tnrkitect: (Default)
For those that aren't aware, I drive what is commonly referred to as a "clunker". It is a 1991 Chrysler Le Baron Convertible, black, with a black top and a grey leather interior. It was a sweet car in its prime, but the years have not been kind to it. A previous owner had put it into a ditch, creasing a fender and warping the original rims. I have managed to fix some of the issues in the year or so that I have owned it, but some of them (like the body work) are too expensive, costing more than the car is worth.

While out shopping last night, we ran into a slight problem when I tried to start the car after finishing up at Hobby Lobby here in Huntsville. The key would not go into the ignition all the way, rendering the car unstartable. Try as I might, I could not get the key in, and unfortunately, my tools were at the house.  The problem was that the tumblers (the spring loaded little pins inside the lock cylinder that adjust to the contours of the key, and when in the right position, they allow the key to turn) had extended too far, and were blocking the key's path.

So, I had to call a mobile locksmith. This was $75, or about what a tow would have cost, but after about 15-20 minutes of him working on it, he managed to get the tumblers back into position (possibly wedged out of the way) and informed me that it was working, but he wouldn't trust it to not fail again, so I should get the cylinder replaced ASAP.

Now, if I were not mechanically inclined, I would most likely have dropped it off at a mechanic to get the work done, and this would have most likely set me back between $100-$150. But I AM mechanically inclined, so after he got it working again, I came home, used the power of the internet to find the part at a nearby parts store, then went and spent $19 on a new cylinder with key.

Today, I grabbed the Haynes repair manual, read up on what needed to be done and how to do it, and found what I thought were the needed tools. Well they were, but all I had was a bit driver with exchangeable bits to work with. This normally would be all I need, but the cowling on the steering column which I had to remove to get access to the ignition lock, had two torx screws buried deep inside of it, and the bit driver was too wide to fit into the access holes to get to them. So, a quick trip to Lowes and $11 later, I had a shiny new set of torx screwdrivers.

Once I had the proper tool, it took me about 10-15 minutes to remove the cowling, remove the old cylinder, put the new cylinder in, and reassemble everything. A quick turn of the new key, and the car started back up the way it was supposed to. :-)

So, to recap, I spent:
$75 on the locksmith to get the car temporarily drivable
$19 on the ignition cylinder and key
$11 on the new set of torx screwdrivers

Grand total $105

If I had just towed the car to the mechanic and let them deal with it, I would have been out:
$75-100 on the tow bill
$25 on the ignition cylinder and key (they add a surcharge to the parts)
$60-120 for the labor of fixing it (this depends on how long the manuals say the repair should take)
$60 for the cab fare / rental car while the car was in the shop

Grand total $220 - $305

The car now has two keys, one for the ignition and one for the doors and trunk, but it works so I won't complain. :-)


Nov. 7th, 2010 10:25 am
tnrkitect: (Default)
Things have been going fairly well here, aside from the issue of selling the house. We have had two contracts fall through.

The first was from where the buyer's real estate agent scared them off because they didn't understand the issues of an old house. The agent felt that things should be perfect, just like it was built yesterday, and anything that wasn't perfect meant that the house was going to burn or fall down any moment.

The second unfortunately had a home inspector find mold growing in the crawlspace, and backed out as a  result. We are getting quotes for having the mold remediated, and will take care of it, but it won't happen before the closing date, so no deal. Once the quotes come in, we will get the mold taken care of, but... still.

At this point, getting to the closing table this year is looking iffy. But, I am thankful that the new job pays well enough that we can afford (barely) to rent our place down here and live, while still paying the mortgage up there. Every month that the house goes unsold is another month that we own a tiny bit more leaving less to pay off.

So, until the house is sold, the finances are still tight as (insert favorite folksy-saying here).

Be that as it may, things are settling down at work. I am getting  better grip on my job duties, and am able to therefore keep more plates spinning at one time. I am still traveling a decent bit, which is nice since I make a little extra doing so, but not so much that my wife feels that she is single again. ;-)

She and I (mostly she) are getting the new place organized. We still have a good bit of stuff packed in boxes that are making the space feel junky. Until we make good bit more progress, any guest that comes gets to sleep on the couch, if there are two, it means an air mattress in the living room floor.

