It really ties the room together

Hardwood Floor

This past weekend we started the first major repair/upgrade/HolyCrapThisAnnoysMeLetsKillIt project since we bought the house almost 4 years ago. At the time we were the gung-ho new owner “LETS RIP THIS PLACE APART AND MAKE IT OUR HIPSTER HAVEN! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” and then the day after closing we found out kiddo #2 was on the way and we turned into “Oh crud, we need to build a nursery!” people.

The carpeting in our house has been an issue since day one. We could deal with the color but the previous owner had a cat that peed everywhere. It’s a funk that you can cover up when showing the property but once that summer heat hits we’d get the aromatic reminder of why we don’t own pets. A couple of weeks ago my wife, with tax return in hand, got the bug up her rear that this needs to happen and now. Went to Remnant City, picked out the area rug we wanted and made the commitment.

When it comes to handyman work I’m a total n00b. My father passed away years ago so I never got to tap into that homeowner wisdom of his plus when I helped him around the house I didn’t pay attention. Seriously, I’d zone out and think of Andrea on 90210 or wish I was listening to the radio. I could call others in my family for advice but it’ll end in “Don’t you have the internet, Mr. web guy?”. It was tearing up carpet so how hard could this be? Yeah, famous last words.

With the kids spending the day with their Uncle Bob we had a limited window to get the job done and I’m glad to say everything went as planned. Well, sort of.

It’s no secret the frustration we’ve had discovering the numerous half assed things that were done to our house before we moved in. We prepared for the worse and ended up with a nice surprise. When we ripped the carpet up we discovered hardwood floors that can be restored with a little work. Immediately I texted a pic to the father in law who said the splattered paint can be cleaned up and we can sand the floor down to start restoring it. The biggest pain in the butt was pulling up the boards and staples and getting the actual carpet out of the house. I pity the garbage men this week when they have to toss that thing.

I’m excited. I haven’t looked forward to doing much to this house because we were installing baby gates instead of molding and flooring and that was a motivation slayer. Now I see the potential in our property that my wife apparently always did and I get the shakes wanting to make a major Home Depot run. I don’t want to stop! I want to keep on working but thankfully my wife is there to remind me I kinda need a job to buy the supplies.

*pshhhaw* minor details I say!

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Feels like summer – Pittsburgh’s arctic blast polar vortex mageddon

Pittsburgh Arctic Blast

Pittsburgh Arctic Blast

Growing up in Erie (you knew that was coming) temperatures like this were not uncommon. Not saying that we enjoyed it, we just learned to deal with it since it was our parents decision to live in the frozen tundra.

20 years since I’ve experienced cold like this and I have to say, I kinda missed it but only briefly. Back in 94 I was in high school and only worried if my car would start so I wouldn’t have to take Erie’s public transit. Now I have to think about my family, pipes freezing as a homeowner, what to do if the power goes out… basically I became my parents.

I’m not expecting my kids to remember this freeze since they’re young and it isn’t common for the Pittsburgh area to get a freeze like this. In fact by the weekend it will be back in the high 40’s which means water mains will break and we’re going to be in for one wet week.

School was cancelled in anticipation of the cold so the boys and I headed to the library for a book and movies. Today we’ll be enjoying the finest of Scooby Doo, Lego movies and a Despicable Me marathon while huddled under blankets.

Stay warm Pittsburgh!

**UPDATE** Wife reminded me about this and I had to add it. When we shared an apartment in Erie there was an elderly man next door named Rufus who would start his beat up truck every morning at 5 and let it run for about 30-45 minutes. He never drove it anywhere, he’d just start it.

Channeling my inner MacGyver

DuctTape Hangar and Grips

DuctTape Hangar and Grips

Quick background on what happened and then I’ll get to the fun stuff.

Before we left for a 5 day vacation in central PA over the new year I placed an order online at USPS for our mail to be held until Jan 2 and I would pick it up. When we came home on Jan 1 our box was heaping from mail that was never held back. (side note: the local post office emailed me claiming they did save it and delivered it on Jan 2 even though my auto confirm states I would pick it up. Meanwhile we got the mail on the day we left and returned to a full mailbox *sigh*)

I walked outside to get the mail and, as if the universe decided to have some fun, a letter dropped straight down and through the tightest slot in between boards on my porch. Most times I’d expected mail to flutter down like a feather, zigzag like a Plinko chip or flip around like this propeller things in the fall, but that didn’t happen. It went perfectly straight and down into the abyss but I could see the letter and it looked official which was not good considering I’m waiting on unemployment paperwork.

