Archive for category The House

We've been gnomed…

It seems that our yard has been turned into a prison for gnomes. It made my day! 🙂

Solitary Confinement

Deer Me

What we have here is a failure to communicate...

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Weather Station more stable…

The weather station software stopped working a couple of times in the past 24 hours, so I tried another Serial to USB converter I had available. I’m pretty sure the converter that shipped with the La Crosse WS-2316 was the culprit because I could get things working by stopping the software, removing the USB device, reinsert it, and reenabling the software. The symptoms seem likely to be a driver issue with the original adapter. I guess I’ll know if that is true after this new adapter runs for a while.

I wonder if the protocol for the WS-2316 is published anywhere… It would be interesting to see what it provides and perhaps create some different software to process the data. After a bit of searching, it appears there is a little information on the protocol here and here. Maybe if I can find some free time, I’ll try to put together an application to get the data from the unit. I’m using the WUHU software right now, and it works ok, but I’d like to optimize the data I collect for what I am interested in.

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Weather Station activated…

Yesterday was another adventure with the aluminum extension ladder. Normally, it comes out when I need to clean the gutters, put up the Christmas lights, and remove the lights again. Occasionally, I use it to retrieve a stuck rocket, ball or airplane that somehow “accidentally” gets launched up on the roof. Yesterday was an all together different beast. This year, I got a weather station as a gift. Installing the rain gauge and sending unit was a piece of cake. The anemometer, and wind vane was a little more work. The manual suggested that it should be located three to four feet above the peak of the roof. It came with a 30 foot cord to connect to the sending unit, which made the whole configuration a little tricky. I decided the best thing to do was mount it on a mast on the chimney. This is where the adventure begins. I found the parts I needed on the Radio Shack website: the mast, and a mounting kit. The mounting kit comes with two stainless steel straps. Or should I say eighteen foot razor blades. Those things are sharp. I ended up working with gloves on to get them in place. The straps also have a lot of memory, which makes some things easier and some things more difficult. The difficult part is that our chimney is on one side of the house, so wrapping the straps around it involves spanning the area that you can’t stand next to. My wife is uncomfortable with heights, so I ended up having to do most of it by myself. The ratchets were not the best. The metal they are made of it quite soft, which makes them a little hard to get tight. Creative use of duct tape to hold the strapping in place temporarily, and a few choice swear words later, and the mast is mounted on our roof.

I’ve been having a problem with the USB->Serial adapter that came with the unit, as it seems stop responding occasionally, and I have to reboot the host computer. I’m guessing the Vista driver isn’t all that great. When it is working, you can see what the data looks like here. I added a Weather Underground widget on the right that displays information from it. If I can’t get the USB->Serial connection working consistently, I may have to make a host computer out of a machine with a dedicated serial port. It sounds like I could make the host machine Linux based too. That’s an adventure for another day.

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Drip drip drip at 3 am

Our cat, Benson, has this less than charming behavior he adopted this summer. Usually at three or four in the morning, he begins howling outside the hallway door. I’m convinced his howling could wake the dead. It usually means he wants to go outside. Lisa says it is a trait of Siamese to howl like that. He is more of a mutt than anything. In any regard, he woke my up yesterday at 3 AM, but I’m glad he did.

He wanted to go out as usual. When I was heading back to bed after letting him out, I heard an odd dripping sound coming from the bathroom. I thought maybe the shower had been left on, so I looked around. I realized the sound was coming from the basement. Our basement is finished, with a second bathroom. After poking around downstairs for about an hour, I finally isolated the problem to a section of one wall — there was a leak somewhere in there, and it had made the floor wet. I turned off the water to the house (something I need to add to our “going out of town” to do list) and started looking for a plumber. I came up with a list of five, and set up the list for Lisa to call when she was up and about.

We settled on Bruner Plumbing, and I’m glad we did. They had the leak fixed in a little over an hour. The charges were reasonable.

The odd thing about the leak was that it was in a copper pipe. Dean, the guy from Bruner who came out, had a theory that the pipe was under some stress that eventually lead to the failure. Some of the plumbing done by a previous owner was less than ideal, and this particular pipe seems to have been forced to pass through some holes in studs that weren’t on the level, and maybe a little tight. Looks like we will have to plan to redo the plumbing downstairs eventually.

