2 Years of Silence….

Oops… I see it has been over 2 years since our last post… mostly because our fee time has been absorbed by this little lady:

Nadine Newbo

(Photo from Just a Hobby Photography)

Who is actually now this little lady:

July4SereneLakes

The good news is that we were officially finished with her nursery before she was born.  I’ll try to write about it before it becomes a “big girl room.”

More to come…

New Theme

I didn’t really like how the previous theme cutoff the content and I thought we needed a better header image.

More to come!!!

 

-Andy

Internet Woes with a Marinwood Eichler

So, we bought our home last april (2011) and promptly had Comcast come out and hook us up with their adjective filled super incredible amazing speedy boost 20 Mb internet.  This worked “ok” for a few months but I noticed (almost immediately) that the internet would slow down or become almost totally inaccessible.  We also have an ATT microcell that decided to stop working after about a month.

Well, I should say, “we thought the microcell stopped working after a month”.  My theory (because Comcast will never confirm nor deny ANYTHING) is that Comcast changed something in our neighborhood around May of 2011 or changed how their signal is transmitted to our house.

 

Anyway, not having the microcell (device that provides cellular service for ATT) and not having internet AT ALL on a daily basis was/is extremely annoying.  So, this is what we did:

Step 1). I thought “I know, it’s probably that old DSL modem and wireless Linksys box we have.  I’ll replace these and that should make everything work swell”. WRONG, We just spent $150 on new equipment that never worked any differently.  (Side Note: The equipment was destroyed from our leaky roof!!  What are the odds that a single roof would leak directly above our wireless router?  Apparently about 100%)

Step 2). I thought “Maybe the internet is fine and it’s my wife’s microcell device.  I’ll just get a new microcell device and everything will work all hunky dory”.  WRONG, after 2 months of haggling to get a microcell device through an “Enterprise ATT Representative” (or something like that) the internet is still flaky and the microcell doesn’t work.

Step 3).  I know, “I’ll just get a piece of equipment directly from Comcast thereby insuring it is not our equipment or a third parties equipment causing the issues”. WRONG, still flaky internet that slows to sloth-like pace every evening and just dies sporadically.

Step 4).  I know,”I’m canning Comcast and going to DSL”.  Although the internet will be considerably slower I really don’t care as long as it WORKS RELIABLY.

On the same topic there’s something to be said about worker efficiency and how large companies have really lost the view of the trees (customers) for the forest (corporate profits).  What I mean by this statement is that the wasted time of both the customer and the service provider REALLY ADD UP but cannot be easily quantified. The customer (both my wife and I) have spent at least 12 hours on this problem with no solution.  The company (Comcast) has also thrown about a half dozen hours at the problem with “automated automatrons” (these are the people that make minimum wage, and through no fault of their own, have zero critical thinking tasks (and are forced NOT to make any problem solving decisions).  I guess my complaint is that complicated problems are becoming more and more difficult to solve but COULD be solved AND save $$$ if someone escalated these issues to someone making more than $8/hour.

Anyway, we are both happy with our network access now.  Comcast cannot be trusted!!

The Quirks

This lovely home that we own is full of quirks.  Some of them cross the line to “what were they thinking” (like hard-wiring the atrium light with speaker wire) but there are some more fun less safety-hazard quirks too…

The School-House Fire Alarm:

This is one of my favorite features of our house- totally authentic and great for parties!  For everyone who will ever be tempted to pull it when they visit, I’m not going to divulge whether it’s hooked up or not… but I will leave this hint: we WILL know when you pull it!

In the same vein, this guy:

Funny thing is, it’s on a hallway wall!  Does it imply that if we got a sledge hammer and ripped down the wall (which will happen some day) we’d find a fire extinguisher inside?