My porch has sucked mail before. Once my wife lost a $50 gift card to the black hole and I was able to snag it with a metal hangar. Even though I consider myself to be an accomplished retrieval expert this was a different beast. The gift card had a hole at the top and it was spring time, this a letter and it was the dead of winter.

Like any social media (insert some buzzword describing my profession that makes me stabby) I consulted the white noise of Twitter and Facebook for suggestions while looking on the Google. I was told to rip the board out, cut the board, use a hangar, set the porch on fire and use a sledgehammer to break out the blocks.  Seriously, I love you guys.

I tried the hangar with duct tape on the end and that failed. First I didn’t have enough room to get the hangar through and then the tape didn’t have enough adhesive. Maybe it was a design issue? While the kids watched Scooby Doo, I sat in the living room with my fingers spaced apart and worked a bent hangar to simulate how the letter would come up. The letter was flat so I would have to turn and pray it wouldn’t fall down deeper.

I grabbed my favorite grips from the basement and went to town on squeezing the hangar just right, wrapping in duct tape and repeating. Simulation worked and now it was show time. I jammed the hangar down the crack, made contact and after some clever maneuvering I had the prize! Praying it wasn’t a piece of junk mail I opened it to find out it was indeed the unemployment papers I needed.

Sometime this spring I plan on staining my porch and fixing the things Captain Obvious did before we bought the house. Possible enhancement might be to install a net but not the trap door I wanted. My wife said something about one of our boys locking the other under the porch. Question is, would it be the 3 yr old or the 5 yr old putting the other in.

2012 Year In Review

I wasn’t going to write one of these until a few people asked where my yearly recap was so what the heck. Its 8 a.m. on 1/1/13 so better late than never right?

2012 was an interesting for me in terms of realizing what was really important for a happy life and that researching the past generations can put today into perspective.

This is probably the shortest one I’ve ever written since 2012 was not the year of blogging for me. Family and work were in overdrive this year so all of my online writings took a hit. Let’s get to it.

January – I decided it was time to start streamlining everything I do online and phase out those negative people in my life that thrive on bringing you down. This was a success and life has been much better after cutting those ties. My youngest started teething and we saw an incredible heatwave I’d love to kick back in again.

February – Groundhog obsession. Cleaned out my closet of over 25 tshirts and still had way too many clothes left. Teaspoon saw his first hockey game (RMU Women) and first basketball game (RMU Men). Birthdays of myself (36) and Teaspoon (3).

March – Bachelor week with delicious craft beers and steaks. Celebrated ST Patrick’s day with a Beer-Braised Corned Beef I made with Troegenator. Finally ate at an iHop. Lushie burned her hand really bad and Roberto Clemente made me drink cheap whiskey.

April – Pirates opened what would be another losing season. Pens scored 10 goals in 1 game against the Flyers which I called the Pearl Jam Goal. The 1st annual Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week happened.

May – Took a much needed break and spent time in Baltimore for my cousin’s wedding where we had blue crab for the first time. QR codes are not difficult to use and, while some think are hideous, can be very beneficial.

June – Arby’s 5-Strip Ultimate BLT was an insult to bacon and sandwiches. 9 years and 150,838 miles later I finally bought a new car. Teaspoon gave Father’s day a new meeting when we visited my dad’s grave site.  One of my beer articles was featured on Examiner.

July – Church festival season and a 1.5 yr old’s addiction to Jeopardy

August – My streak of 573 days for not drinking a macro beer ended and realized how much I had a dislike for craft beer snobbery. Hot water tank blew in my basement and made one heck of a mess. My beautiful face graced the pages of Zymurgy magazine for homebrewing.

September – President announced he was home brewing and a lot of us were anxious to try the recipe. Finding a decent pizza joint we can all agree on finally happened as we fell in love with Antonio’s in Brookline. My kid loves his GameBoy  more than anything. Needing a mancation and dealing with a sick kid.