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A Face on Drug Purchase in Portland

Last night, a scraggly couple of people were sitting on the corner in front of my house. It seemed a bit odd, to just be sitting there talking, but I dismissed it as a couple of people taking a break from the heat. I went outside to water the yard, in an attempt to keep some of our plants alive. I have been fairly successful thus far. The hosta, which is normally a dry mass of leaves by the beginning of August is still very green and healthy looking. All the fuchsias are happy and have blooms on them. I haven’t been watering very much, just a few minutes in the evening. Usually this is a pretty quiet time in our neighborhood. Yesterday, though, there were some events that distracted me from my task. As I was spreading out the hose, I heard music which sounded like a mariachi band. This isn’t the normal music one hears on our street. A minivan was driving by, with both front windows open, playing music pretty loudly. When the van passed, one of the two people sitting on the corner rushed to his feet and started walking down the middle of the road toward the van. I knew immediately what this was: the people waiting on the corner were waiting to buy drugs from the guy in the van. This had happed occasionally in the past. I took out my cell phone and snapped a quick picture of the girl standing there, and the guy rushing off to see the van. Walking to meet his dealer Leaving common sense behind, I marched down the street to see if I could get the license plate of the van. The girl was taken aback by my behavior and tried to distract me from what I was doing. I saw the plate, the driver saw me, and he headed further down the road. The guy in the street followed. Once I had the plate, I came back and had a discussion with the girl. She had ratty clothes, but was relatively clean. I told her that I lived there, and I didn’t want them buying drugs around my neighborhood, house or family. She had lots of silly stupid things to say: “I don’t do drugs”, “Porland is the Herion capital of the world, that’s why I don’t live here”, “Why do you care?”.

I was irritated, but it really is sad to see young people like that. She didn’t look older than 17. The guy seemed to have abandoned her, so eventually she went off in the opposite direction. Hopefully they won’t do that again there. The last thing anyone in our neighborhood wants is to have dealers using our neighborhood as a meeting point. If there is a next time, I’ll have my high-res camera handy so I can give better information to the police.

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Grape Hyacinth pictures

I took some close up pictures with our digital camera of the grape hyacinths in the yard a few days ago. Here is one of the pictures. Click on it to see the rest in the gallery.

Grape Hyacinth

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Threat Of Snow and A Small TV

It seems the weather men are at it again. The threat of “snow” is in the air. There is a small chance that it might actually be below freezing somewhere near the ground in the next 24 hours. I’m certain “Stormwatch 2005” will be in full swing on the evening news, although I never watch it.

I remember the last “big” storm we encountered, the newscasters were reporting that there was snow falling in Salem. That made the news. Almost as exciting as this entry.

Next week is a big one for our household. Lisa and I are going in for the next ultrasound, and we should find out the gender of the baby! Once we know the gender, name selection should be a little bit easier. It will at least cut down on the potential search parameters.

Work has been time consuming, and we had a slight reprieve with the Thanskgiving break. It would have been nice to have a few more days off before the chaos of the end of year holidays begin, but such is life.

Our television stopped working a few weeks ago, and we have been forced to use Lisa’s 13″ television. The color reproduction on her 13″ is a lot better than the 27″ we had before. I’d like to replace the 13″ with a 32″ LCD HD television, but I have run into complications. First is the expense. I can’t justify spending that much money for a new TV right now. The second is the cabinet. The TV must be 32″ wide to fit into the cabinet that Lisa bought a while back. The interior of the cabinet is actually 38″, but the doors on the cabinet push in when they are open, to be out of the way. Unfortunately this leaves us with 32″ of space. It has been a bit difficult to find a 32″ LCD that doesn’t have speakers on the side.

On that note, shopping for a TV is at best frustrating. I’ve read reviews online. I’ve been to Best Buy, and Costco to compare. The problem with Best Buy is that they don’t seem to care what the TVs look like. Half of them are out of adjustment, one of them even had the cables swapped, so all the colors were inverted. Its nearly impossible to make a sane decision about what is good and bad in those environments. The sales people could seem to care less.

I’ll just keep saving my pennies, and perhaps someday soon I can replace the 13″ with something more, well, visible.

