Monday, May 31, 2010

The Dark Ages

Woke up this morning to find our power had gone out sometime during the night, and that our cable was not working. Doesn't sound like too big of deal, except that we have not just cable TV, but cable internet and cable phones, so felt like we were back in the dark ages. It finally came back on around 2PM or so. Haven't seen any news on why it happened, so that's still a mystery.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

BBQ Funtime

Today my wife and I went to a BBQ over at her friend's place, and for once I didn't mess with their computer! Well, maybe just a little, but only to do a couple updates which was real quick. And Danielle showed me how to play World of Warcraft, but that doesn't count. I can see how people could become addicted to that game, though. We had burgers and hot dogs for dinner, and I tried one of those hot dogs with the built-in cheese. Didn't hate it, but definitely prefer the ones without the cheese. Anyway, definitely a nice way to spend a day.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

New Clothes

Did a little clothes shopping today, and picked up three new pairs of jeans, each different styles but all 36x32", which seem to fit better than my current 36x34" pairs. My wife got a couple shirts and some shoes.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Spare Drill Battery

Harbor Freight had my drill on sale for $15, which is the same price as a replacement battery, so I picked one up primarily just for the battery it comes with. Also got an extension cord reel and another one of those free super bright LED flashlights. Oh, and the light bulb for the dryer arrived in the mail, so I slapped that puppy in and now we once again we can light our darkest dryer!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Mr. Clean

Basically just cleaned house all day, as the place kind of got neglected these past couple weeks with me working on the sprinklers and doing some programming gigs. I put up some posters in my office, ones that I've had since high school. I'd really like to get frames for them, but I REALLY don't want to drop money on frames when there's a bunch of other more useful stuff I could be spending it on. So for now I'll just have to be satisfied with pushpins.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sprinklers Are Fixed!

Thanks to cooperating weather, I was finally able to finish fixing the backyard sprinkler system. I spliced in the new wire I bought yesterday, did a successful test to make sure it worked, then filled in all the holes and trenches I had dug. I was exhausted and so sore by the time I was finished, but damn did it feel good. And when it was all over, I had dug enough rocks out of the ground to completely fill a bland empty area over to the side of the lawn. Of course now I need to get some seed or sod or something to get my lawn looking good again. I'm not worried about the ivy patch I destroyed, as I'm sure that'll all grow back pretty quick.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

New Wire, New Conduit, New Rain

Picked up some new wire at Lowe's for the sprinkler system and went out to start prepping the area for installation when I realized that the spare PVC I had laying around wasn't going to be long enough to contain the entire wire segment, so headed back out to Lowe's to pick up a 10 foot PVC conduit. It was surprisingly cheap, just under a dollar, so basically all of this hardache for the past week could have been avoided if the people who installed this sprinkler system would have spent an extra $5 to enclose their buried wires in PVC conduit. Anyway, I started digging out a more of a straight line area to lay the conduit so I wouldn't have to bend the thing too much, but then a seriously dark cloud appeared and rain started pouring so I had to give up for the day. Forecast says the rain won't let up until Friday, but maybe I'll get lucky and I'll get a little nice weather to finish it tomorrow.

We watched the final episode of Lost tonight, and even though I enjoyed it, I was very disappointed that it left so many mysteries left unanswered.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Wires In Root

Had a dentist appointment this morning for a filling on one of my back teeth, and he used some kind of new air abrasion procedure which required no Novocaine and was completely painless, except for the uncomfortable mouth guard.

Started digging in the back yard again when I got home, and eventually discovered that both irrigation wires actually went through a rather thick tree root, as did a flexible irrigation line. I initially tried to dig them out, but quickly realized there was no way that was gonna happen. So I got out the chainsaw and disconnected the root from the tree so that it could eventually rot away. In the meantime, my plan is to pick up some new wire tomorrow and just split it in to the existing wires, completely bypassing the root. And this time I'm going to put the wire inside some PVC pipe to protect it, like they should have done in the first place. It's not like the stuff is expensive!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Wire Testing