October – Ate taco soup which broke a tooth and finally got the crown. Brewing a pumpkin porter and pumpkin carving.

November – I shaved off my goatee for the first time in 8 years and grew a mustache for charity. Had our 7th anniversary dinner at P.F. Changs. Trying to understand the Voter I.D. debacle. Twitter name calling reaches new low and Teaspoon thinks he’s Picasso.

December – We started using DVD players for trips. Remembering dad. Google+ releases “communities” and I LOVE it. That 12-12-12 thing happened. No, we don’t have polio. My alma mater, Erie Cathedral Prep, won the PIAA AAA football title. End of the world comes and goes. Remembering Roberto.

There you have it, 2012 year in review. Many cool things happened that I didn’t blog about so I need to be more diligent about that in 2013. The family just got back from the in-laws so I’ll have a Christmas recap coming.

Thanks to all for a fun 2012 and cheers to everyone! Hope you have a safe & happy new year!


Under pressure

I’m absolutely clueless when it comes to home repairs. I can read a manual or watch something on YouTube to pretty much figure things out but my gut reaction to every repair is “call the warranty company”. I could call my brother but he’s the “I have a guy” err guy.

Growing up my dad took care of all the repairs and even though my only role was to “hold that goddamn flashlight still” I really had no interest in fixing the house or the car. My concern was getting back to playing Nintendo and every moment lost was another that my friends would have at beating Metroid before me.

So far I’ve done pretty well with replacing the bathroom sink and fixing the toilet; much to the chagrin of a wife screaming if something is not fixed in 30 minutes or less. Apparently she has me confused with a pizza delivery guy. (note: guys, attempting to repair ANYTHING in your house will lead to a fight every time. Take that into consideration if its worth doing or paying someone else.)

Last Monday I got a call that there was water in the basement around the hot water tank. This has happened before since the pressure relief pipe was directly above the puddle but this time it was “Honey, there is A LOT of water. Its even running down the drain!”

My basement is an old yinzer style built in the 1920’s/30’s with partial broken up concrete and dirt (but no Pittsburgh Potty) so for water to get to the drain there has to be a considerable amount.

I ask what the tank looks like and she could only described it as “It’s crying… a lot. It’s coming down the sides like an overflowing glass.”  Yeah, fantastic. I tell her to shut the water to the tank off and wait until I get home.

As expected I came home to a mess that I knew I wasnt going to be an easy or cheap fix. We called a friend of ours who sends her husband over to take a look since he has some plumbing background. After a quick evaluation its determined the sucker needs replaced. I call the warranty company and it’s a back and forth battle since they can’t find anyone with an opening for 10 days. TEN DAYS! Eventually they find 1 company that can be out on Thursday.

Let’s stop right there for a moment. Right now you’re probably thinking “So how did you shower?” and the answer is quite simple. Tuesday we took the kids to a friend’s house and bathed them and then we tried to take quick cold showers at home by turning the water on quick. That, my friends, was a bad idea. Lushie found a shower elsewhere and me, well I got creative. 2 words – “Titusville shower”.

Thursday the repair guy shows up and agrees that the 12yr old tank is toast and needs replaced. He said with a smirk “Your tank is 80 psi and its pushing 110 psi WITHOUT hot water. How on earth did this thing never blow up?” We wondered the same and then he went on about whomever installed it and right away I could hear ever repair person who’s been in our house since inspection. “Wow, who did this? Nice job Captain Obvious”. Knowing the dire situation the house was in with dishes piling up and clothes for 2 little kids consuming every basket, he said the tank would be delivered on Friday.

Tank arrived at 9am and by 11am we had hot water but not without paying for it. We had to pay for a pressure regulator tank thing which was out of pocket. Plus side is that the water tank was covered so while it could have cost a lot more we saw the bright side of a $300 bill instead of $800. (We also pay for the warranty every year and a service call fee so it balances itself out).

Everything has been fine in the week following. I don’t have a wet vac so the ground has basically sucked the water back down. I think it looks bad ass black and the only complaint has come from the wife who doesn’t like the water pressure set at where its safe to be.

If she doesn’t like it I can always get the hose out 🙂