adjustment of some sort, and I made a note to check the paper bills when I got back.

So first thing after pushing the door opened against all that mail on the floor on the other side was I gathered it all up and dropped it on the kitchen table, then sorted through it for the water bill. I found them and look and I see I see they’re using a different website now for online payments. For some reason instead of telling you when you go to the old website to go to the new one, or just simply forwarding you to it, the old website still looks active but it can’t show the current bill so it always looks like its zero.

Well, well. But I would have called them anyway about why the zero balance due, but…oh well. No harm done. I paid my last bill early before I left for California, and paid this one just now on the new website a week before it was due.

I turn back on the water. Then open a few faucets to get any air pockets out of the system. I turn the hot water tank back on. I go upstairs and notice the toilet tank is leaking where it connects to the bowl. It’s not a major leak and I put a bucket under it, hoping it fixes itself like it did the last time. What happens is when I’m gone for a long time with the water off, the water in the bowl evaporates, and the gasket sealing the tank against the bowel dries out. Last time it did that, a few days of use and water flowing into the bowl from the tank and the gasket began sealing again.

As I said, the house was in winter mode when I left. It was in the 80s when I returned. I discovered the central air conditioning, which would have been good to have right then, wasn’t working. Again. It’s been a problem for several years now after the BGE…excuse me…Constellation, tech that replaced the compressor did a lot of other work that might not have been necessary at all, but which gave her billable hours, and screwed most of that up. Last year it took a senior technician to get it fixed. It ran good all summer last year and I was hopeful for this year, but here we are. A senior tech came out yesterday and told me the system was leaking coolant again and they’d get someone else to come out with them later and try to find the leak. In the meantime I got out the window units. Again.

When I tried to get the cuckoo clock going again, I discovered its hands weren’t positioned correctly. I stopped the clock before I left but apparently the hands came loose while I was away and were dangling at 6:30. Getting them back right took some fiddling, but the clock is working fine now.

I was getting thirsty bringing stuff back up from the car, so I got one of the bottles of ice tea I had with me, poured it into a glass and reached in the freezer for some ice, where I discovered the ice machine in the fridge wasn’t working. But yes it was, it was just stuck trying to fill its tray. I’d forgotten to turn it off while I was away, and all that time it kept running, but since the water to the house was turned off all it did was try to fill its tray…for two months. I was able to get it running again by pouring water from a glass into its tray to get the cycle going again. In the meantime I went to the chest freezer in the basement where I keep ice for the bar and got some from that.

In the process I checked my long duration power outage tests. Basically, you fill some small paper cups with water, put them in your freezers, let the water and put a quarter on top of the frozen water. If the quarter is embedded in the ice when you get back home, you know there was a power outage long enough to thaw the water out and your food is all probably spoiled. My quarters were all sitting on top of the ice in their cups, so no power outages.

I began sorting the stack of mail into piles of things that need immediate attention, things that I can look at later, magazines, things that just need throwing away and things that need shredding first.

The toilet tank leak became so bad I had to take the tank off. As I write this, the second floor bathroom is out of service…

I have another bathroom in the basement that (thankfully) is still in good shape. Apart from my partially converting it into a darkroom.

That’s dust you see on the wall behind where the tank was. It probably hasn’t been touched since the toilet was installed which was sometime before I bought the house. I had no idea it was that bad. Dusting the wall there periodically isn’t going to be easy though, once the tank is back on.

You can see the tank gasket is pretty far gone…

I really didn’t want to have to do this because I was afraid the bolts holding the tank in place had rusted beyond any hope of getting them off without brute force. But a little WD-40 and it wasn’t too bad after all. I ordered a new tank gasket and brass bolts that should be here tomorrow.

So besides everything else I need to do with the house now…and I’d already been planning to replace several floorboards on my backyard deck this summer, and repaint it, getting the second floor bathroom working again is my primary task for now. In addition to the new tank gasket I need to go buy an entire new set of gaskets for the water feed lines because I had to disconnect them from the tank. Probably also a new flapper valve since the one that was in there is going to dry out while I’m working on this. Maybe a whole new set of tank innards. Might as well. So it goes…

I got tempted to replace the entire thing now that it’s this much disassembled with a newer one with the bidet built in. There are some good ones out there, some really impressive ones that open the lid automatically as you walk over to the toilet, and automatically flush when you leave. But like a lot of latest and greatest things out there there’s just lots more about them to fail and you have no idea how to fix any of it, and even if you did all the parts are now so specialized that if the company that made the thing goes out of business you are screwed, whereas the one I have in there is simple, uncomplicated, the parts are all standardized, and it works just fine, even for being a first generation water saver toilet. Yes, I’ve had to replace the tank valves several times over the years, but that’s easy to do, and if the add-on bidet fails I can replace it.