After figuring out how to use the multimeter last night, today I set out to find the sprinkler valve control problem. I determined that the signal was properly leaving the box, and was also still in tact at the splice at the 3 valves for the front yard, where the wire takes off and starts heading to the backyard. I then tested one of the solenoids and found it to be functioning properly. From there, I dug around until I found the start of the dummy wire that runs parallel to the live wire, then hooked up it up to a 9-volt battery and checked the splices where I broke the wire, and found that the wire I broke was indeed the dummy wire. I then dug up the areas I previously dug up just to check for any other wire breaks I may have missed, but there were nada. So somewhere, somehow the live wire got broken.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Quest For 500mA Fuses

After visiting a chiropractor for a much needed adjustment, I headed to Harbor Freight to pick up a fuse for the sprinkler control box. They didn't have it, but I picked up a surge protector that was on sale for $3 while I was there, and had a 20% off coupon so that made it even cheaper. And brought a coupon for a free super bright LED flashlight, so got another one of those. I then tried Auto Zone for the fuse, but the lowest they had was 1 amp, and I needed half an amp. I was finally able to locate them at Radio Shack in the mall, so since I was in the mall I checked the various stores for valances, but didn't find anything that really struck my fancy.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Leveled the Dryer, and Blew a Fuse

Today I adjusted the feet on the dryer so that it would be level with the washer, which was like a half inch higher. And I did this because I bought a gap cap that you put in between the two appliances so crap won't fall between the gap. I also put a couple blocks behind the dryer so it wouldn't keep getting pushed back every time we closed the door. Then I wanted to figure out how to change the light bulb, but had a super tough time figuring out how to access it. Finally I discovered that the entire top of the dryer can be opened to reveal the light bulb, though they really don't give you much finger room, and thus I broke the bulb trying to get it out.

I bought a multimeter from Harbor Freight went I went out this afternoon, which happened to be on sale for like $3, and I had a 20% off coupon, and a coupon for a free super bright LED flashlight. Tried to use the multimeter to find the source of my sprinkler control issue, but only wound up blowing the fuse in the control box. So tomorrow I have to go pick up a couple of those. Then I've gotta read up on how to use a multimeter, as I haven't used one since like high school.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sprinklers Half-Way Fixed!

Worked on the backyard sprinklers some more today. Picked up three replacement Hardie sprinkler valve diaphragms from Normac and that actually got the valves working manually. It cost me like $50, though! I could have bought three entirely new valves for like $25 (with coupon), but then I'd have to cut apart all the PVC lines and buy replacement PVC pieces and glue them all together, working in that small little area without much room to maneuver in... so yeah, an extra $25 was worth not spending all that time and effort.

So after getting them working using the manual release, I tried activating them electrically through the control box, but that didn't work. There are two wires running from the side of the house to the backyard control valves, but only one is actually connected to the valves, and I accidentally broke one in two different places while searching for the valves, but I didn't know if I had broke the live one or the dummy one. And since my test didn't work, I figured I had broke the live one, so I fixed it, then tried again, but it still didn't work. So tomorrow I'm gonna need to go get a multimeter and hopefully that will help me locate where the issue lies.

In an unrelated topic, for a little while now I've been having these seemingly random connection issues with my internet whereby I'd visit a site and the browser would return with some kind of error like "Internet Explorer cannot display the webpage" (IE8), "The connection was reset" (Firefox), or "Error 101 (net::ERR_CONNECTION_RESET): Unknown error" (Chrome). It's a common error that I've been able to find mentioned many places with many suggested fixes, but my issue was more rare in that it was not constant, and reloading the page one or more times would eventually get it to show up, though sometimes only partially, like it would load the content but not the stylesheet.

Well, I tried every suggested fix mentioned on every page I could find, and none of them worked. Then, several days ago I finally made the connection that it isn't random, it happens when my DVD drive is either ripping or burning a DVD. This should tell me something, but what, I do not know. I have tried searching the web for anyone else with the same problem, but can't find a single mention of it. I tried to update the firmware for my Optiarc AD-5170S DVD drive, but unfortunately I can't because mine is a Dell OEM one which cannot be upgraded with the official firmware, only Dell's firmware, and Dell does not provide a firmware update for this drive. Thank you Dell, for making life harder. Anyway, so I guess until I get a new DVD drive I just have to stay off the 'net while it's doing its thing.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Still No Valances

Looked for valances at Bed Bath & Beyond and a few other places while wife was at the gym, but still didn't find anything that looked right for where we want to put them. Of course the search is more difficult because I don't even really know what we want or what would look good there.

