Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Home Improvement, sort of...

Since Dad & Randy were so gracious as to buy us yard services, we figure we owe it to ourselves to get the house and property looking nice, too. To that end, we bought new outdoor lighting a couple of weeks ago. I had put off installing it while I finished Project Miata, but yesterday afternoon, with Amanda and Alastair at the mall, I took a crack at installing one of the lights.

It was pretty easy, except that nobody ever bothered to install an electrical box on the outside of the house. The old fixture was simply drilled into the mortar with the electric cable dangling out of the wall. Not one to go drilling 4" holes in the side of my house, I left well enough alone and drilled new holes, this time in the brick (using mortar as an anchor is bad). The wiring was honestly the most complicated part, as the internal wiring was interior wiring, and not color-coded for hot/ground. I just guessed: it's a light bulb, after all, and not a high-amp device.

The results were dramatic: I was able to fully obscure the old installation holes and the new fixture puts out almost twice as much light!

Then, last night, Amanda started having problems with her brand new LaserJet 3055 all-in-one. Then I started having problems with it, and then she lost connectivity to the server. Things were going bad quickly, and the DHCP table on my Linksys router was all kinds of screwed up. I did a reset, but then realized I had no idea what the default username/password were.

I searched for over an hour for a manual before giving up and going to Walmart for a new router. When I got that home, I realized why I couldn't find the manual: there is none. So, out came the old CD, and a quick search through the setup guide revealed the default values.

I got the router re-configured, and figured all was well, but not so: Amanda still couldn't print! WTF? I manually entered all the systems on my network into my DNS server, but still nothing.

At this point, we were both getting pretty steamed, since she had work to do and I needed to go to bed. On a quick glance through the router's DHCP setup, I noticed the error: the internal DNS server was not defined in my scope options. I set it, ran an "ipconfig /release" and "ipconfig /renew" on both PC's, and all was well.

I kissed her good night, laid down, and passed out almost immediately.

Long night.

Back to home improvement...

Last week the drain on the kitchen sink burst. It started as a drip, but within a few hours, everything poured down the drain came out into a bucket under the sink. This was a re-hash of problems we'd had a month or so ago, so I decided it was beyond my skill-level.

I called a plumber, and they came on Friday. It seems that our new sink is so deep that it puts the disposer below the level of our drain pipe. That means that water wants to flow in the wrong direction, and puts a lot of stress on the overly tall goose-neck.

Unfortunately, the only short-term solution was to remove the disposer. The long-term ($$) option was to crawl under the house, cut, weld, snip, trim, and lower the pipes themselves.

We took the short-term option. I figured that since the hot-water heater is somewhere between 14 and 17 years old, it's not going to last much longer. We've been looking into heaters that don't have a tank (in-line heaters), so if I'm going to have a plumber digging under my house, I might as well get my money's worth.

The down-side is that I now have no disposer, and my darling wife has turned me into a raging germophobe, so cleaning the trap fouls my junk right out.

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