Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘Home Improvement

Fiber Buried

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The ongoing waiting game notched another step closer to having a fiber cable internet connection in our home when the crew showed up yesterday to run the cable from the pole on the street up to the side of our house.

I found it fascinating to observe the techniques of burying cable from close proximity. They had to bore under the road to bring the cable from the pole to our property. I learned they use a jet of water to carve a path for their piping. There was a rather large crew who took turns doing a fair amount of waiting between moments of busy activity.

They actually start at the house and bury the cable back down to where it gets pulled through a protective tube they install beneath the road.

Wherever they cross a gas line or the buried electric supply line, a hole is carefully shoveled to provide clear visibility of the depth they must avoid.

I attempted to schedule the last step of the in-home connection but jumped the gun because there is one more task that needs to happen first. Today’s crew simply buried the fiber optic cable and mounted a box on the outside of our house. A different person will show up to splice the connection of the cable routed under the road from our house to the feed that comes off the telephone pole.

I’m told that once the splice is done a tag will be hung on our front door with instructions to call to set up an appointment for the technician to run the cable from the box on the outside of the house through the wall to where we will connect the modem they provide.

It shouldn’t be long now until we take a leap forward into the present-day state of streaming content on the internet.

We will finally be able to allow our devices to download software updates whenever they become available, along with other high bandwidth activities. Streaming music threatens to command my attention for more hours a day than I should allow. I may need to actually practice some self-discipline or something.

Before I get to start worrying about that, somebody needs to show up and splice the connection across the road. But, it sure is sweet to have the cable finally buried up to the house. That is a milestone for which we have long awaited.



Written by johnwhays

September 21, 2022 at 6:00 am

Driveway 2.0

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Our next big project is now underway. We have committed to spending too many of our hard-earned saved dollars to fix the driveway that has been crumbling since the first few months after we arrived here. That was almost ten years ago. In the ongoing saga of our adventure of leaving the suburbs to create a sanctuary of rural bliss that we call Wintervale, this improvement on the land might be the least important but the most visible.

The old dilapidated pavement was still driveable, but it looked completely neglected (it was!) and was becoming increasingly more of a nuisance by the day. Smooth new asphalt will be a joy to have and it will make this place look even more amazing than it already did despite the lousy driveway surface.

We are contracting with two different companies that have worked together many times before. Yesterday, the excavating company that has supported us on multiple projects in the past, started the process of removing the old asphalt from a majority of the length. Specifically, the portion just above the shop garage all the way down to the road.

The asphalt company will overlay new pavement on top of the old asphalt in front of the shop garage and up to the house where little deterioration was evident.

After the excavators pulled up the first chunks of asphalt, they deduced the material used for the base looked like it was not as coarse as they recommend and it was not applied as thick as it should have been, especially in the low area where wetness and our clay soil combine to create a potential for problems.

Watching the process was mesmerizing for me. I stared in wonder like a little kid. The man operating the backhoe was an artist, deftly manipulating the controls to efficiently pull up and then break chunks of asphalt in one smooth motion.

After the first load of broken asphalt was hauled away, the truck returned with a full load of gravel to slowly pour out over the length of the excavated section. Then, that truck would be positioned beside the backhoe to receive more removed asphalt.

Eventually, a second truck showed up with gravel and joined the rotation. By quitting time, they had torn up about three-quarters of the length. They should be able to finish the entirety of their portion of the work before the end of the day today.

The asphalt company has us on their schedule to start next Monday with their work. When the quote was made this spring, the man said it would be best if they could lay the pavement during the hottest days of summer. It is looking good at this point with high temperatures in the 90s°F expected.

When your driveway is 900 feet long over two rolling hills, it becomes a significant feature of the overall property. I’m really looking forward to having ours updated to a new and improved version 2.0.



Written by johnwhays

July 12, 2022 at 6:00 am

Home Imperfect Improvement

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This place has been lacking a bit of color lately, so I’m posting this image to properly represent the season. Before you know it, I won’t need to mow the yard and I’ll be putting away hoses, but you couldn’t tell from the warm weather we’ve been enjoying lately. I needed to work late yesterday and wasn’t able to see out any windows until about 7:30 p.m. and boy was I shocked at how dark it was already. Then I stepped out to find it feeling middle-of-the-day balmy. I wished I was at a high school football game, enjoying the ideal evening.