Since things are settling down, I have started to think about things I want to write about here, as well as other things outside this blog that I want to do. Some of them I can do, (write here on various topics, build shelves for storage round the house), others I can't until I get more room (set up my workshop, set up a model train layout), but things are getting closer to happening.

Of the things I can do, the shelves require some outlay of funds for material, as well as dedicating the time to collect my tools from the boxes they are packed away in before I can even start building, however they are first on the priority list. The writing here will come in smaller spurts prior to this, but will be more in depth afterwards.

All in all, we are blessed, and well positioned for what I see happening in the next 2-6 years (what exactly that is will be the topic of my future posts here). However for now, I am going to take a walk around this eminently walkable neighborhood we are living in with the wife, enjoying the crisp, fall air, and getting some sunshine therapy in. :-)

tnrkitect: (Default)
Means time to do some work outside!

Today, we had to make a Lowe's run to get some supplies. We have an issue with water getting under our house at the basement door, which I am willing to bet is the reason that that corner of the house has settled over the years. I came up with a low dollar solution (concrete threshold and regrading of the earth at the door) and a high dollar solution (a small foyer that would allow the installation of a full size door, but would require removal of the existing concrete steps and creation of new ones), and, being a bit on the poor side due to student debt, we decided to go with the cheaper solution of the concrete threshold. So, we picked up two 40 pound bags of concrete, and will do the work next weekend, or at least the next weekend that is dry enough to do the work.

But the big ticket item was a 24 ft aluminum extension ladder. Our gutters needed cleaning badly, as they were clogged with leaves and sticks. With all the rain we have gotten recently, this meant that our gutters would overflow easily.

Now, as you might recall, earlier this year we sold my truck of many years, and replaced it with an 91 Le Baron Convertible that I am slowly restoring back to pristine shape. (next up, bodywork).

Now, this means that we had to get from Lowe's back to house with the ladder. Although it was a 24 foot ladder, thanks to it being an extension ladder, collapsed it was only 12 ft. But there was still the issue of: we have a convertible.

Our solution was to drop the top (big surprise there), recline the passenger seat fully, and put the bottom of the ladder in the front footwell so that it stuck out over the rear seat and trunk. Jessica rode in the back behind me and kept the ladder from shifting too much, while I drove home.

Problem solved!

One we got home, I immediately put it to use by cleaning the gutters. It wasn't too bad actually, as the two highest and longest gutters were mostly clean (no tall trees on the side of the house, but give the cherries a few years ;-)

I did determine however that the gutter overflow problem at the rear, right over the entrance to the basement mentioned above, is due not to clogged gutters (although that did not help) but rather due to the fact that the gutter is majorly undersized. The gutter is only about 12 feet long, but the way that the roof slopes collect, I'd say that 1/3rd of the entire roof is draining to that one gutter. I see replacing that gutter with a substantially larger one in my future.

After all of that, we cleaned up and have relaxed the rest of the evening.

I have a few tasks to achieve tomorrow, namely replacing an old ungrounded cord with a new grounded cord on an antique linen mangle or rotary iron. (See for what they can do.)

Plus, I need to put up a curtain rod in the dressing room.

Fun times!
tnrkitect: (Default)
Feeling good right now, thanks to a lemon-lime-green apple daquiri I concocted. A little bit of sour mix, some green apple mix, and a dash (ok, two dashes of rum) blended together with ice makes for a nice refreshing drink on a hot (almost) summer afternoon.

However, the day has not been unproductive.

This morning, I ran to the local Weigels to get more milk (we were almost out) and while there, I succumbed to the lure of krispy kreme donuts, so I pick some up for our breakfast. Then, we headed down to the local habitat thrift store and picked up a chest of drawers for the hall that Jessica had seen last week and wished she had bought then.

When we arrived, she thought it had been sold as they had moved it to another room, but we found it and picked it up. It is a basic low dresser, 3 drawers, solid maple with dovetail joinery. But, the top drawer is missing, and in its place a previous owner had built a sort of cubby-hole insert. From what we can tell, there used to be a door that folded down in the front of it as well. It was in the process of being refinished, as the drawers had been sanded down and were missing the knobs, but it was worth the $25 we paid.