Once I got all my clothes out of the main suitcase, I took what needed washing down to the basement and got the washing machine going. Thankfully It did not complain about my absence.

I got the window air conditioners out and running. I especially wanted to get my bedroom cooled off before nightfall because I can’t sleep when it’s too hot. The one in the living room is easy to set up, since it just uses a big flexible tube to vent out the window and its support fits perfectly in one of the front windows. But the little window unit for my bedroom is a chore. I built a support rack for it some years ago when I was having central AC problems then so I could have a cool bedroom to sleep in. But I have to lift that thing up to the window and small as it is it is still very heavy. Then I have to seal the window around it.

Welcome home Bruce. If a house is like a lover, then mine apparently got pissed off at me leaving it alone for so long and it’s making me earn forgiveness.


[Update…] I almost forgot… Something else I discovered after turning on the TV was my Roku box wasn’t working.. Then I remembered.

It’s the new latest and greatest Roku box. When I tried to turn it on yesterday all I got was the No Signal screen on the TV. There are no buttons on this Roku box, you have to operate it from the remote and the remote could not turn it on. So I did the traditional IT solution and unplugged the Roku from its power supply and plugged it back in again, and Voilà…I had signal. But the remote still would not operate it.

Okay, thinks I, the batteries went dead while I was away. So I went to change the batteries in the remote, only to realize there was no battery door on the remote.

And then I remembered. This new latest and greatest instance of the Roku box comes with a remote that you have to charge using a USB power connection and it’s own special variation on the mini USB cable that’s just different enough from other mini USB cables that none of the ones I have in my cable bin would work with it.

But I saw that coming when I unpacked it…it’s par for the course these days…so I kept the box this new Roku came in along with its cables, where I keep all my computer stuff so I would know where to find them, and be able to recharge the remote when I needed to. But it took overnight to do that.

In the meantime I could have used the Roku app on my iPhone or the iPad to control the Roku, but now I wasn’t in the mood for TV.

I cannot begin to relate how much I despise the new reality of rechargeable devices with built-in batteries that cannot be user replaced. It goes along with the overall direction companies are taking now of preventing us from repairing what we own, to make us have to buy new again and again, if not denying us ownership altogether in favor of making us pay infinate rent.

by Bruce | Link | React!

January 16th, 2024

I Suppose The Snow Drought Is Over Now…

Been a while since I’ve had to put my snow boots on.

We got about four inches overnight. City says you have to clear your sidewalks within 3 hours after the snowfall ends, unless it ends between 3 pm and 6 am, in which case snow must be removed by 11 am. But I only have this little 15 foot stretch of rowhouse sidewalk to clear and it just takes a few minutes. I got it done by 7 this morning and with the deicer I put out the sidewalk is completely clear now.

I’m 70 and I’ve had one heart attack already. So I’m doing this one small piece at a time and it’s the light powdery stuff that’s pretty easy to clear. The big job, as always, is the backyard deck, which I Must get clear before the snow begins to melt and refreeze.

The car can just sit for a while. I’m not driving Anywhere in this. The house is fully stocked and I can walk to the grocery store if I need anything. Maybe take a walk to Papi’s later.

by Bruce | Link | React!

January 13th, 2024

A Lovely Spring Morning In January

I woke up just before sunrise and went downstairs to check the bay window to see if there were any leaks after the rain last night. There were no leaks, but also practically no rain overnight either that I could tell, at least compared to the big storm a couple days ago. So I really don’t know if I fixed the leaks or not. I patched every possible gap and crack I could see where water might get in though, so there’s that anyway. And what rain there was Did hit the front of the house directly like before. There just wasn’t as much of it.

Next step is to tempt fate and put everything back on the bay window shelf and see if it gets leaked on again. Hahahahaha… Sigh.