Sold my Point Blank 2 game for the original Playstation. It was the one that came in the box with the light gun... I miss those light gun games, especially Elemental Gearbolt. That was one of the downsides to getting a flat panel television. The Wii overcame the limitation of the flat panels, but we still don't own one of those yet. Not sure if there's any good light gun games out for it anyhow. I know I could easy check, but I don't want to find out there is and then be all disappointed because I still can't play them.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

More Fruit & Veggie Juice

Went grocery shopping this afternoon while my wife was at work. We usually do it together, but she hasn't been feeling so hot these past few days. While at the store I noticed Ocean Spray has some drinks similar to the V8 Fusion, where fruit and vegetable juices are mixed together into something that's drinkable. So I got the two different flavors they had, Cranberry Strawberry Banana and Tropical Citrus. The former wasn't bad, and haven't tried the latter yet.

Picked up and tossed a bunch of the old rotten wood along the side of the house, trying to get that area cleaned up a bit. Saw a descent sized lizard while doing so, and would have liked to have snapped a photo so I could look it up online later to see what kind it was, but the camera was all the way in the house and at the time I just wanted to finish so I could go inside and eat.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Oil Change & Clean Sprinkler Valves

Took my wife's vehicle in for an oil change this morning. They recommended a tire rotation, though they were unaware that we had four new tires put on back on January 18th. And if I remember correctly we get free tire rotations at America's Tire, whereas Toyota wanted to charge like $11 or something. Anyway, America's Tire should automatically send us a reminder e-mail when it's time, so I didn't worry about it.

Took apart and cleaned the three sprinkler control valves, then put them all back together and... no difference. I can turn the little black knob to manually get them going, but when I turn the knob off they just keep on going. I wasn't able to do a good flush of the pipes while I had valves disassembled because the ditch that they're in would just fill with water mixing up all the surrounding dirt. Maybe tomorrow I'll try putting plastic down, cut out a few holes for the valves to slip through, and try it again. Really running out of ideas here.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Raising the Headboard & Relocating the Internet Hub

Yesterday I got the giant headboard/dresser combo thing set up, and as we expected the piece that actually goes behind the bed wasn't quite tall enough due to us having basically two mattresses on top of a box spring on top of a metal frame. So today I grabbed a couple cinder blocks which I just happened to have for some reason (really not sure where they came from), and put it under the headboard... and it fit perfect! Sure would be nice if all fixes were that easy.

Later in the evening my wife went out to dinner and a movie with one of her friends. To my wife's disappointment, her friend wanted to see Alice in Wonderland. So while they were out, I used the time to relocated the modem and router into the hall closet. Doing so was not quite as simple as it sounds, as we have a signal enhancer on the line so by moving that I also had to go outside to the main junction box, find the cable that was now attached to, and swap it into the correct position in the splitter... in the dark. But now it's done so that big mess of wires is now hidden away from view.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Putting up the Headboard

Got a friend to help me bring the big pieces of the headboard inside the house this morning, then just as we were finishing that a guy came over to buy some old pool chemicals I listed on craigslist (because we used to have an above ground pool a while back but it was totaled in a massive storm). I was glad to get those out of the house and get a few bucks in the process. I have a bunch of other yardsale-worthy junk I need to get posted on craigslist, as I'm just too lazy to actually do a yardsale, not to mention I hate getting up early.

So, I got the headboard all put together, minus the mirror, because we may end up rising the portion that's directly behind the bed. Our bed is higher than normal because on top of our mattress we have a foam pad and then on top of that a couple of memory foam pads. Hopefully it will be as easy as slipping a couple cinder blocks underneath.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Mother of all Headboards

Turned on the main water line to the backyard again, and as expected zone 5 immediately came on. What was unexpected was that zone 6 did not. Yesterday it would not shut off, just like zone 5, but today I couldn't even get it to start. Definitely need to take apart and clean the valves, and flush the lines, but have to wait until my right hand is feeling better. Right now I have very little gripping strength with it. Manually screwing into studs really took more out of me than I ever expected... wait... that sounds weird... disregard that.