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The lovely sight of canine vomit in the morning…

I thought it might be a bit of a difficult morning today because of the adjustment in time for Daylight Saving Time. It wasn’t terribly hard to get out of bed. The thing that made the morning slightly unpleasant was the dog. He vomited right in front of the bathroom door while Lisa was in the shower. I noticed it right after my breakfast, which in my mind was better than before breakfast. It wasn’t too bad to clean up, and I went on about my morning. Later, while letting the cats out, I found the other pile of it. Well, found isn’t quite the right word. Maybe I should say my shoe found the other pile of it, right in front of the door. I wasn’t terribly pleased. I cleaned that up too. After that, the morning seemed to move right along. I took Morgan to school and headed out to work. I hope the dog isn’t getting sick.

In other news, my tomatoes are finally growing. As usual, I started the seeds in late February. The first batch didn’t grow well at all. I tried a different approach this year, which I won’t do again. Normally, I put one seed in each peat pot. I put these peat pots in a plastic “green house” over a heating pad. This year, I tried using the square peat pots, and put the seeds in starter mix. This didn’t work very well, as I had a hard time watering the pots. The soil would tend to roil about in the pot, and I think the seeds had difficulty with that. After two weeks, I didn’t have any real sprouts. I started again, using my old method. So far, I have a pretty healthy crop of starters. Hopefully they will grow quickly so I can get them out in the garden in a couple of weeks. Lisa and I bought have a bunch of interesting sounding varieties that we hadn’t tried before, so I am hopeful we will get some good tomatoes. I don’t have the list of them in front of me right now, but maybe I can find it tonight.

I haven’t been posting recently. I just haven’t had time. Between crunch time at work, baseball, Easter, and everything else that has been going on, there just isn’t time in the day. I’m hoping to find time to do it regularly.

One thing I did want to mention is that I had the opportunity to see our new CEO, Mike Hurd, speak via video conference. I was impressed by his sense of humor, as well as his casual style to the presentation. It was a pretty stark contrast to Carly. I hope he will have a positive impact on this company. It certainly needs something.

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The Trouble with Miscreants

Two weekends ago I had a little issue with people around our house again. I was busy in our bedroom putting away clean laundry. Our bedroom faces the street, and the blinds were open because it was a sunny day. I noticed there were four people sitting on our neighbor’s retaining wall. I hadn’t seen them before. One of them was pouring the contents of a two liter bottle of Pepsi on the lawn in the right of way. I thought that odd. I kept watching him. He stopped pouring when the bottle was half empty. He then took a bottle of whiskey and poured it into the 2 liter bottle. “Great.”, I thought, “They are going to sit there and get drunk.” I called the Portland non-emergency police number. While I was on the phone with the operator describing the people, the only female of the group climbed into my yard. I told this to the operator. She then dropped her pants. I told this to the operator too. She urinated on my lawn. I told this to the operator too. The operator was disgusted. The operator asked if an officer could contact me about the incident. I agreed, assuming that this infraction would be at least cited. About 10 minutes later, a car showed up with two officers. One officer examined the 2 liter bottle, which was nearly empty now. They talked to the group, and got identification information from them. Then the officers got back in their car. The group started wandering down the street. When the group was a distance away, I went out and talked to the officers. One officer said they had asked them to leave. I mentioned that the female had urinated in my yard. He mentioned again that they asked them to leave. I thanked them for their time.

Frankly I was surprised that the officers didn’t bother citing the guy with the open container, nor the woman for urination in public (much less on my lawn). I wrote an email to Mayor Tom Potter. In previous conversations I have had with officers, they felt that Vera Katz had taken tools away from them in dealing with the transients. They were told, according to the officers, to “be nice” to the homeless. I mentioned this in my email to Tom Potter, as well as my frustration with dealing with drunken people littering and loitering around my house.

Surprisingly enough, I got a personal reply from the Mayor. He said, among other things, that Vera Katz wasn’t responsible for taking away tools from the officers, that in fact it was the result of several court decisions. He also said that he forwarded my email to someone and that I would be hearing from an officer. While I was impressed by the personal reply, and his attitude, I’m still waiting for that officer to get in touch with me.

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Cool Portland Specific website…

I ran across this cool Portland website that can tell you a bit about the history of your home in terms of permits, and assessed value. In addition, it has crime, census and development projects that are happening near your home as well. For example, I learned that there are around 11,000 people in the Richmond neighborhood, and that we had an oil tank installed in our yard in 1952. It is run by the City of Portland. Check it out! www.portlandmaps.com

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