After we brought it home, I sorted through some papers and put the ones needing to be saved away so that Jessica could finish cleaning the house.

I also set up the Canon S9000 13" x 19" printer that I had in storage from way back. The 3rd year of school it had stopped feeding paper, and I just boxed it up and kept it, planning on getting it fixed. Well, I never got it fixed, and it has just been junk that had never been cleared out. I even tried to sell it at the yard sale for $1.00, but no one bought it.

Good thing too! I was messing with it last night, and actually planned to send it back to Canon for recycling. They have a program where you pay $12 for postage and they send you a link to print out a UPS label. After I had purchased the recycling label, I poked at a bit, figuring that if I broke it more, it wouldn't matter.

Low and behold, I managed to get the paper feed mechanism working again! It needs ink, but it feeds paper and prints with the ink colors I do have, and now I have a large format photo printer at home again. :-)

After discussing it with Jessica, we figured out where I could set it up with it attached to the desktop computer, and it is now ready to go.

THEN, I came out and installed the JVC CS-BB2 amplified 6" self-powered subwoofer system (This one: ) in the LeBaron. I had replaced the stereo and speakers in it a few weeks back with a Clarion Head unit (This one: ) for an amazing price as they were discontinuing it, along with Kicker brand 3.5" and 5.25" 3 way speakers to repalce the blown ones in the car. The car has 6 speaker locations, two 3.5" in the dash, two 5.25" in the doors, and two 5.25" in the rear side panels (your elbows hit the speaker grills).

I installed it myself on a Saturday a little over a month ago and have been loving it ever since. It is a standard AM/FM stereo receiver with CD player and a removable face plate. The neat feature on the CD player is that it will play burned CDs (including Re-writable CDs) with MP3s or WMAs on them. Not only that, but it has a USB port on the front face to plug in a jump drive loaded up with more music. Well, I tried it out, and it recognizes my external hard drive, so I now have access to 100 GB worth of continuous music while rocking down the highway! :-)

The only problem I had with the stereo system was not a fault of the equipment but rather a shortcoming of convertibles and Jeeps in general. When you drive down the road, the mids and highs are clear, but the bass disappears in the road and wind noise. Thus my decision to get the sub.

Well, the reviews on this particular sub are uniformly great or terrible. If you are looking for something to put in your vehicle to go BOOM-BOOM-BOOM down the street rattling windows in the houses you pass, this is not for you. Those that like that sound hated this sub. If you are looking for something to give you that little extra boost to the lows to restore the sound, then this is your ticket. Those who wanted that sort of sound LOVE it. I fall into the second category of people, so I picked one up cheap on EBay.

It has a very thin profile, only 2 1/2" tall, is 11 5/8" long, and 7 7/8" wide. It is designed to fit in tight spaces such as under a seat. It includes a wiring harness and the ability to either send the signal to the sub via RCA patch cables or via tapping onto the existing speaker wires. It also has a wired remote that has an on/off button and a volume knob so you can adjust the bass to fit the music as it plays.

Well, I knew that I needed it out of sight since in a convertible anything visible is easy pickings. I wasn't able to put it under the drivers seat as that seat has the electric adjustments and the mechanisms take up ALL of the room under there.

I didn't want to put it under the passenger seat, as that space is currently where my AC power converter resides to power the lap-top or external hard drive, or what ever needs 110v AC. There is enough room beside the converter to place my external drive as well, but that is about it.

I got to looking at the options, and realized that there was a space under the dash over the center hump, behind the radio and cubbies that was a perfect fit. There are two trim pieces of carpet on hardboard on each side that cover this space, held on by clips and velcro. I removed one of those, and slid everything into place. This puts it about 6 inches from the back of the stereo in the dash, so after I hooked everything up I had to bundle all the excess wires with a twist tie. The bundle actually sits in front of the sub enclosure and helps steady it. I bolted the thing to the floor, put the trim peices back on, and ran the remote's wire under the trim piece to beside the center console, where I gave it enough slack to hide inside the console.

Then I tested everything. Success!

I adjusted the bass on the head unit down, since when you crank it up loud the door and dash speakers start to bottom out. The sub is using the pre-amp RCA jack outputs, so this doesn't affect it, and it fills in the lows that the dor and dash speakers can't handle.