So we got ourselves a gigantic headboard that we found on Craigslist. It's huge, with like dressers on either side and a giant mirror that goes in the middle, with lighting and everything. The couple that listed it were very nice and helped take it apart and load it into the truck. Tomorrow I'll get a friend over to help set it all up, as my wife isn't supposed to do any heavy lifting due to her hip replacement.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Drill Baby Drill & Sprinkle Me This

My hand is still aching from manually screwing in the Garagemaid Easy Wall Slat Wall Kit, and that was like several days ago, so I decided it was finally time to break down and get a decent drill. But didn't want to spend a lot of money, because it probably won't get used very often. I mean, I've survived 10 years without one.

So this morning I picked up an Drill Master 18 volt cordless drill & flashlight set at Harbor Freight. They had it advertised on the website for the sale price $18.99 (normally $29.99), so I called our local store to see if they had the $19 drill and flash light set there, and they did, but what the guy neglected to tell me was that they didn't have it for $19, they had it for $24.99, and to get it for the website price I needed to bring in a printout of the page, even though it's from their own website.

Quick sidebar... is their website, is it not? Because that's what I went to, but I also see there is a another, different website at, and they have the same drill & flashlight set for $24.99... so what's going on? Do they really have two different websites? I thought Drill Master was the house brand of Harbor Freight, so that would also indicated they are the same company with two different websites. I don't know, it's weird.

Anyway, so I got that, but they wouldn't honor the 20% coupon I had because it was considered price matching or something like that. I also bought some drillbits, but didn't even think to tell her to then use the coupon for those, and she didn't just do it as a lot of clerks would. This realization came when I got home, and I know I could have gone back but really, getting 20% of $3.99 hardly seems worth it. Oh, and I did get the free super bright LED flashlight that I had a coupon for. I thought it'd be a piece of junk, but it's actually pretty descent, giving off a lot of light.

In the backyard, I turned on the main water line and my PVC repair seemed to hold. I then manually turned on one of the valves and the sprinklers came on, but then when I turned the knob back to the off position, the sprinklers just kept going. I then tried the next valve, and same thing happened, so had to shut off the main line again. I read online that I'll most likely need to take them apart and clean them, as it's probably some sort of little clog causing the problem. They are old, but seems unlikely that the valves would just happen to fail all at the same time.

My wife's replacement MP3 player, the Sansa Fuze, arrived today. Her other one was sent back to Sandisk because it wouldn't stop giving the white screen of death. Lets hope this one fares better.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Got Help From a Slip Fix, and Got Some Cheaply Expensive Headphones

Fixed the two PVC pipes that I broke yesterday... or I should say attempted to fix. I'll find out for sure tomorrow after they've had a full 24 hours to dry. I started with couplers and extra pipe, but soon realized there was no way for me to get those things into the line since there was little room to flex the pipes. After seeking advice on the matter, I was told about these telescoping coupler things called slip fix, so I got two of those. The first one went on perfectly, which was the main line, so happy about that. The second one was harder, as the two broken lines were right next to each other with not even half an inch between the two, and those slip fix things have a pretty wide girth. So that put the second one I did at a weird angle and I couldn't push the extending portion all the way into the coupler.

Got a nice pair of expensive wireless headphones off Craigslist for only $10. My wife had just mentioned the other day that she needed a new pair so we hit on that at just the right time.

My wife brought home some cupcakes

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Good News, and Bad News

The good news is I finally found the 3 sprinkler control valves for the backyard! They were completely buried in dirt, underneath plastic ground cover that was covered by rocks. The bad news is that I accidentally cracked two of the PVC pipes when I was digging, so now I have to repair those before I can test out the control valves and figure out why the backyard sprinklers won't turn on. And one of the pipes is the main line so I have to do a damn good repair job!

Got a package in the mail which turned out to be a couple birthday presents from my parents. They were a Black & Decker PHV1800CB 18-Volt Pivoting-Nose Cordless Energy-Star Handheld Vacuum Cleaner and Celtica. Haven't tried either one out yet, but looking forward to it.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Happy Birthday To Me

Hey, it's my birthday! Sure had fun too, starting out with returning something to Lowe's, then on to getting an oil change, followed that up with a trip to the post office, then a quick stop at Walmart to return something, and when I got home... I went out and dug more holes in my backyard! It was overcast and drizzling occasionally, but that just made it more fun. Good times, good times.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

New Shelves

Put up this Garagemaid Easy Wall Slat Wall Kit today. Well, mostly. Two screws wouldn't go in all the way, so need to borrow a drill for those.

