The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

April 26, 2008

BeagleFest 2008: Wait, Didn’t I Live Here at Some Point?

Filed under: Dogs — Tags: , — Brian Lutz @ 9:37 am

It is now day 3 of BeagleFest 2008, and so far, everything seems to be going well.  The dogs managed to get themselves a bit wound up before last night’s trip to the dog park, but seemed to be just fine while we were there.  The weather has gradually improved over the past few days, so last night the dog park was rather busy.  Fortunately, Imola and Minardi seem to be pretty good about keeping track of where I am and usually remain reasonably close.  Imola tends to wander a bit more than Minardi does, but if Imola comes across something that catches her attention Minardi will follow her pretty quickly.

As for myself, part of the deal was that I am staying at my parents’ house while they are gone to take care of the dogs.  Even though I lived here for ten years while I was growing up, a lot has changed around here since then.  For one thing, me and my parents are the only ones in the family who live in Redmond anymore (I’ve got a brother and sister and brother-in-law who live down in Provo Utah, and my other brother and sister-in-law live in the small town of Sultan in Snohomish County, as do my other sister, brother-in-law, their two boys and two beagles of their own.)  This, combined with the fact that I remain single for the time being meant that I was the only one who was really in a position to take care of the dogs.  The house itself has seen an extensive remodel in the past year, and although it is still easily recognizable as the house I grew up in, a lot has changed as a result of that remodel.  This includes a number of shiny new appliances with all sorts of bells and whistles, although I’m led to wonder if that’s always a good thing.  In the apartment where I normally make my home, the stove is a fairly basic model, and is rapidly approaching an age where it would be old enough to vote if the 28th amendment to the Constitution happened to grant suffrage to household appliances.  This means that you’ve got a total of six knobs (one for each burner and two for the oven.)  The recently purchased new stove at my parents’ house, on the other hand, has a control panel that looks like this:

So far, I haven’t even bothered to try to figure out what half of those buttons are supposed to do.  So far, I think I’ve figured out the “incinerate” and the “show seizure inducing flashy patterns on the display” buttons, but I haven’t ventured too far beyond those basic functions yet.  In what may be one of the greatest feats of dubious engineering in the 21st century, somehow they’ve even managed to complicate the temperature knobs for the burners on this one, providing two different low/high scales for the front burners.  It’s not just the stove either;  The toaster’s encrusted with more than its fair share of buttons (I’m trying to figure out exactly when people decided that toasters needed “cancel” buttons to pop the toast back up instead of just lifting the slider back up, but that’s another story,) and i haven’t even tried to operate the dishwasher yet.  I’m dreading the inevitable day when refrigerators start coming with “open” buttons instead of handles to open the doors…

Fortunately, I think there’s enough cold cereal here that I could probably survive off of if I can’t figure out how to cook anything else without setting it on fire, and if worse comes to worse, I’m only about a mile from my apartment anyway, so I’ll probably not starve.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go see if I can find the manual to explain how to get the front door open again… 


December 31, 2007

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…

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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