On my way home, I decided to take care of a long-neglected chore and stopped to buy a new shower head. Have you seen the recent news reports that bacteria growing in these fixtures gets blasted into the air when we shower? Ours was already slated for replacement because it is growing visible accumulations of, most likely, nasty stuff, even after having been soaked in vinegar to extend its life once already. The news helped push me to finally take action, but after monkeying around with that one simple chore, I was reminded of why I am so reluctant to face these kinds of projects.

There is always some hassle that arises to cultivate my frustration. Lesson for me to learn here, anyone? I only hesitated a reasonable amount over the difficulty of making a decision of which shower head to pick, out of the 20-some varieties on display at the super-store of home stuff. I was then lucky enough to be able to check out with a real live clerk. Traffic at that hour was slim and the drive home in the beautiful evening actually pleasant. There was even minimal difficulty cutting the new shower head out of its bomb-proof plastic case. Things were sailing along pretty well.

Maybe I became a bit impatient. When I couldn’t find the correct size wrench, I decided that I could improvise a tool to suffice for such a simple project and not let something like that trip me up. I was on a roll and wanted to keep up my momentum. I struggled a bit harder than I thought should be necessary to get the old head off and then wrapped the threads with new teflon tape. After threading the new head onto the pipe, I turned on the water and walaa! That should do it.

But, NOOOOoooooo. There is a little bubble of water coming out of the base of the threads. I use my incorrect tools to try snugging it a little tighter. No change. My perfectionism kicks in and I decide I can’t leave it as is. I will remove it to reapply the tape. But now it is really hard to turn. I scratch it up because I don’t have the correct wrench and then get it off to see there is no obvious problem. I put tape on again, covering more of the threads than I had the first time. I scratch it up some more while turning it and then apply water pressure. Still leaks. I try snugging tighter than I feel it is meant to go. Still leaks. Perfectionist frustration meter is in the red zone.

It’s a shower head. Water drips off of it. What’s the problem with that? I’m pretty sure it shouldn’t matter, but it bugs the heck out of me. Instead of enjoying the clean, new fixture, I will always notice that I installed it with a leak. And I will regret the next chore on the to-do list that I’ve been neglecting, even before I get to it. Unless, maybe, I discover the lesson I have before me…

Talking Home Improvement

Words & Music by Charlie Maguire © Mello-Jamin Music. All rights reserved.

Now gather around this won’t take long
“Talking Home Improvement” is the name of this song
Do it yourself, and many try, as soon as the ink on the deed is dry
They can’t wait!
Catastrophic Carpentry is what I call it
That’s when you learn that wood is sold by the foot
And ends up costing an arm and a leg!

I don’t know much about it myself
But I work on my home like everyone else
I feel like a sheriff in an outlaw town, I’ve got a hammer on each hip when I walk around
Just like in the movies
“All right water heater, this house ain’t big enough for the both of us. Ok, chimney…draw!”

When I’ve got to fix something I’m not scared
I have this great big book on home repair
Cost me sixteen dollars and it weighs ten pounds
But I’m saving money, they told me down at the hardware store
They know me on sight down there
I save hundreds of dollars there every week!

I’ve got a power sander, a power saw, a power drill, and a whole lot more
And every time I plug them in
My electric meter starts to grin
Sure saves me time though
I can make twice as many mistakes
I am a home owner, and I do it over
Look out you carpenters!

On the weekends if I’m not too tired
I take a trip down to the lumber yard
Walk through the sheds, and down the aisles
Buy stuff for my domicile
There is a whole bunch of us down there
Bandages on our hands, blisters, all milling around
Trying to find someone who knows what they’re doing!

So if you miss me hanging around
You’ll find me up in my part of town
Sanding a floor, putting up a shelf
Learning to do it all myself–
With a two-by-four, and a four-by-ten
Tuck point, baseboard, weatherstripping
Screwdriver, sheet rock, bit and brace
Nail set, hammer, chisel, hacksaw blade
Zip Strip, miter box, pencil line
And the banker says it will all be mine,
In about 30 years time…Whoopie!
I ought to have the kitchen done by then!
Then I can go out and mow the lawn!

Written by johnwhays

September 16, 2009 at 7:00 am

Posted in Chronicle

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