Saturday, December 28, 2013

Couple old pictures

Found a couple old picture that are relevant so I thought I would post them.

This was a repair I had to make because I forgot to turn off the water to the garage sink early enough in the fall.  I really need to learn that lesson better, but the kids like to use a hose attached to the sink to play with water pretty late into the fall.  The copper pipe burst and I had to replace it, I replaced it with a stainless steel one and I haven't had any problems since, even though I have still forgot to turn the water off early enough.  So I had to buy a new tool to get to the nut, I hope to never use it again.

 This is our mud room setup, the top and bottom unit were pretty well priced at ikea, it works well for us though Jen would like cabinet doors in there.  For what reason I am not sure since the whole area it destroyed most of the time :)  We have lots of fun outside.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Pumpkin sales and Amazon Prime

Pumpkin carving contest winner
Just wanted to note two things quickly.  My sister grew a bunch of pumpkins for her wedding at the end of September.  After the wedding we thought we would bring them back and try to sell them.  It seems like our neighbors liked the idea too, because we sold almost $50 worth of them.  We were selling regular sized pumpkins for $3 and tiny ones for $0.50 a piece.  We just put them at the top of the hill on an honor system and it worked out pretty well.

The other thing I wanted to comment on is that, I forgot to cancel my Amazon Prime membership and it auto-renewed.  We didn't use it much last year, so I was trying to find a way to cancel it and get my money back.  It turns out that if you cancel the membership you get a prorated amount back, and since it just renewed we are getting the whole $79 back.  I think it is really nice of them to do that, they could have said the membership is for a year and you can cancel it then.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Comcast issue

I received a letter from Comcast saying that they were going to be sending us some boxes so that we could continue to receive the basic cable service that we pay for.  I kind of like not needing to have a box and we have adjusted just fine to only having 4 channels that we watch on TV.  We have a number of TV's in the house so it will be inconvenient to have to hook up boxes to each one.

Apparently this is the result of a recent court ruling that allows the cable companies to encrypt their basic channel offering, which up till now had been illegal.  Since we live in a metro area, over the air (OTA) will probably work for us.  Also, if I can find a neighbor to share internet with I might bid adieu to Comcast entirely.  I got an old antenna that my dad had been using, but it was kind of in pieces.  I tore out the rotate mechanism since all the signals come from one direction (and it seemed broken), and soldered the wires to the old coax circuit (just the connector, the old circuit carried power for rotating the antenna as well).  We get most of the channels, but if I split the signal I get none.  So I need to find a pre-amp.  Recommendations?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Gravel -> Blacktop

When we built our house 4 years ago we had to bring in a ridiculous about of fill for our driveway.  As a result we had/have issues with the apron on our garage sinking as well as the walkway to our front door.  So we have been hesitant to pave our driveway.

This summer the kids have been biking and triking around on the gravel quite a bit and we thought it was time to upgrade.  Last year I had gotten some quotes on the cost and they all seemed to come in at a consistent 7-8 thousand dollars.  This year I got a couple more quotes and had one at $6370 and one at $9000.  We went with cheaper options, as how bad can they screw it up?

That was about a month ago and we have been very happy with the improvement.  The kids love it and can play out there was an hour or two, which gives Jen opportunities to get some work done, or Facebook on her phone.

I also had to apron of the garage mud jacked for $400 so that the blacktop could be installed at the correct height.  This worked out pretty well too.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Benefits of Donating Blood

I donate blood, they bring the blood mobile to work so it is pretty easy.  I like to read acticles about the benefits it might have for me, in addition to the karma bump.