I plugged in a thumb drive loaded with a sampling of songs that have a good range of sound. Nickle Creek, Bob Seger, Doobie Brothers, The Eagles, Billy Joel, all sounded amazing at higher levels. Depending on the song, the base needs to be dialed up or back, but that is wasy to accomplish with the sub's remote.

So, success!

My next post will explain why I wanted to get this done post haste. Stay tuned!
tnrkitect: (Default)
This past weekend, I set my alarm clock an hour earlier than normal to allow us to get up and get our yard sale set out for the early riser die-hards. That evening before I went to bed, I turned it off so that I could sleep in. I didn't turn it back on until Monday night, having (luckily) awoken at the normal time that morning without it. But, I turned it on and thought nothing of it.

Yesterday, it went off at the programmed time, still an hour early. I was half asleep, and got up and started getting ready. (For those that are not aware, I am NOT a morning person, and thus it takes me a while to get fully conscious). I glanced at the clock, noticed it was 20 til, and headed out the door.

I noticed traffic was light on the way to work, but it wasn't until I was over halfway there that I looked down at the clock on the radio and figured out why.

It was (then) 10 minutes until 7, not 10 minutes until 8.


Anywho, I ended up getting an extra hour of work in yesterday as a result, and postponed Jessica's and mime's Dinner and a Movie Date night until tonight due to be exhausted.


Apr. 4th, 2009 08:06 pm
tnrkitect: (Default)
Yesterday we both took a trip to the dentist. The work we need is going to hurt the pocketbook. :-( I won't go into the specifics, but I foresee us hitting the $1,000 per person per year insurance payout cap well before we get everything done.

Slept in a bit this morning, thanks to our turning the alarm off when it buzzed. We needed the sleep though, so I won't grouse about it.

Once we were up and functional enough to get behind the wheel, we headed off to the parts store to get some replacement hold open struts for the trunk that I had ordered on the LeBaron. Then, it was off to work.

I did a good bit of work on the school, while Jessica worked on some more jewelry. We didn't spend the whole day there though, as we needed to get some craft supply shopping done.

Once we started off to do our shopping, it was nice enough that we put the top down as we drove to the different stores in West Knoxville. We ended up hitting AC Moore, Michaels, JoAnns, Lowes, Best Buy (for a new mouse for the desktop), and Wal-Mart before we came home.

I think the sun was a little more than we both were used to, as we both feel exhausted and as a result are a little snappish. But we know we are, and do our best to filter what we say before we hurt feelings.

Tomorrow, I need to go to Oak Ridge, as the Knoxville Area Model Railroaders are having their monthly business meeting. But I am not sure if I will make it yet. We will see in the morning. ;-)

Monday after work, we will need to cover our strawberries in the garden. A cold front is moving through on Monday, dragging enough cold air down that we are actually supposed to see some snow flurries on the backside of the frontal storms Monday night into Tuesday morning. :-/ The cold just needs to stay north, thankyouverymuch!

Anyways, work, studying, garden, car, and Etsy crafts are taking up our time. No wonder I am so scarce around these parts!
tnrkitect: (Default)
I jsut got back from taking Jessica to get some supplies for her stuff she makes and sells in store:Old Fashioned, But Good.

This morning, I took my 3rd ARE. I thought I was taking and had studied for Building Systems. However when I sat down to take the test, up pops Building Design & Construction Systems.

Not. The. Same. Thing.

It was too late to reschedule, so as I had already paid the $170 for it, I went ahead and took it.

It wasn't that bad.

In fact, I think I did pretty well, considering that there were only about 6-8 questions out of 95 multiple choice that I was not sure about, and only 4 of those I had no clue on.

The graphics portion was a bit more "fun".

I was prepared to design a combination reflected ceiling plan, lighting plan, and HVAC plan.

Instead, I had to design: A handicap ramp and stair, a stair with intermediate landing, and a roof plan. Unfortunately, I think I may have misunderstood the programmatic requirements for the stair, and might not have shown the handicapped area of refuge properly. We shall see. :-/

Oh well.

Next up is Construction Documents and Services, in 3 weeks on April 17th.