Before I took a look outside to see what the overnight rain patterns looked like, I checked the thermostat to see how cold it was out there. It told me it was 50 degrees outside. In January. Before sunup.

I got out onto my porch in my cutoffs and a t-shirt and I swear it felt like a spring morning. There were even robins chirping in the trees just like a typical spring morning around here.

Oh wait…it’s Maryland. They’re calling for snow next week…

by Bruce | Link | React!

January 11th, 2024

Not As Ready As I Thought

That storm I spoke of previously hit us Tuesday evening and it brought with it a driving rain the likes of which I’ve never seen around here. I have a roofed over front porch and maybe a few inches of rain around the porch floor is as much as I’ve ever seen. It’s very infrequent that it even reaches the front doorstep. This time the storm completely soaked the front door and the bricks on the front wall, all the way up to the top of the porch ceiling. I’ve never seen that in the 22 years I’ve owned this house.

I staged a step ladder on the second floor so I could poke my head up into the tiny attic space…it isn’t even a crawlspace, just maybe six inches between the roof beams and the ceiling beams…and shine a high intensity flashlight around to check for leaks. It was dry as a bone up there, even during the worst of the storm. The bay window in my living room was another story.

I’d never seen it leaking before. Ever. But those leaks may have all been laying in wait for just the right storm to come along. I got out some buckets and some construction bag liners to divert the water into the buckets, then mopped up as much as I could. It wasn’t a disaster, just something new I had to fix that I wasn’t expecting.

I figured there was some leaks on the outside top of the bay window I needed to take care of next morning. But next day was cold and very windy and I didn’t want to be up on a ladder in that weather. So I put the big ladder up today and took a look at what sort of work I have in store up there, thinking that if I fall over and break my neck at least I’ll have died doing something I love (smirk).

(I was careful to put my Apple watch on before I started climbing the ladder, because it will detect a hard fall and if I don’t respond it will alert my brother and call 911 for me, giving them my GPS coordinates.)

There was nothing there that I could see that would even possibly be a way for water to get in. I judged the area around the window frame when it meets the brick might use a touch of that rubber sealant I bought, but it seemed pretty solid. The brickwork above it was another story.

See…my little Baltimore rowhouse only has front and back outside walls, and they are brick veneer over concrete block. What I saw were several largish holes in the mortar between the bricks where water could easily get in between the brick and the concrete block, assuming the rain was being driven hard in that direction, and then run down to the inside top of the window.

Normally this would not happen since rain doesn’t hit that side of the house very hard. Yes it gets wet, but windy driving rains here tend to come from either the east or west, not the south and they don’t hit the face of the house with a lot of force. But at the right angle those holes in the mortar could easily have let in the rain water that was dripping from the inside top of my bay window. Repointing the brick is going to be expensive and I’ve nowhere near that kind of money set aside just yet. But it couldn’t be done in the winter anyway.

Here’s where city life came in handy. So I’m taking my morning walk around the neighborhood thinking about what to do about those holes in the mortar before the next storm arrives…maybe squirt some Henry’s into them…when I walk past an end of group unit with someone on a ladder up against the side of the house, and it looks like they’re dealing with the same brickwork problem I have. Bear in mind all the houses here are the same basic floorplan, the only difference with that one was it’s an end of group unit so it had three exposed walls to the weather.

So I go over and ask him if he’s a contractor or the homeowner. He says he’s a brother-in-law. We chat for a bit. Seems his bother’s side windows were leaking during that last storm just like my bay window was, and likely for the same reason. What are you using in those holes, I ask. He shows me a tube of fibrous mortar patch, and explains how that’s better to use in this weather, and doesn’t cause a problem with repointing the bricks later.

I make a mental note of the product thinking I’ll go get some. Then he says he has an extra tube he won’t need and he’ll sell it to me for what he paid for it. I love city life.

I squirted that stuff into the holes, and a few large cracks, in the mortar above my bay window. Then I ran some of that spray rubber sealant around the edges of the window frame. Now we wait.

I’ll keep the buckets handy. Thing is, if there are no more leaks but the rain doesn’t hit the house this time like it did last time, I still won’t know if I fixed the right problem or not.

Turns out there is a significant amount of debugging involved in owning a house.


by Bruce | Link | React!