Benefits of Donating Blood

  1. Blood donation is good for your health. It reduces the amount of iron in the body and reduces the risk of heart disease. According to studies published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, blood donors are 88% less likely to suffer a heart attack. This is simply because when someone gives blood, iron is being removed from their system, which can significantly cut the risk of heart disease.
  2. Blood donation has also been shown to lower the risk of cancer. Consistent blood donation is associated with lowered risks for cancers including liver, lung, colon, stomach and throat cancers. Who wouldn’t like to lower their risk of cancer if given the opportunity?
  3. When someone donates blood, they get a free health check-up. Blood donors receive a mini-physical and are told about their blood pressure levels as well as their cholesterol levels; two important factors in maintaining health. If a technician taking a patients levels notices they are high, they will let the patient know that they may need to get checked out by a physician. People who get their blood pressure and cholesterol checked regularly can find out about a health issue sooner, which could make all the difference in their well-being.
  4. Along with a health check-up, the donor will get a free blood analysis and be notified of their blood type. If a patient were to go to a doctor’s office to find out their blood type or get a blood analysis it would not be free, however, as a blood donor it’s completely free to the patient. Blood that is donated is checked for several health factors to make sure it can be used for donation. Some of the factors that are checked include HIV, syphilis and hepatitis. If blood contains a health factor that would not allow it to be donated, it is discarded and the patient is notified of the issue.
  5. There are some fun benefits of donating blood that you might not have known about, like getting some free stuff! During donation, donors are given free snacks, juice, and soda. Sometimes there is even free swag such as free t-shirts, stickers and promotional items. Blood donors also get an awesome colored wrap of their choice to go around the arm that blood was taken from.
  6. Replenishing blood can be good for the body. Donation allows for the replenishment of the donor’s blood supply, which helps the donor’s body stay healthy, function more efficiently, and work productively.
  7. Donating blood is the fastest way to lose a pound of weight.
  8. Blood donors get to relax for an hour or so and lay back in a chair. It has to be one of the easiest ways to give something back to your community and potentially help other people. Speaking of which, it feels great to donate blood knowing that with one blood donation you could help three people and could even be helping yourself if you are ever in need of blood. Plus, you can score points with co-workers, friends and family and make them be nice to you for the day, because your sticker says they have to be!

Found this at:

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Updating Shelves in Basement

Shortly after we moved into the new house I built some shelves in the basement for storage of "stuff".  It served us well for 4 years, but I had an itch to have the shelves go all the way across as well as dress it up for when we finish the basement some year.

I started building these in June and finished them up, but don't have any pictures of the finished product so I will add what I have now and take a few once I get home.  As you can see I first had to "clear" the area, but put up some drywall.  I had to build the shelves around the radon mitigation pipe I had just installed as well.

I used some 2x4 brackets to attach the cross pieces to the studs behind the drywall, then cut some short 2x4 supports and toe-nailed them into the cross pieces.  The shelves have been holding up well under the weight.  Room is about 12 feet across.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Radon Supplement.

Article on radon from kstp and a few more pictures of the install.  I drilled the hole into the concrete and was lucky to come in right by the drain tile.  I drilled a few more holes in the drain tile to increase airflow to the rest of the basement.

I also put a cap on the vent coming out of the roof, however it did reduce the airflow (from what I could see on the manometer).

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Vapor Intrusion... Who knew?!

I received an email from Aria Cahill regarding this infograph. Seems like some good information and another reason I am happy we were able to address our radon issue.  Apparently there are other chemicals in the ground as well that act similar to radon and will intrude into your basement.  It appears that the mitigation is the same as for radon, so we are covered.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Radon Mitigation Success !

After reading an article in newspaper about radon in the Twin Cities, Jen thought we should test our basement (since we had just put in a gas fireplace).  Test came back with a reading of 10 pCi/L, 4 is the EPA recommended level.  So we bought an electronic meter and stayed out of the basement for a week.

We placed the sensor in the same location to verify the accuracy with the other test.  The reading for the electronic meter came back at 12.  The directions say to place the meter 20 inches above the floor, but since we are always crawling around we thought we would get a reading on the floor.  On the floor the reading was 25-30 pCi/L.

So after doing some reading I found that typical installation fees for mitigation systems run $800 to $1200, which I thought was a bit excessive for the materials involved.  Being a DIY kind of guy I installed the system myself and now the reading is 1.2 pCi/L on the floor!  We are very happy.


  • Fan - $100
  • Pipe - $50
  • Drill rental - $70
  • Incidentals - ~$50 ?
So for about $300 I was able to install the system.  It wasn't too hard and it was very satisfying to see the reduction in the reading.