And I still have not received my test scores from the first one yet.

Tomorrow, Jessica and I are doing a day trip to Alabama to pick up a new (to us at least) car. my sister [ profile] keesa_renee has a 1991 Chrysler LeBaron Convertible that has been sitting since before she went to Peru as a missionary. It had some engine issues, in that it was leaking about a quart of oil every 30 minutes it ran. The body and interior are in good shape, and it has low miles for a 18 year old car with the odometer only showing 138,000. So I bought it from her for $500 and had it towed to the closest Chrysler dealership to get it checked out and repaired.

I decided to send it there because the repair work comes with a 2 year nationwide warranty (assuming that Chrysler doesn't go bankrupt). They checked it out, and it turned out to have 4 oil leaks. Front main seal, oil pan, valve covers, and oil sending unit. While they were in there, I had them replace the timing belt, and give it a complete tune up.

So now, mechanically it should be as good for another 100,000 miles, as the research shows that the 3.0l V-6 that is in the car historically lasts for 200,000-300,000 miles before needing to be rebuilt, so long as you do the maintenance and keep an eye out for and fix the oil leaks before they get too bad.

My truck, which now has 233,000 miles on it, is going up for sale. Locally, I should be able to get about $1,500 for it, even in this economy.

We decided that although it is still running well and is dependable, we don't need two vehicles. Or more specifically, we don't need two insurance premiums, and the upkeep on two vehicles, plus fuel for two vehicles.

The truck is useful as, well, a truck, especially when we need to go pick up bulky stuff. However, I have a 6' x 9' covered utility trailer, and the LeBaron with it's V-6 actually has a higher towing capacity than the 4 cylinder in my truck does.

So, I will get a trailer hitch put on the LeBaron, and will sell the truck to help pay for the repairs to the LeBaron.

Anyways, tomorrow we go and pick it up. I already have the title in my name, have bought Tennessee tags for it, and have insurance on the vehicle, so we are golden.

We will drive down in the morning in the truck, with Jessica carrying the dog, Lady, on her lap. We can't leave Lady at home the whole time because she has developed a small bladder in her old age, and we would prefer not to have to clean up a mess from our wood floors. Not to mention, she tends to get a little destructive if left alone by herself for more than half a day.

Once there we will visit for a short while, but will need to get back on the road fairly quickly, as we would prefer to get back home to Knoxville before dark.

On the drive back, Jessica will drive the car with Lady as her co-pilot, while I follow in the truck.

Unfortunately she won't be able to put the top down, as there is anywhere from a 90% chance of thunderstorms for Alabama to a 100% chance for T-storms here in Knoxville. Jessica is not amused. Especially since she hasn't really driven, except on occasion while visiting in Alabama, since we got married.

We can't stay the night though, as I have to go in and work a full day on Sunday.

I have a project that goes out on Friday, with a 100% checkset due on Monday. I have about 10% of it completed. :-(

So, Sunday, I work.

Next week, I have 1/2 a day off on Friday, as Jessica and I have dentist appointments that morning. Even though we have dental insurance, it only covers most of the costs, and we know that we both need a good bit of work done.

But, it is better to get it done now while we have insurance, than wait until we have no choice and take a chance on not having any. With the economy the way it is, employment is not guaranteed.

Fortunately, my firm is doing OK, for now. There was a stockholder "state of the company" meeting earlier this week. Although we are not doing well enough for everyone to get their 10% pay cut back, we ARE doing well enough to not have to undergo any more layoffs.

The Housing Authorities are keeping us afloat and hopping, as they spend their stimulus money.

So, busy, busy, busy!

And new wheels!
tnrkitect: (Default)
Last Friday I took the second exam of the seven required for architectural licensure. This one was on Site design, and I feel pretty good about it. However I will not know for certain until the results arrive in 3-6 weeks. I have the remaining 5 test scheduled and paid for, with my last test scheduled for Monday June 15th.

Assuming that I pass them all, this should result in being granted a license by the State of TN at their August board meeting. :-)

The rest of the weekend was spent dealing with garden stuff.

Jessica and I have planned a small veggie garden for the only sunny spot in our back yard. We spent Saturday going around to the local garden centers in search of seeds and advice. We figure that, where possible, it is better to buy locally, as the local centers will be selling varieties that will do well in this specific area. We still put in a good sized order with some of the seed / plant catalogs, but we purchased most from locals.

