Archive for the 'Homeowners' Category


Posted by Nate in Homeowners, Neighborhood.
Tuesday, August 28th, 2007 at 9:37 pm

So…  yeah.  Lots of wedding stuff happening, most good, and some downers – like me finding tonight that one of the beers I was planning to serve is infected and tastes gross.  Damn.  It was one of the organic ones, too, but I think my accelerated schedule made me get a little sloppy with sanitation?  Not sure.  The good news:  the remaining 5 taste amazing!  (Or they will, once the last one finishes fermenting…)

pict0001a.JPGLast week we were part of a pilot program in our neighborhood – murals!  They’re planning to do 8, I think, on some pretty visible surfaces that often get tagged with graffiti.  Murals have proved an effective deterrent for gang graffiti in the past, and I have high hopes for this project.  Our garage was the first one they did – we’re not too highly visible, but I think this was seen as a warmup for the project, so just as well.

pict0003a.JPGAnd it’s awesome!  Designed mostly by the kids in the picture, it incorporated a few sunflowers – ours are in bloom now – a dog, a unicycle (Justin!), and several squirrels.  Fun!  We now have the coolest garage on the block – if only someone would fix our rotting and falling trim…

pict0026.JPGBonus:  Bachelorette party boozin’.


Posted by Nate in Consumers, Homeowners, Recycling.
Sunday, November 19th, 2006 at 6:54 pm

Almost as soon as we’d moved into our house last year I noticed a huge increase in junk mail.  A lot of it was related to being new homeowners (Equity Loans!  House Insurance!  Mortgage Insurance!), but even more was just generic coupons and ads and credit offers.

I picked up some forms almost a year ago intending to send them off ASAP and stop the junk mail, but as things happen I only just sent them last week.  The big one is the Mail Preference Service, with information here.  Also at that link is info on 18885OPTOUT which gets you out of credit card offers.  (MPS charges you if you do it through their site, but you can just send it in by hand and it’s free)  Lastly I sent in the info for ADVO, another agency that I think we’re getting a ton of stuff from.

Sure, we recycle all our junk mail, but how cool would it be to just not get it in the first place?  Those requests take a while to process, but fingers crossed that they’ll cut down on the junk.  I’ll post an update in a few months (if I remember).

On the homefront

Posted by Nate in Homeowners, Neighborhood.
Thursday, February 9th, 2006 at 9:36 pm

Shortly after moving to the Duoteam HQ, I signed up for emails of crime stats for the neighborhood and various police alerts as they were issued. Minneapolis has what seems to be a good system, where each precinct is divided into sectors, and each sector has a (civilian) Crime Prevention Specialist paired with a (cop) lieutenant. This CPS sends out the monthly stats, and in my initial signup email I asked what else I might look into in the neighborhood. Apart from having a very active neighborhood organization to check into, she recommended that I look at starting a block club.

I attended a block leader training at the end of January, and it was pretty informative. If nothing else, it drove home the point that we really need to meet more than just our immediate neighbors. I think an organized block, even if they meet just twice a year, is a much friendlier place to live. As a renter until recently, it never really occurred to me to make the effort to meet neighbors when it always felt like a non-permanent home — now that I’m able to look ahead several years in the same place, it matters. I think it will get easier in the Spring and Summer, in fact I’m counting on it: I hope to do more research, maybe knock on a few doors to gauge interest, and then come April or so try to start up a block club. Informal, low key, but something.

So tonight Karen and I attended a community meeting on the (gang) graffiti epidemic sweeping the precinct. Not a super productive meeting – I don’t feel like some of the police representatives were the best communicators, and some of the residents (one vocal guy) were hostile towards what they perceive as inaction. But it raised some good points, and gave me some stuff to think about. When our garage got hit, I did a bunch of research and was close to starting to build something (nerd!) based on this idea: a transportable or fixed unit that can listen for the unique ultrasonic sound signature of a spray can and automatically call the cops. How smart is that, really. So. Smart. The lady in charge of building cases against graffiti suspects was all about this camera rig, but said she was open to suggestions. She’ll be getting a call from this homeowner, tell you what. There’s only so far that painting over it will get you, eventually you’ve got start catching the dudes in the act.

So, that’s the word on the homefront. I feel pretty safe in our neighborhood still, I’ve installed a bunch more motion-detecting lights, and we keep all our doors locked. Bruno’s been getting some test runs out of his kennel alone, and he’s made it 4 hours or so without incident. Hopefully soon he can be free in the house all day and that’s just one more deterrent… Big dogs are nice like that. :)

Asbestos free!

Posted by Nate in Home Improvements, Homeowners.
Monday, November 14th, 2005 at 10:22 am

So thursday at work I was reading up on plaster and recessed lighting installation, and came across a few posts about asbestos in plaster. Wha..? Further reading got me worried, apparently it was quite common to have asbestos in certain plaster mixes, and who knows what that insulation actually is? I mean, to me it looks like rock wool and shredded wood chips / shavings, but what the hell do I know? So I took in some samples on Friday, not cheap but worth it for peace of mind.

… which arrived today. 100% asbestos free! (at least in that part of the house, but that’s the only part I’ve been cutting up.) Kind of a relief – I did buy a super nice respirator with active filters which made a huge difference for the weekend work, and put a plastic sheet up to isolate the kitchen, but there was still dust in the air, and the heat was blowing stuff around, etc… Good news.

