Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘problem solving

Saving Thousands

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If money was no object for us, I would have spent last night reclining in my easy chair with my feet up doing something pleasant, like napping. Instead, we are saving thousands of dollars by doing the work of replacing the rotting surface boards of our deck ourselves, along with the priceless assistance of our precious friend, Mike Wilkus.

That meant Cyndie and I were both out on the deck after I got home from work yesterday, manically striving to prepare as much as possible for today’s plan of installing the new boards.

We are going to keep the railing, so Cyndie has been sanding and wire brushing that wood to remove the lichen that has grown on much of it.

I worked to remove more of the old surface boards, prying up the original ones that were nailed and pulling screws from previous replacement planks.

It is one of those projects that shouldn’t be difficult but always includes unexpected challenges that suddenly bog down progress and increase frustration. Often, it has been a hidden screw that I missed, or simply one where the head is stripped and won’t spin out.

My hole-saw bit has been working wonderfully as a solution to free the old boards and leave problem screws behind to be spun out with a vice grip plier.

Most of the boards are coming up with ease, so I am growing more confident that the whole project is in reach of being as straightforward as we hoped. I’m thinking the bulk of work today will involve hauling new boards to be cut to length and then screwing them down to the joists.

All the while, I’ll be thinking about how much money we are saving by not contracting this out to any of those high bidders who recently quoted the job.

Our labor will be worth thousands.

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Written by johnwhays

October 4, 2019 at 6:00 am

Wild Interlopers

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Lately, for some yet-to-be-determined reason, we have been experiencing a distinct increase in uninvited wild visitors, some of whom seem interested in establishing residency. Some of them are cute and for the most part harmless, like the five young deer Cyndie spotted grazing in the back pasture last night.

Some are, unfortunately, all too familiar, like the mice and bats that Pequenita seems to view as mere house playmates for her ongoing enjoyment.

There are, as noted in two other recent posts, a family of raccoons and a suspected woodchuck making their presence known in broad daylight on separate occasions.

Yesterday morning, Cyndie sent me a picture looking out the egress window of the basement bedroom revealing a large mound of soil tossed up by one of several possible burrowing pests.

I’m leaning toward the woodchuck, based on the size of the excavation.

When I got home to see for myself, there were two frogs peering in the window from the top of the pile, and a mole napping off to the side.

My adventurous spirit is at a low ebb and I am struggling to muster any interest whatsoever in addressing even one of these wild animal pests, let alone all of them. Sadly, neglecting to deal with them now offers nothing but greater complications later. I’d rather not admit that it crossed my mind that we could simply sell the place, as is, and let the buyers deal with the pests.

Or, we could throw money at the problem and hopefully find a professional who is genuinely interested in tackling the challenges. I wonder if it would be possible to trap both a woodchuck and some raccoons at the same time?

I will happily watch the critters be driven down our driveway and off into the sunset for relocation at some magical forest that is over 25 miles away from everywhere, where all pest control companies release their captives to live out pesky lives in blissful harmony.

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Written by johnwhays

September 4, 2019 at 6:00 am

Cute Nuisances

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They sure look cute. All three of them, according to Cyndie’s eyewitness account, peering down at her from the great oak tree right outside our front door. I only count two in this photo she sent me yesterday while I was too far away at work to do anything about them.

I suppose I could have thrown a shoe up toward their general direction.

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If there are three young ones up there, logic suggests there is at least one parent also loitering in the vicinity. I’m happy to have so much wildlife wandering around, but we’d rather not have them choosing to reside so close to our home.

The way people around here deal with this kind of thing usually involves firearms, which we are more comfortable not keeping and bearing, regardless of any amendments.

Next choice, live trap, which involves transporting to a distance from which they won’t return at a location they are welcome.

Last choice, which we used when a mama raccoon had babies in the hay shed, pay painfully large sums of our hard-earned dollars to have someone solve the problem for us.

Out of sight, out of mind, out of cash.

As of this morning, I (we) have gone with my tried and true method of making no decision yet, while allowing time to provide a shove toward some solution the universe prefers. We left home and drove up to the lake for Labor Day weekend, taking Delilah with us.

