The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

December 31, 2007

Just in Case You Were Wondering…

Filed under: Site Stuff — Brian Lutz @ 10:36 pm

I finally went ahead and put up a proper About Page for this Blog.  I’m also doing a bit more tinkering with stuff in the sidebar, and at some point I’m going to actually try to create a template of my own, since I haven’t really found one to my liking out of the default WordPress ones.  The one I am using right now is there mostly because it doesn’t mess with the graphics in my posts too much, and there’s definitely room for improvement.  Stay tuned…

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Operating With Ruthless (In)efficiency

Filed under: Random Stuff — Tags: , , — Brian Lutz @ 8:20 pm

OK, so the good news is that yesterday’s little water heater misadventure was resolved quickly.  On the other hand, something seems just a bit odd with this?

It’s always reassuring to know that the stuff you’ve got is better than the best (or is that the other way around?)  And while we’re on the subject, what exactly is this graphic on the front page of the manufacturer’s webpage supposed to mean anyway?  All I know is that if that picture is any indication of how the product is going to perform, I sure hope my upstairs neighbors don’t have one of the things…

Out With the Old…

Filed under: Culture — Tags: — Brian Lutz @ 5:05 pm

By the time you read this, you will have less than 8 hours of 2007 remaining (unless you happen to be reading it from some island out in the middle of the Pacific, in which case you’re just complicating things.) If there was anything that you swore you would do this year but haven’t gotten around to yet, now would probably be a good time to start panicking. In spite of what some of the stuff in your inbox might claim, about the only way you’re going to be guaranteed to lose fifty pounds that quickly is to go log onto a UK-based Internet gambling site. There’s always next year though, right?

As the year comes to an end, it seems that there’s always one thing or another left to do before making the big jump into the next year. In some cases, it might be getting an early start on whatever resolution you are making for next year. It might also be some task that you probably could have gotten done easily back in September, but have put off until it becomes a crisis. It could also just be something that you always do to close out the year. Dealing with your taxes is one such task, although that generally doesn’t come until a bit later on. In my case, one of the standard end-of-the-year tasks involves counting out the pocket change that I’ve accumulated over the course of the year. I keep all of it in a plastic container left over from my brief and disastrous foray into Beanie Baby collecting many years ago (it’s a long story, and I’m not telling it to anyone but my Shrink,) and count it out at the end of the year. You’d actually be surprised just how much of the stuff you can manage to accumulate (although some people are a bit more successful at this than others.)

What exactly you can do with the change once you’ve got it is a bit of an issue. Banks tend to put restrictions on how much of it they will accept at a time, and the coin counting machines that have become a common feature in supermarkets add an 8-cent per dollar fee on top. Generally I will roll up the quarters (which are usually a majority of the contents) and deposit those in the bank, and put the rest into the coin counter, which can turn it into an Amazon.com gift certificate without adding the counting fee to it. For a number of years I have done this by hand, but last year I got one of those fancy counting machines you see pop up in the stores as a “great gift idea” (yeah, right) around this time of year, and found that I just ended up counting the things by hand anyway just to make sure the machine wasn’t messing me up. It’s a bit of a time-consuming task, but a subtle, nagging sense of avarice helps greatly in ensuring that the task gets completed in a timely fashion.

Elsewhere, the end of the year provides a convenient opportunity for journalists everywhere to break out the time-honored slow news day gimmick of the Year in Review column. This allows them to take the stories they ran into the ground months ago and dig them back up for just long enough to run them right back into the ground again. If that doesn’t provide enough material, there’s always the option of “presenting” a number of completely meaningless and arbitrary “awards” as well. If you’re really hard up for material, you might even be able to finagle another entire column out of that gimmick.  I’ll go ahead and get things started with the award for Most Politically Correct Toy of the Year

Things You Never Notice Until They Fail Catastrophically

Filed under: Random Stuff — Tags: , , — Brian Lutz @ 2:51 am

Currently, I live in a somewhat older apartment, at least compared to most of the ones found in Redmond. It’s not exactly the most luxurious place you’re going to find in this area, but it’s clean (at least it is whenever I get around to cleaning it up,) the neighborhood is decent, and it takes me less than ten minutes to get to or from work. To get to work from here, I literally just turn left out of the apartment complex, drive straight down the road for about 2 1/2 miles, turn left again, and I’m there. On the other hand, being a somewhat older apartment also means that you can’t always count on the appliances being the most up-to-date models.

In particular, the washer and dryer seem more than a little out of date. As you can see from the photo above, the model name on the washer and matching dryer is shown as “Design 2000,” which by itself generally indicates that you can automatically knock about 15-20 years or so off of that to get back to an era when such a designation would have still sounded impressive. Combine that with a “high-tech” computery-looking font and gratuitous faux wood trim, and you’ve got a machine that at the very least is probably old enough to vote, and wouldn’t have looked too out of place going all the way back to the Seventies (although the machine itself is beige, so maybe it doesn’t go that far back.) If my research is correct then the apartment I am in was built sometime in the mid to late Eighties, so the washer and dryer can’t be much older than that. The stove in the kitchen is of a similar design aesthetic, although the lack of faux wood trim keeps that one from looking too dated. Just be sure that when you bake something in the oven, you set the temperature on the knob on to 25 degrees less than the recipe calls for, or you’re going to find yourself eating an awful lot of charcoal. So with all these ancient appliances in the place, which do you think you would pick to be the one to fail and make a big mess of the place?

Why, the 2 1/2 year old hot water heater, of course. At 10pm on a Sunday night, no less. Earlier this evening as I entered my den/office (actually it’s the second bedroom, but since I’m the only one living here it’s my office,) I found a spot of the carpet to be abnormally soggy. Further investigation revealed the sogginess to not only extend throughout the carpet in that half of the room, but through the wall into the laundry room as well.

If you’re a homeowner, this is usually the time to start scrambling to find the manual for the hot water heater, realize that you probably tossed out the manual ages ago, scramble to find the manual on the Internet and read the troubleshooting section which doesn’t tell you anything but to turn off that big red knob on top, call a 24-hour plumber and give them a bunch of money. On the other hand, since I’m renting here, I was able to make an emergency call to the maintenance staff, who responded quickly, and somehow managed to get a carpet cleaner here at 11:30pm on a Sunday to extract the water and clean up the affected carpeting.

Even though I will probably have to deal with not having hot water for a couple of days until a replacement can be found (Edit:  Never mind, they managed to get a new hot water heater installed in the morning,) this could definitely have turned out much worse. At least it happened when I was home, and thanks to the quick response of the maintenance tech and the carpet cleaners, what could have turned into a disaster got reduced to a mere nuisance. For anyone who ever finds themselves looking for an apartment in the Seattle area, I would gladly recommend a community managed by BRE properties. They have provided excellent service in the time that I’ve lived here, and maintain the place very well.

It would have been kind of nice if I could have figured out a way to finagle a new washer and dryer out of the deal though…

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