October 22nd, 2023

A Wee Journey Through The Parts Labyrinth For Just One Damn Part

My brother’s kitchen has the nice new stove he’d bought a few months before I arrived. It was so new and pristine that every time I used it I felt a need to thoroughly clean it after every use, and sometimes I would spot clean it while he was away on work. It was reflex, it looked so nice and new.

So I get home and take a fresh look at the one he helped me buy that time he was here and I’m shocked, shocked, at how much grunge I let build up on mine. Okay, it wasn’t much but it was enough compared to his nice new one. So I resolved to basically give my stove a detailing.

But first, I had to order a new center grill for it since I use that a Lot and mine had grunged up, and the no stick surface worn down to the bare aluminum. It was beyond cleaning, so I decided just to order a new one and take the one I had to recycling. It’s all aluminum and that’s an excellent metal to recycle. And it was actually the second griddle I’d bought for my stove because I’d worn out the one that came with it in just a few years. I use the griddle Lots and that non stick surface just couldn’t handle it. So I did what I had before, and looked up the model number of my stove on the manufacturer’s website (GE), and once there expected to just be able to order a new griddle for that stove like I had before.

But this time the page for my stove just said my stove was no longer being made and that was all. No parts list, nothing. This surprised me because that stove isn’t all that old, but looking back it was the the floor model I bought. and I realized it had probably already been discontinued when I bought it (which maybe explained the nice discount I got for it more than the fact that it was the floor model). Annoyingly, the manufacturer’s website wouldn’t give me part numbers for stoves they weren’t making anymore. So I couldn’t just look up the part number on the griddle and see if someone somewhere had any. Maybe if I had a professional account access I could have found it.

But I kept digging and finally found a website that had a part number for the griddle. Great. Eventually I found a place that had a few left in stock. Annoyingly they weren’t listed as being for my stove, but for the model after mine that I suppose was still being made.

I looked carefully at the illustration for the part and it looked like mine, so I took a chance and bought one. It came the other day and it fit perfectly. And it was so nice and new I had to spend all day yesterday basically giving the stove a detailing.

I’ll try my best to keep the one I installed clean between uses like I did Bill’s new one. But I went back to where I bought the new griddle and bought a second one just to keep in storage. I use the griddle Lots, and my cardiologist would probably not approve, but in my defense I fry with olive oil which they say is actually good for the heart. Two should last me for however long I have to live in this house.

by Bruce | Link | React!

Squoosh Me…Go Ahead…

I’m at my drafting table wiping off the iPad Pro screen when I decide I need the lamp on to better judge how clean I’m getting it. As I reach over to the lamp switch I notice the button looks a bit odd. Then I see that there’s a wasp sitting right on top of the button. 

Okay…so I’m not pressing that button right this minute…

Two thoughts come to mind. 1) How the hell did that get in here? and 2) How the hell am I getting it out?

It seemed a bit sluggish, so I grabbed a small cup and with a paper towel knocked it into the cup and covered the cup with the towel. Then I took it outside and shook it out, thinking it would just fall to the ground, but no, it flew right off. Away from me and the house thankfully.

All I can think is I’ve had the windows open much of the daytime since I’ve been back. Weather’s nice enough for it and after three months and a tad of being shut up the house probably needed to breath. But I’ve screens on all the windows and storm doors. I guess they find little gaps to crawl through but I don’t see any.

I suppose it’s that time of year for all the bugs to be looking for winter digs. No…not here you don’t…

by Bruce | Link | React!

October 20th, 2023

Adventures In Home Ownership…(continued)

Trimming the wild overgrowth on the hillside in front of my house with a hedge trimmer…wishing I had a lightsaber…

Just Swoosh…Swoosh… and done!

by Bruce | Link | React!

October 22nd, 2022

The Dead Birds That Saved Lives…

Sometime after I bought the house the furnace that was in it suffered a cracked heat exchanger and my CO detectors went off. Since just then I didn’t know for certain what was causing my CO detectors to alert, my first instinct was to call the gas company. But the gas company says no, first you call the fire department.

Here’s why…

1 dead, 10 hospitalized from carbon monoxide leak after birds alert firefighters

AKRON, Ohio (WJW) – One person has died following a carbon monoxide leak at an Ohio apartment complex in which pet birds alerted firefighters to the danger.