Maddie, our most recent summer animal-care provider, is stopping by to tend to chickens and feed Pequenita while we are away.

Cyndie warned her to close the coop promptly at dusk and keep an eye out for the little masked bandits.

We’ll see what time brings.

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Written by johnwhays

August 30, 2019 at 7:58 am

Another Trailer

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Problem solved.

Enough said.

For the backstory, see “Sad Laughter.”

Cyndie financed the purchase of a replacement for the trailer that she mistakenly sold, and she found a way to have it shipped for free.

On to the next challenge.

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Written by johnwhays

June 24, 2019 at 6:00 am

Another Test

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My previous test to learn if I can create posts on my phone to achieve my desired result taught me a few things. Yes, it is possible, but it doesn’t match posts I create on my laptop. No, I haven’t found out if I can format the text as “justified.” My images appeared, but not as a clickable link to the full size, like I want.

So, I am trying again. I am importing a full-sized image that I successfully transferred from my camera to my phone over WiFi.

The app didn’t ask the size I want the image to appear, so I need to hunt for that setting somewhere.

I chose this image of my lock in case someone can offer advice in dealing with a forgotten combination.

(Oh, I also learned how to add text to my images.)

My idea with the lock was to start at 0-0-0 and spin in a sequence that counted up to 9-9-9.

That would hit every possible number combination.

It didn’t work.

Thinking it was possible that I goofed somewhere along the sequence, I tried a second time. I started at 999 and worked my way down.

It still didn’t open.

Am I missing something?

Too bad I can’t just click a link for a forgotten combination which would then allow me to reset it to a number I might remember.

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Written by johnwhays

June 11, 2019 at 6:00 am

Unbelievable Response

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Words you don’t want to hear when you are seated in an easy chair in the dwindling minutes before dinnertime:

“Honey, there’s no water pressure.”

What do I know about plumbing? Not much, but I know how to investigate. We cleaned the filter, but that didn’t seem like it was bad enough to be the problem.

I could see the pressure gauge reading confirmed Cyndie’s assessment of no water pressure. Next question was the electric control. I removed a screw and pulled the panel off.

Bingo! The capacitor had blown its top.

Um, now what? Who ya gonna call?

I asked Google. The first hit in the area was a well drilling contractor in River Falls that was listed as being open 24 hours. I don’t know how they can be open 24 hours, but I called and left my phone number and a brief message. I received a return call within about five minutes.

Words you want to hear when you have no water pressure in the dwindling minutes before dinnertime:

“I’m available to come right away.”

A half an hour later, the control panel was replaced, a new pressure gauge installed, and water pressure was back to normal.

Unbelievable.

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Written by johnwhays

April 10, 2019 at 6:00 am

Necessity Invents

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I was running out of options, in regard to clearing snow. In addition to the advancing drifts narrowing the bottom half of our driveway, we are facing the possibility of more heavy, wet snow this coming weekend. If I don’t open up some space, the next snowfall would really be a pain to clear.

Necessity being the mother of invention, I needed to figure out a way to open more width along the rise where the drifting occurs.

It was tedious, but using the most available tool –our Grizzly plow– I decided to make a series of 45-degree pushes in little “bites” to move the bank out wider. In the first 20 feet, I got stuck twice, and needed to shovel my way out.

Getting hung up like that was not going to cut it, if I was going to finish this project all at once. I needed to alter my technique.

I decided to skip ahead to focus on the narrowest section first. If getting stuck was going to keep me from getting very far, I should at the very least widen the narrowest portion of the plowed driveway.

I can’t say it was any particular savvy on my part, other than recognizing what was happening, but my switch to a new spot arbitrarily reversed my direction so that I was cutting into the snow bank from the opposite angle. In so doing, I ended up pushing first with the skinny side of the plow blade.

It quickly became apparent that this orientation facilitated backing out, while coming from the other direction was getting me hung up on the wide end of the blade.

I didn’t get stuck once finishing the rest of that whole southern stretch of the driveway.

John – 1; Drifts – 0.

I win!

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Written by johnwhays

March 6, 2019 at 7:00 am