We are planning on growing spinach, two types of tomatoes (cherry and a larger type), green onions, garlic, cucumbers, okra, strawberries, some Gray Sugar Bush Peas (the garden center was out of sugar snap peas, and recommended these as being comparable), and we are putting in some asparagus, blackberries and raspberries, knowing that the asparagus will not be harvestable until next year at the earliest, and the berries will produce better next year.

We decided against going with raised beds this year, as I did not have the time to build the frames due to studying, so instead we are going with an in ground garden. We are locating the beds in the same place as we will have raised beds in the future, so this years garden will only help make next year's even better. We also obtained a truck load of compost from a local landscaping company, which we plan on tilling into the beds when we prep them.

Unfortunately, our plans to till them yesterday were stymied by the tiller. We were given a very good craftsman tiller by her parents. Unfortunately, the gas tank and carburetor has old gas in it that had soured, or gone skunky. I cleaned the gas tank, replaced the fuel line, and attempted to clean the carb. Sadly, the carb was shellacked and corroded enough that it refused to work, so I had to buy a new carb for it off the web. It should arrive this week, and will be simple to install, so I will be able to till the beds next weekend.

While I was fighting with the tiller, Jessica was busy getting some of the seeds started in so we can transplant seedlings in a few weeks. Rather than spending the money on peat moss trays, we are using the center tubes from toilet paper and paper towels. We cut them into sections about 2 1/2" long, crease them so that they form a box-like shape, cut flaps in one end, and fold them together top form a bottom. Once the seedlings are ready to transplant, we will stick them in the ground, tube and all.

So, we have been busy, busy!
tnrkitect: (Default)
It has been a while since I updated this.

As I explained last time, I was scarce due to the need to study for my Architectural Registration Examinations (A.R.E.'s) I took the first of seven yesterday (Structural Systems, 125 Questions, 1 graphic Vignette), and feel OK about it. It takes 2 to 6 weeks to receive the results back. I don't know for certain that I passed, but I don't feel that I bombed it. It will all depend upon where the pass/fail cutoff lands I guess. The other interns and registered architects in my office all are telling me that if I think I did OK right after taking it, then it means I passed it. We will see.

My next exam is 2 weeks from today, then I have the next one scheduled for 3 weeks after that. I need to go ahead and schedule the following ones as well, to ensure I get a slot on the dates that I want. My goal is one every 3 weeks, which at this point will have me finishing up on June 19th, assuming I pass everything the first time. If not, I have to wait 6 months before retaking any failed sections.

But assuming I pass (staying positive here) this should give the state board enough time to process the fact that I passed, and to grant me a license at their August Board meeting, August 20th and 21st.

Work is, well, work. Since the last round of layoffs, we have been short staffed, and the stress of this is beginning to show in some departments. However, we still have work, so that is a plus. Right now, our team's backlog extends to the end of April. By the time that is over, the recently passed stimulus package should have made it's way to some of our clients, which means we will continue to be busy through the rest of the year. So things are looking pretty promising on that front.

But, as you read above, studying for tests is eating my free time up for the next few months, so... don't expect much content between now and then ;-)


Jan. 4th, 2009 01:33 pm
tnrkitect: (Default)
My all too brief, yet glorious holiday is about over. Tomorrow, it is back to work, and back to dealing with the project that never ends.

What? You thought it was over when I managed to get all 101 - 36" x 48" sheets out to the printers last Tuesday?

Nope. Now, I get to deal with code review comments from the county, comments from the owner, and field questions from the bidders and their sub-contractors.

Bids are due on the 29th, so that at least, is a plus.

But, the time requirements are not as pressing as they were around Christmas.

However, starting tomorrow, I will be beginning the first round of intense studying in preparation for taking the ARE (Architectural Registration Examination) so I will be just as scarce around LJ land as previously. I will be keeping up with the goings on, but not posting too much.

Anyways, I need to get some items packed up and ready to ship out tomorrow, as well as do a few other things.



tnrkitect: (Default)
tnrkitect - Musings of an Unconventional Mind

June 2011



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