Did I mention that our house is 100% handicapped accessible… literally?  Like, it’s literally been retro-fitted for the handicapped?  We have ramps, two zero-clearance showers (no tubs), and hand-rails everywhere. Luckily we don’t really need them as hand-rails yet, but they do make nice towel bars:

I will admit I do use these hand-rails when trying to balance on one leg in our 2’x2′ shower trying to shave my other leg (and I have also hit my head on it a couple times too):

Last (well not really last, there are tons more but that’s all for another day) but not least is another favorite, which resides in close proximity to my ultimate favorite quirk:

What is it?  An indoor door-bell?  Nope!  It’s a Buzzer!  So, if someone is at the front door and I walk to the kitchen, look across the atrium and through the window to see who it is, deem them allowed to enter our house but don’t want to walk the extra 20 feet to the front door to let them in, I push the buzzer and buzz them in.  Yup- just like grandma’s apartment building (except we’re not 85, not on the 6th floor, and don’t live in an apartment building).

Statues, Statues Everywhere!!!

As of today we have two statues.  Our Beer Monk who encourages me to brew and looks over the atrium  (he stands about 18 inches high) and our garden gnome who encourages us to travel.  He stands about 8 inches tall and is a close relative of that gnome from travelocity

So, in my opinion, statues ARE NOT REALLY a very appealing Eichler “enhancement”.  But, to each is own (design is a personal thing).and I guess we just choose not to have 9 foot concrete fountains and 6 foot tall concrete ladies painted in sexy white latex paint surrounding our house.  I know, weird.

To date I’ve sold TWO fountains weighing in at about 1000 pounds each.  Two lions that easily weighed 250 pounds each.  A 300 pound lady, a 100 pound bench, a mini fountain (100 pounds, not pictured, from our atrium) and some odds and ends (about another 100 pounds).

Without any exaggeration that’s 2,900 pounds of STATUARY!!!  Is that a word?  Oh well, here the are!

Backyard fountain (on the first week we moved in, April):

The “Cherube” fountain out front:

Sexy Latex Lady!!

Grrrr, 250 pound lion:

Odds and Ends:

Replacing the Eichler Electrical Panel

Here’s what a typical 100 Amp Zinsco panel looks like:

Our Zinsco electrical panel that was on our Eichler REALLY needed replacing.  There were actual black char marks around the panel (which is evidence of arcing) and there was a significant leak directly above the panel. Most electricians will say that a 1953 Zinsco panel is faulty by design (link here). In my opinion I think there are two main problems:

1).  The breakers are VERY old and old breakers tend to get stuck or locked in place (a locked breaker that does not trip can arc or cause a fire from excess heat).

2).  The design has aluminum bars (where the breakers attach) that can oxidize over time.

Also, I do not think the box was water tight but I can’t be sure.

So, here’s what our electrician did:

1). First, he pulled a permit from the county (we do not live within city limits so we only needed one  permit).

2). Next, he ordered the panel, grounding rods, and heavy gauge copper grounding wire. (the grounding rods are large 6 ft. copper rods).

3). With the permit displayed he setup a time for PG&E to shut off the power. Their availability wasn’t too great so we had to wait an extra 2 weeks.

4). With the power off he re-framed a small portion of the house where the old panel was.  Oh, did I mention that a corner of the house was rotted from a leaky roof?  Anyway, the new framing made the new box fit correctly.

5).  He also “bonded” the gas line to the water line to the grounding rods.  This guarantees that all the piping is grounded in the home. As an extra safety measure he put in two grounding rods (now a code requirement).

6). After sitting in the dark until almost 1am PG&E came out and turned the power on (bad PG&E!!)

-Andy

For reference, the panel is a “Square D” 200 Amp Outside Surface Mount Panel.

The Beginning…

 

(Photo taken April, 2011)

So, we’re all moved in!!  Well, at least our stuff is all moved in.  My wife and I are moved into our Eichler and have just eclipsed 2 months. There are quiet a few “issues” in the home but nothing we can’t fix.  I wanted to post an initial blog and then focus on the “issues” one by one.

In the last 2 months we have accomplished A LOT of work.  We’ve removed about 3,000 pounds of statues, removed a 30 ft tree and 2 palm trees and moved a couple tons of dirt (literally).  Probably the biggest (and most expensive) change is replacing the electrical panel. We now have a 200 amp service!!

Here’s to the Eichler Blog!!

-Andy