Thursday, December 29, 2005

Home Ownership Anecdotes

I recently mounted a nice metal candle-holding thingy on our kitchen wall over the table, as well as a giant curtain rod to put a valance up above our bay window in the living room. Both projects sound simple (and were), but involved a little bit of time and elbow grease to do properly. They both involved measurements, use of a (laser) level, drilling pilot holes, putting in fastener supports, and then screwing the items into the wall. So far, so good.

I also bought a replacement wall plate for the cable jack in the study, and put that in. No problems there, except that the hole in the wall jack was too narrow and the cable didn't fit right, and actually bent. I had to straighten it with a pair of pliers, and widen the hole with a nail, but no lasting damage done.

Along the same lines, I replaced the wall jack for the phone in that room, but that didn't actually fix anything. I'm very disappointed, and feel like I'm back to square one there. I need to extend my diagnostic options -- a voltmeter will tell me what's going on with the wires (as they aren't totally dead), and more investigation in the attic might yield more results about how that room even got a phone jack (as only 4 wires come down from the attic and there are five rooms wired with jacks). Besides, every self-respecting geek homeowner needs a voltmeter, right?

And, the tale I saved for last involves exciting use of new power tools. Jess bought some new handles for the cabinet doors under the sink in the bathroom, as the old handles were very cheap looking and didn't match the rest of the room. First step was to take the old handles off, which was trivial on one door but problematic on the second. The handles are not as simple as you'd think -- they are wood, and set into the wood is some sort of metal "sleeve" which is threaded inside and out. The screw actually fits into this sleeve, and not directly into the wood. I have no idea why.

For the first handle, loosening the screws resulted in the screws coming back out of the sleeve, as desired. For the second handle, the sleeve was ... reluctant to release the screw. Instead, the wood flew apart due to the internal twisting of the screw/sleeve assembly (cheap wood!) and broke into pieces, with the sleeve still firmly attached to the screw. I did all that I could to hold the sleeve in place with some pliers, turning the screw to try and loosen it. No dice -- I was wrecking the screw head trying to do this, and gaining no ground.

Wait, I have a dremel! With cutting discs! That I've never used!

I assemble the unit, quickly read the manual (er, well, quickly glance at the manual), put the cutting disc on, put on my safety goggles (seriously, I did), and start trying to cut the head off the screw.


So, evidently I don't know shit about how to do this. The alternatives are that the screw was very mighty, or that the cutting discs were very weak. I'm putting money on the first, though. The cutting disc broke in half after a couple seconds of impressive spark-flying.

I mount a second disc on, and try again.

This time, when the disc broke, a sizable piece flew directly at my face at high speed, and bounced off my safety goggles.

That kind of freaked me out a little. It wasn't so much a "life flash before my eyes" moment as a "vision flashed before my eyes" moment. I put the fucking death-dremel away, to Jess's vast relief.

I then just did it the old fashioned way. I grabbed the pliers, and started trying to bend the screw back and forth to weaken the metal until it broke. And ... that worked. So, yeah, go elbow grease!

Next step? A true geek labor of love -- my basement boiler room has a wall with two giant pieces of pegboard. I have a couple boxes of assorted tools, nails, screws, and other "shop" like stuff. I also (now) have a box of pegboard hooks and organizing accessories.

Oh, yeah. It's gonna be organized, like the mafia, baby.

That and I gotta put up another big curtain rod over the slider to the deck, put up some more pictures, and then start on the real next step -- making a list of all our "want to" and "need to" home projects and deciding what to start on next. Our basement slider needs immediate attention, as do our carpets. Our chimney must be inspected and cleaned out, and the sooner the better, as we take a tiny chance of catastrophic failure every time we light a fire :). The walls need painting, our deck needs redoing ... oh, boy, I could go on and on :).

Meanwhile, I sweat the small stuff. Poking around in my basement, I see a large number of dead ladybugs above the ceiling tiles. Are we going to have ladybug problems come spring?

And Jess wants to host Christmas for her family next year. Better get cracking.

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