I haven’t posted for a while. I’ve been kind of collecting stuff up so I could make a post that covered a bunch of stuff. So…here we go.
Let’s see. Well first, a couple of weeks ago I was knocking down the jungle that our back yard had become. Before I get to that though, I guess I should start at the beginning. See, I had this idea that I could burn a bunch of the dead tangle vines and such in our fire pit. Not a bad idea really in theory, burning off your dead yard waste. In practice however, it was a whole different story.
Picture this if you will. I gather up a whole bunch of these dead vines, and I stick them in the pit. Then I put a little lighter fluid on them just to really get ‘em going. Now here’s where things kinda took a left turn, though not like you might have suspected. It didn’t go poof and I didn’t burn off my eyebrows, though in hindsight I probably deserved it. What actually happened was, it burned. That was the point wasn’t it? Well unfortunately, it also did something else. It smoked.
Now you’re probably thinking, “Well duh, what’d you expect it to do when you lit it on fire?”
Well, you’re right. I did expect it to smoke. What I didn’t expect however was the billowing tower of yellow smoke that flew furiously out of the pit like the gates of hell had opened up! I mean, we’re talking about dead, brown little thin tangle vines here. Who the hell would possibly think they could smoke like that? It was ridiculous the amount of smoke that was coming out of them. Within seconds, my backyard looked like a war zone as a flood of billowing smoke filled my yard and then floated on over to the houses in the lot next to us.
Now the last thing I wanted was for some douchebag to report it as a fire or something, so I ran in the house and grabbed a spray bottle full of water, which I then used to douse the flames and reduce the amounts of smoke as much as I possibly could. Finally I managed to get it under control, and as I stood there watching the flames die down and the smoke begin to clear, the only thing I could think was that I had never in my life had a white trash moment like that one.
Anyway, after that I took a shovel and started knocking down some of the taller weeds with stalks. Why a shovel and not a weed eater? Well, the level of overgrowth in our back yard was massive. I really need to get a weed eater with a blade attachment, because our weeds just laugh at those little plastic strings. Since I didn’t have one, and I really wanted to get started on the back yard, I just used a shovel.
After I had knocked down some weeds, I finally said screw this and went to get the lawn mower. I plugged it in (it’s an electric mower) raised the level on it so it wouldn’t choke so bad on the weeds, and went to work. Eventually, I had cleared maybe 90% of the back yard, but I also did something else, which I didn’t even realize at the time. I messed up my left knee somehow. I guess I was so pumped on adrenaline from what I was doing that I didn’t feel it at the time, but that night when I had showered and started to relax, my knee started hurting really bad. I don’t know if I twisted it or tore something or what, but the side of my knee on the outside swelled up and got really painful. So basically, I spent the next two weeks gimping around like an old man. Today is the first day it’s felt 100% healed, so at least I got that goin’ for me.
Anyway, to continue my handy hubby streak, I decided that after a year and a half or more of living with no overhead lights in the kitchen, it was finally time to do something about it. See, the florescent lighting fixtures had gone bad. First one, then a while later, the other finally gave out. They needed to be changed, but it didn’t seem I ever had the time or the ambition to get around to it. Well I finally decided it was time to just do it…so I did.
First I went and bought the new fixtures. That was simple enough since Home Depot had exactly what I needed. So I come home and get the new ones ready to put up, and then I start to take down the first of the old ones. Now before I get into this, I should mention that I’ve never actually done this before. I had a pretty good idea of what I was facing though, and it was about how I thought it’d be, except for one thing. The anchors.
See, when I unscrewed the first fixture, it turns out it was anchored in the ceiling. There was nothing on the other side of the sheetrock. No studs, no plywood…nothing. So I pulled the screws out and took down the fixture and looked up there, only to find a loose anchor floating above the hole. Now this is when I had my brain dead moment, because for some reason I had totally forgotten about the anchors I used to play with as a kid. My father did a lot of construction, and I was with him when he built two houses, which was sheer torture for me because I was a kid and I’d have rather had been playing than hanging out around that kind of stuff. Still, over the years, even though I wasn’t actively trying to, I actually learned quite a bit. Unfortunately though, I had forgotten about these folding anchors that you mount on a bolt and then push through the hole so it can pop open on the other side. I had to call my father and ask him what the hell to do, which was embarrassing, because I should have known.