A fire crew had been called to an older man’s apartment for a medical emergency. He seemed confused, disoriented. While they examined him the old man asked about his birds…he had almost a dozen of them. One of the firemen looked over at a cage…and saw four dead birds on the bottom of it. There was a carbon monoxide leak somewhere in the apartment complex.

They went door to door checking for CO in the apartments and looking for the leak.  Behind one door they had to break down they found a family and kids already unconscious and got them to the hospital. In all, one resident was found in their bathroom, dead, and ten were taken to the hospital. 

This is why when, years ago, I called the gas company they told me no, call the fire department. The fire department can break down doors if they have to in order to fight a fire, or track down where a CO leak is coming from. In my case, though I was pretty sure the CO was coming from my furnace, the fire department had to make sure it wasn’t coming from somewhere else, or got into any other units next to or near mine. After they localized it to my furnace, They called the gas company, who came with a more sensitive detector and eventually showed me where on the heat exchanger the crack was, and then put a little Out Of Service tag on my furnace. (Not that I was likely to turn it back on again!)

I had space heaters and it wasn’t so bitterly cold just then, but I ended up having to spend about five grand for an entire new furnace. Upside was the new one is a Lot more efficient than the one that was there.

I’ve written about this previously. My CO detectors probably saved my life. At the time I had two of them, one in the basement near the furnace, and the other in my bedroom. Now I have them on all three floors. They’re a tad pricey and you have to replace them periodically, but they can save your life so just get some. The rule of thumb is you put your CO detectors near the floor, and your smoke detectors near the ceiling.

[Update…] I’m told now that putting your CO detectors near the floor is a myth. Usually people put them there because they often need to be plugged into an electric outlet, but they can go nearly anywhere because CO mixes easily with the air in a room. I would still recommend putting one near your bed at head level…but…wherever seems to be fine as long as one is near the bedroom and none of them are too close to fuel fed appliances like a stove or furnace.

by Bruce | Link | React!

October 12th, 2022

Oh What A Lovely Day To…Stay Home And Do Housework…

Well…lawn and garden work.

It’s another lovely day outside and I’m strongly tempted to take a drive somewhere with one or more of my cameras because I don’t know how many more of these we’ll have before winter sets in. But the sky is uninteresting today and I have some outdoor work I need to do to start getting the house ready for Halloween.

Time was, one thing I’d do is take a big piece of chalk and write HELP ELEANOR COME HOME on the bricks next to my front door. But that’s a reference nobody got and my next door neighbor has named the calico Eleanor so everyone here might think it’s about the cat.


by Bruce | Link | React!

July 23rd, 2022

Dealing With A Heatwave And Mosquitoes

I’ve taken to putting out a bowl of ice next to the water bowl on the porch when it gets this hot. The calico won’t have anything to do with the ice, but when it’s halfway melted she’ll drink from that bowl first, then finish up with the regular water bowl. I’ve no idea what that thought process is.

There’s plenty of shade on my porch, under the trees and she rotates lounging spots. I keep inviting her inside but she won’t have it. So she stays out in the heat. I make sure she has plenty of water. It’s the best I can do.

I got the birdbath going again this morning. At some point I need to adjust its footing and make it level again. Right now I just have some wedges in place. I bought a twirling thing some years ago that keeps the water in it moving, supposedly to discourage mosquito egg laying. Customers usually come pretty quickly in this sort of heat. Mostly they drink, but every now and then I see someone taking a bath in it. The twirler takes up a bunch of space in the middle and I think that keeps most of the bathers out. But at least they get a drink.

I’ll put some water dishes out back, I just have to remember to take them back inside at night and run them through the dishwasher to rid any mosquito larva out of them.

I have a mosquito kill fogger I run every couple days to spray under the deck, a space that I can’t keep standing water out of. It discharges a very dense fog of mosquito kill and it’s very effective, but I have to warn my neighbors when I’m about to use it to keep their pets indoors for a while. They don’t seem to mind I think because it does very effectively keep the mosquitos away. But I can’t use it out front by the outdoor faucet because there are cats out and about there. There is a “natural” mosquito repellant spray I Can use however because it’s pet friendly. It definitely stinks of some spicy plant and after I use it the two street cats that hang out here turn up their noses and avoid the area. I can verify that it keeps the mosquitoes away too, but only for a couple days.

by Bruce | Link | React!