My friend borrowed a metal detector to help find a ring, but stopped by here first to see if it could help find those sprinkler control valves. Unfortunately, the thing was more like a toy than a true metal detector, as it could barely pick up the 3 known valves after removing the plastic cover and putting the detector right on top of them. So it looks like it's back to digging tomorrow. Oh, and in a fit of desperation I emailed our realtor hoping she might be able to contact the previous owners and find out the information from them. Probably won't work, but couldn't hurt to ask.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Hell Holes & Yard Sale

Visited my friend the chiropractor this morning and he put me all back into place. Then my wife and I went to a yard sale and a few thrift store type places looking for some super cheap furniture that might look good in our place, as well as a few other odds and ends, but didn't find anything of use. It was a nice change of pace from just staying at home though. And definitely better than what I continued doing when we got back to the house....

For the past couple days I've been digging holes in my backyard, trying to follow the PVC pipe to the 3 sprinkler control valves, but so far no luck. I try to pick spots that aren't covered by grass, but looks like to continue I'm not going to have to have much choice in the matter. And seems like no matter where I dig, there are always rocks hidden just beneath the surface, which makes digging extremely difficult. A friend lent me hi pick and hoe which definitely helps, but still, my hands are sore, I've got blisters, my face is broken out, and I'm covered with bug bits, so yeah, I'm pretty sick of this and am still no closer to finding those damn valves.

On a plus side, my friend had a yard sale today and sold a whole box full of DVDs (close to 100 of them) that I wanted to get rid of. So I made $139 and got rid of a box of DVDs that was doing nothing more but taking up shelf space.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Iron Man 2

Just back from the midnight showing of Iron Man 2, and while I enjoyed the show, it definitely wasn't as good as the first film. Had a nice little adrenaline sequence for the finale, but other than that it was severely lacking on action. If you do see it, make sure you stay for after the credits.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sprinkler Fail

After putting one more coat of paint on the door, I took my old DirecTV dish and removed the actual dish from the arm, intending to use the dish to block sprinker spashback from hitting the gazebo. However, I soon discovered that none of the sprinklers in the back yard would turn on. So I tried the front yard, and they worked, but noticed that one was not popping up because it had become overgrown with grass roots, and another had significant bubbling coming from its base. Clipping free the overgrown one was simple enough, but digging out an area around the other proved to be quite difficult with a bunch of roots in the way, including a couple big tree ones. After hacking away with the back of a hammer for a bit, I eventually got out the chainsaw to take care of the thick ones. That sprinkler was located just outside the grass, in a rocky area, which also made it difficult to dig up but at least I didn't have to destroy the lawn doing it. A quick trip to the hardware store for a little plastic replacement piece was all I needed to get it back in shape. But still haven't figured out why the backyard sprinklers seem dead.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Painted Door

Put one more coat of primer on our side door to the garage, then when that dried I started slapping the color on there. I've been using one of those foam brushes, which isn't bad but one day I'd like to get a good, high-quality brush. I don't do a whole lot of painting, so that's gonna have to wait. I'll probably put one more coat of pain on tomorrow, then I think that's going to be the end of my foam brush.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Full days

Today was my wife's first full day at work since her hip surgery back in December, and she still went to the gym afterward so as you can imagine she was pretty tired by the time she got home. I got started on priming the side door to the garage, getting it ready for painting, and had a few other errands to run. So I was kinda tired as well. And then we had to borrow a friend's truck head out again to go pick up a mattress and boxspring, as we were tired of sleeping on slabs of foam and figured it was time to get a real mattress.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Party Time, Excellent!

We visited one of my wife's friends today, as she invited us over to her daughter's birthday party. We stopped at Little Caesar's beforehand, but that proved to be unnecessary as they had plenty of pizza all ready. Didn't see much of the kids as they were mostly playing outside while we stayed inside and talked. Their computer was sounding quite loud, so I took it out back and used compressed air to blow out all the dust. Been quite a while since I've done that to a computer, but at least I remember to do it outside!