At least we had a ladder…

Posted by Nate in Day to Day, Homeowners.
Monday, October 10th, 2005 at 3:26 pm

This is a late post, but since I took pains to try to document it while it was happening it’s worth putting up.

Last Tuesday, the 4th, dawned cool and foggy. Patchy rain throughout the day, then it seemed to let let up. I came home from work and was walking Bruno – about 6:30 – when it started to rain again. We hustled home, a bit wet, and got inside as it continued to rain. Earlier that day I had picked up our Fruit Share, apples and pears, and I decided to make an apple pie while Karen was at work. The rain kept falling, now joined by some huge peals of thunder. Bruno was a little nervous but much better than I expected, mostly just wanted to be right near me. I pulled his day bed near the kitchen and he seemed fine, getting up often to check everything out.

The pie made it into the oven and was almost ready to come out when I noticed there was quite a bit of rain coming in through the kitchen window–it was filling up the window well between the storm and the interior glass! I assumed somehow the window was open on the outside and began fiddling with it, but it seemed tight and every time I touched it it was letting in more and more water. The window well was about to overflow so I ran downstairs and grabbed a bucket and some siphon tubing from my homebrewing equipment. The water continued to pour in but was kept mostly off the counter by the siphon – but the bucket was filling up fast! I emptied two buckets, probably 2 gallons each time, before I realized I was going to lose this battle with the rain. I had to gain some time to get outside to assess the situation, so I ran back downstairs to grab a bigger tub (pictured).

While I was down there I noticed water entering the basement from the wall under the window. I know flooded basements happen, but man did my heart sink when I saw that trickle of water coming in… I mean, come on!! We haven’t even been here two months! I know some water is eventually going to get in there, but have the decency to wait!

Well, it wasn’t waiting. I got the tub situated under the kitchen window, threw on my quick-dry nylon pants and some old running shoes, and headed out into the storm. I was instantly drenched. There was at least an inch of standing water in our backyard, and in places it was creeping up the foundation. Aaargh! I pulled our free-on-Craigslist ladder out and went around the side of the house with the kitchen window. The eves there are much smaller than the rest of the house, and I could see water just gushing over the gutter, down the side of the house, and right into the window – the gutters and drains were clogged with fall leaves. Much cursing, careful balancing, and dinged up hands later, I had the gutter and drainspout cleared and water was now shooting forcefully out onto the lawn. I proceeded to the other four drains and did the same, feeling like the worst was over.

But it wasn’t. I checked the forecast online and the radar showed no end in sight. Here’s a writeup on how rare this amount of rain was for October… (hint: very rare).

I ran back upstairs and outside to find the low spot at the foot of the stairs was beyond full and a few inches of water was lapping at the foundation. I knew from the previous owner that corner was prone to flooding, so I panicked and started bailing out the low spot. (by bailing, I mean I found a metal container for a paint roller and was throwing the water into the middle of the lawn). For a brief moment the rain let up and I was able to clear nearly all the standing water out. Whew. Then it started again. Buckets of rain. I was totally unable to keep up by bailing, so I ran a hose from the growing lake down into the basement sink and tried to start another siphon. For whatever reason – clogging? The hose too soft to hold pressure? – the siphon wouldn’t hold for long, and it was back to cursing and bailing. I took some pictures during this time but it was too dark and they didn’t turn out.

Here’s the aftermath:
On the left you can see the puddle the next day where I was bailing from. On the right is the outer ring of water from the bailing efforts – the leaves sort of define the splash zone. Crazy. What lessons can be learned?

  • Clean your gutters when the forecast calls for rain in the fall.
  • Have homebrewing gear sitting around and be comfortable with siphoning. ;)
  • Don’t overreact. I probably could have let the backyard go a bit and not had any more flooding.
  • Never leave your house! Obviously impractical, but I shudder to think of the damage if I hadn’t been there to catch the kitchen flooding before it got bad.
  • Double up the crust on the edge of your pies:

(the pie turned out great) The end.


Posted by Nate in Homeowners, The '05 Move.
Friday, August 12th, 2005 at 4:31 pm

Flor de Caña toast to our new house!

update: This is the day we got possession of the house – somehow I had the foresight to leave a bottle of Flor de Caña handy… I predict this is the last time until we move that you’ll be able to see that much clean floor. :)

Yay debt!

Posted by Nate in Homeowners, The '05 Move.
Thursday, July 28th, 2005 at 11:30 am

Done deal. We’re now officially homos. Homeowners, whatever. It was easy – just a bunch of signing. Oh, and a huge check. And something about monthly payments. I don’t remember, it all happened so fast. I’m sure they were just kidding about the bank taking the house if we don’t pay. Ha ha!

Homeowner’s Insurance

Posted by Nate in Homeowners.
Friday, July 8th, 2005 at 1:20 pm

As you can see below, I’ve just discovered how to make my new phone post images automatically to the blog! This will surely make for a more exciting visual experience, and hopefully add some depth to the posts — being worth a thousand words, and all… (Now if I could just get it to stop titling the post "A Picture Share!" Anyone? *)

Today’s topic: Insurance. We need it before we can close. Neither K nor I have ever had renter’s insurance, a combination of not wanting another payment and not feeling like we had enough valuables to insure. (Which, when I look at all my digital video gear and computer hardware, has been a pretty poor but lucky decision.) Anyway, the house itself will be covered automatically in the insurance, but it’s optional whether to insure the "contents". I think this time I’ll opt for yes and stop betting on luck…

* Found it – under settings, you can turn title display on or off. Looks like the default is off.