June 27th, 2022

Adventures In Home Ownership…(continued)

So it seems my central AC compressor has failed beyond repair now and it’s time for a new one. No worries about my situation…I have two window units I can depend on to keep the critical rooms in the house cool. I bought them years ago when the compressor was acting up (it just needed a new start relay then) on the grounds that I needed a plan B for the house in case of failure during a heat wave. So in that regard I’m good.

I was thinking since I’m on retirement income now that I’d have to wait a few years to save the money for a new compressor, and just rely on the window units, and maybe even make that a permanent solution since a window unit is much cheaper than a central air compressor, and a couple of those are unlikely to both fail at the same time. But I got a very nice quote on a new one that I can pay for out of pocket savings, so, if the quote is real, I’m going to go ahead with it.

Sales will be calling back, so I’m told, with either the proper company name on the caller ID, or “UNKNOWN”, which means I have to pause RoboKiller for the day. Swell. So now I also get to be bothered by a bunch of auto warranty foofs all day too. One just called now in fact.

by Bruce | Link | React!

November 3rd, 2021

Must Be November

Ummmm…sixty-three degrees in the living room this morning. Must finally be time to turn on the furnace. 

Ah…the smell of the first gas fired furnace heat of the season…

by Bruce | Link | React!

March 3rd, 2019

The Bidet…A Couple Weeks Later

So…the bidet… And if you think this is oversharing feel free to change the channel. But some people expressed interest in how well the thing actually works.

Just to recap, I bought one of those bidet toilet seat conversions when I saw a really nice one that Costco was selling for slightly better than half off. I’m assuming it’s an about to be discontinued model, because when I last checked they still have it listed on the manufacturer’s website.

It was a pretty simple and straightforward installation, but then I have a bunch of tools and a near lifetime of experience doing my own simple household repairs and improvements. Even growing up in a bunch of suburban garden apartments you found that fixing leaks yourself got the job done quicker than calling the landlord, plus it kept strangers out of your nest. The thing most people get wrong when replacing things like a toilet float, hoses and faucet washers is they over tighten the connections and then they leak. Hand tighten, and then just a tad more with the wrench will usually do it. (When changing an oil filter, Only hand tighten.) This time I had to go back and gently add some torque to a couple of the connections a day later when I noticed some minor drippage, but it was pretty simple otherwise. My bathroom had outlets nearby but I did have to run a power strip to the wall behind the toilet. The instructions said to use a surge protector.

Does it work? Well I can’t speak to how well it works on lady parts, but as to the part we all share…yes. Absolutely! Gets you spic and span. Much Much better and more hygienically than paper. But there are adjustments you need to tweak: water temperature, pressure, nozzle position and whether to turn on the aerator. The spray is timed for a minute and then automatically stops, or stops instantly if you get off the seat. Repeat as needed. My experience is adjusting the position of the nozzle back and forth while it’s working gives best results. I only use toilet paper now to dry myself and that’s cut down my use of it considerably, and counter intuitively it’s also cut down water consumption. That’s from flushing the paper down. Now I flush less often, so that’s less water down the drain. There’s an air dry function that’s timed for three minutes but I have no patience.

There’s a seat warmer which is nice, and is adjustable. There’s a fan that turns on and pulls air out of the bowl while you’re sitting on it, and out through a carbon filter to keep the bathroom stink free. It shines a soft blue light into the bowl which is nice for when your bladder insists in the middle of the night. I give it a thumbs up. Money well spent.

Except… Due to being needed at Goddard first thing Friday morning I rented a room in Greenbelt Thursday night. Shortly after I got there I realized that when I travel from now on I’m going to miss having that bidet whenever wherever I need to hit the john. All technology is a two edged sword.

by Bruce | Link | React!

April 15th, 2018

Why I Never Get Any Work Done Outside

I keep waiting for spring to happen here in Maryland, and I keep forgetting that central Maryland is one of those places where the weather gets squirrely this time of year. One minute it’s finally spring, the next it’s back to flannel shirt weather again. Yesterday it was in the 80s here in Charm City. Right now as I type this it’s cool in that bone chillingly humid way the mid Atlantic just loves to dish out. Humidity is like the secret sauce of miserable in these parts, though I can hear southerners laughing at me as I type this.