Anyway, after he reminded me about the anchors, I went back over to Home Depot. I grabbed some of the right sized anchors and I also got myself a pack of titanium drill bits and a raspy file I could use to expand the hole in the sheetrock a bit if I needed to.
Once we got back home, the first fixture went in relatively easily. I had to drill a new hole in the sheetrock on each side because the holes in the new fixtures didn’t line up with the old ones, but other than that, almost everything went fine. Notice I said almost…
Like a moron, I forgot to put the second end cap on the fixture, and there’s like maybe 1/4″ to 1/2″ of clearance on each end of the fixture in the recessed area they’re in, so I had to actually unscrew most of the back end and completely unscrew the end that needed the end cap, thereby losing one of the new anchors I had just bought. Fortunately, I bought six of them, so this wasn’t that big of a deal.
So now that it’s mounted, I go to pop the light tubes in. Something was blocking one of them, so I looked and there were these black caps in each of the fitting holes, and one of them was covering the spot where the prongs were supposed to go up. Like an idiot, because it was out of place and blocking the hole, I assumed it was just some sort of a protective thing for shipping or something and pulled them all out. It wasn’t until I put up the second fixture that I realized they’re supposed to actually be in there. It just needed to be turned so that it was in the right position. Fortunately, I didn’t mess anything up when I pulled them out, so I was able to put them back in. Still, it was another “man I feel stupid” moment.
Obviously, the other side went up much more smoothly since we had learned exactly what needed to be done from doing the first side, but man, going up and down on those chairs only served to aggravate my knee injury and probably added days to my recovery time. I’ve lost a lot of sleep in the past couple of weeks because of it. I couldn’t lay down at all without the pain just radiating up and down my leg, which made it pretty much impossible to fall asleep until I had reached that wall of total exhaustion.
So I get all that done, and then the air conditioner stops working! Great, we’re broke and now we gotta spend a couple hundred bucks or more to have the air conditioning fixed! Before I called someone though, I decided, since I’ve been on this handy hubby kick lately, to see if I could fix it myself. Turns out, the most likely cause is that the capacitor went bad in it. So I opened it up and took a picture of the label on the capacitor, then I came back in and did a search for a replacement, found one for forty bucks and ordered it. I’m going to fix it myself and save about $150 bucks! And now for the punchline…
The capacitor is made by GE. It seems like GE can’t make good products that last anymore. They used to be a good company, but now they just make crap. In the recent past, we’ve had two GE microwaves and a GE dishwasher die on us. All were within five to six years old, if that. Hell, one of the microwaves couldn’t have been more than two or three years old. I have a feeling there was some other stuff from them that died on us too, but I can’t think of what it was now. Anyway, we avoid GE products now like the plague, but I needed this part, so whatcha gonna do?
Speaking of failed parts…
A while back the video card in Sharon’s computer failed, after years of faithful service. So I ordered myself a new EVGA Geforce 6200 (yes, the computers are older, but still good) took the card out of mine, which was a much better card than the one she had, and put it in hers, and then installed the new 6200 in mine. My old card was a Geforce 5900 XT. I was expecting some kind of a performance boost, but literally got almost none at all. Not only that, that card isn’t overclockable at all, and it generally just a piece of crap. It’s got a passive heat sink and doesn’t even use external power. It draws it all from the AGP port. Anyway, I’ve been really disappointed with it, so I went on E-bay yesterday and found a BFG Geforce 6800 OC (overclocked), brand new but being sold as used because it was out of the box, for $20.49 including shipping. SCORE! It was great timing too because the auction only had four minutes left when I found it. So I’m going to replace that crappy card I got with this one and keep the crappy one as a spare for the server or something.
Anyway, I had more to post, but I’m hungry and Sharon wants to have breakfast, so I’ll save it for next time…(Current Mood: hungry)