I was going to get some outdoor work done this weekend in preparation for spring eventually getting here, or maybe just a dash straight into summer. I never feel like I’m giving my little Baltimore rowhouse enough love. I put on new steel entry doors in the kitchen and basement. The original wood doors were still there and looking their age. I got a nice full length glass panel door with blinds strung between the glass panels for the kitchen entry, and now I’m getting use to having that extra sunlight coming in the kitchen, plus being able to enter and leave by the back door without having to fuss with it jamming in the frame all the time. Somehow when you make improvements like that it motivates you to pretty up the surroundings.

I had a list of things I planned to do. Yesterday was going to be prepping the backyard for spring flower planting and putting out the solar lights. But then I decided wanted to listen streaming music from Radio Paradise while I worked. Then I looked at where I have the Roku box mounted by the TV and saw the problem I’d been putting off fixing with the coax running to the TV antenna I have mounted to one of the front window panels. So I decided to fix that. Plus, a friend gave me his old Blu-Ray player and I decided to fix the issue with the cabling of that to the TV that I’d been putting off, while I was fixing the other problem. I was using an s-video to RCA cable on the DVD player but the Blu-Ray player didn’t have the s-video socket. It did have the usual RCA jacks though. So I went down to the basement to dig through my storage container full of cables to see if I had another good set of those, plus a coax extender for the TV antenna. I had neither. So I got in the car and drove to one of the big box hardware stores in Cockeysville to get some.

Why am I using RCA connectors on a Blu-Ray player…I hear you asking. Because my TV set is an old Sony Trinitron and I just don’t watch enough TV anymore to justify buying one of the new flat panel HD ones just for HD video. Local broadcast TV is really all I need. But the Blu-Ray player plays one of my Outer Limits season 1 DVDs that the DVD player wouldn’t, so there’s that.

When I got back from the big box and finally got my cables in order I tried to get the Roku tuned to Radio Paradise (remember, this is what started it) and discovered I was getting no video signal out of the Roku. I spent a couple hours fussing with it and finally did a hard reset, which meant I had to go log on to the Roku website, dig up my Roku account password, and mate the box to the account again. My crappy Verizon DSL bandwidth made that process drag out horribly. But I finally got it all done and in total getting distracted by the notion that listening to music while I worked would be nice only took about four and a half ours out of my day. By then I was ready for an afternoon nap. I’m old. But I did at least get a first round of cleaning the backyard deck done. That deck is going to need more TLC though before it’s ready for spring and the precious few weeks I can lounge out on it without getting eaten by mosquitoes. They say that mosquitoes aren’t very strong flyers so I think I might invest in an oscillating fan for the deck this year, as an alternative to festooning it with mosquito coil pots. I also got a bunch of indoor work done, but alas nothing on the drafting table.

I was going to make it up today with a burst of work in the front yard. I need to take the pressure washer to the walkway, weed whack the little amount of actual grass I have out there (it’s a narrow noodle of property I live on) trim the edges and get the flower pots ready for planting. But then this happened…

How can I possibly disturb this? Cats have this preternatural ability to curl themselves up into forms that would be absolutely inhuman to disturb. Plus, it’s become really chilly outside and she might want to go into that shelter I made for her and she won’t if I scare her off with the weed whacker and the pressure washer. So I did more yard work out back. Basically everything I was going to do yesterday until I got distracted by wanting to listen to music.

So things do eventually get done around here. Just not in the order I ever plan for it.

by Bruce | Link | React!

March 10th, 2016

Like A Good Neighbor…(continued)

Came home to find a letter from the Maryland State Insurance Commissioner’s Office, telling me that they’d convinced State Farm to cancel my car insurance premium hike and refund the money Plus Interest.

I’m stunned. After I mailed off my form protesting the hike, back in October, I heard absolutely zilch back from them and figured it had just been conveniently lost in the bureaucratic shuffle. I would have expected at least a notice that the form and been received. But it was dead silence. Five months later they tell me I won.

Well this is good, but I hope State Farm doesn’t think it means I’m sticking with them. I was in the middle of exploring other options for car and home owner’s insurance when this letter came. There are lots of companies out there offering cheaper rates for the same coverage or better. And I am not at all happy that my local State Farm Agent dropped a clause into my home owner’s policy exempting damage from collapse. I have a flat roof and that is the one thing you absolutely need protection on if you have one of those.

by Bruce | Link | React!

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