29. December 2012 · Write a comment · Categories: Home · Tags: ,

Last evening, we held a small get together for our immediate neighbors. The neighbors to the right didn’t show up due to a conflict dropping off their grandson, but each of the other three couples were able to make it. As a bit of background, the neighbors to the left are the youngest in the group. They have a 3-year old (almost 4) who is a very¬†precocious¬†girl. They have been together for a number of years, only married for the past year or so. Both are hard working, blue collar workers, and really good parents. He has been working in downtown Hartford, hooking up new city water lines to the houses. He has many stories about the residents where he’s entering the houses to measure and hook up the water pipes. Lots of stories about older kids not working and sucking their parents dry.

Directly across the street are a couple that are a bit older than we are. Both work out of the house in sales positions, and they have two children that are in high school. We learned last night that the husband has an older son from a previous marriage that is in his early 20s and is in his second tour in Afghanistan. Scary stuff, although it seems that he’s in as safe a position as possible within the country.

The third couple is diagonally across the street. We have gotten to know them through many street conversations, and are always the nicest couple. He works for a large beverage distributor (30+ years now) and is a Vietnam veteran. He also leaves for work around 4 AM each weekday. She works in a doctors office of some sort, and has a schedule that isn’t quite as crazy as her husbands.

So after 4+ years of living near these folks when no one ever got the group together, we did that for our daughter’s graduation party in June. Last night, we pulled off the second appetizer and BYOB get together, although without the celebration of our daughter’s graduation distracting us from just chatting as neighbors. People started rolling in around 7:15 and everyone was here by 8:30 or 9 after clearing up other obligations. Our plan was to have them around for an hour or two, eat a few appetizers and disband around 9. No such luck – we were all just getting along too well.

We shared many funny stories of our former next door neighbors (where the couple to the left now life), including many instances of her just being naked at the most inopportune times. When we finally looked at a clock, we realized that 8pm had turned into 10pm, and 10 had quickly turned into 1am. We shared a few shots of Irish Mist (and stories around how their bottle and ours came about), and had the opportunity to look at both an old bottle and a new one, and compare the taste of each one. When we looked at the clock, it was well after 1 AM and every person was very surprised at the laten hour.

When all was said and done, we had a very nice time with people had not previously been together for anything social during an evening. I have to think that we’ll do this again next year (or sooner) since all involved had a really nice time!

27. December 2012 · Write a comment · Categories: Home · Tags:

This Christmas season has been very relaxing so far. I have been away from my desk since the afternoon of the 21st with just four hours to work until the new year. There are many details that I will share in a later post, for now, just a couple of recent ones.

This afternoon, Sue’s nephew Matt and his family visited with just Kaite and I. It was a good chance to break the ice after a few years of not being together. After that, they went over to see Sue’s mom to visit and introduce her to the girls that she had never met. Since the eldest is now 10, it had been long enough. After a short, but meaningful visit, they left to meet us for dinner.

When we got home, we delivered invitations to our immediate neighbors for a BYOB get together tomorrow evening. We’re supplying appetizers (TBD) and they will awkwardly mingle. We’ve become the social organizers of our end of the street! It should be fun and will help our neighborhood get along just a bit more.

02. December 2012 · Write a comment · Categories: Home · Tags: ,

This morning, I went out for breakfast by myself for the first time in months (years?). I went out early looking for shower door parts. There were no parts to be found that I was looking for (I had already located replacement parts on Amazon). So I took advantage of my location and headed to my diner of choice for breakfast! I had a short stack of buttermilk pancakes plus coffee to satisfy my early morning appetite. While I can make similar pancakes at home, I had neither the ingredients nor the desire to do so.

Since I was by myself, I decided to sit at the counter at the diner. The one thing that I always love about diners is that you almost always meet the most interesting people if you take the time to just talk to them. This visit would be no different. I joined the counter group, although most of the stools were empty this morning.

The guy sitting to my left was busily finishing his breakfast when I arrived. He had long hair, with a reddish tip to just ponytail. He was quietly finishing up his breakfast, seemingly like he was passing through town, rather than from town. I thought little of it and ordered coffee and the desired short stack. After my food arrived, he had finished and was making a phone call. Not caring to listen in, I tried to pay more attention to the TV showing some stupid kid show, but was drawn to his conversation.

He was talking to someone about an area that needed assistance from hurricane Sandy. Eventually, I couldn’t let my interest in the conversation go by, so spoke with him about what I had overheard. My wife and kids think I’m a freak because I always talk to strangers in line at the grocery store, in the parking lot, or almost anywhere else I find myself standing next to people I have yet to meet.

He was heading to Brooklyn (NY) after picking up whatever he could at Home Depot. He was organized through one of the Burning Man groups, and had friends that had been there several weeks earlier. He was headed down to help in whatever way he could. Knowing that I couldn’t help much, I handed him a few dollars, asking that he put it towards something they needed. It helped me feel better knowing that I helped someone who was heading out to help others!
While this was a brief interaction, it just goes to show how speaking to a stranger can sometimes create an opportunity to learn something new, meet someone with an interesting story, or just expand your own small world just a little bit.

26. November 2012 · Write a comment · Categories: Home · Tags:

Today might be Cyber Monday but it was still a normal work day for most of us. I bought very few things today, although my wife bought some dresses and other unmentionable garments for her upcoming cruise. In January, she and our daughter are heading to the Caribbean courtesy of Sue’s mom and our daughter’s graduation present. For some reason, neither of them had the right clothes for the cruise. So while we didn’t buy anything cool, we did get something practical!

In respect for not giving away secrets, the items purchased to date have included a couple of movies and a small gift for my wife, all from Amazon. I am a sucker for free shipping, especially two day shipping for a flat rate all year long! We hardly use the “prime” video services, so they don’t really influence the decision to continue the prime shipping service year over year. It is mostly the convenience of knowing that almost everything we buy will be shipped to us in two days or less. That alone continues to justify the annual membership price.

Nice dishwasher to the left, huh? Well, here’s my story about how long this took to get. It’s installed now, but that’s just the end of the story. It begins like this…

Back in April, we received a recall notice from our dishwasher manufacturer (Maytag). It seems that the JetDry reservoir was leaking on many of those (or other brand) dishwashers. It would leak onto the wiring harness, causing fires in many cases. Of course, we should stop using it immediately and contact them for both replacement parts and recommended dealers. We have been using this every day since I installed it long ago, not long before my employer stopped selling appliances. It was dependable, quiet, and certainly not dangerous — not until the reservoir started leaking on the wiring. We contacted Maytag, received the new part (inner door and new wiring harness), then contacted the dealers listed who was closest to our home out of the three possibilities.

A few days later, a technician from the dealer came to make this simple swap of door and harness, but ended up shorting out the main circuit board and apparently the heating element. Of course, he indicated that we would be the recipients of new components to get it working, after he tried once to tell me that I would have to pay for the heating element. Of course, I reminded him that it was working when he walked in the door, and certainly expected that it would be working at no additional charge when he completed his work. After speaking with his company, they ordered the part and a new technician showed up to replace the part. He refused to actually install the part until we paid for it (which I had zero intent of doing), so drove off in a huff. Okay, now we were getting PO’d.

After multiple calls to the service company (they knew our phone number by now), we finally talked to the owner who assured us that this type of rude behavior would be dealt with in the strictest of manners. Yeah, right. She also assured us that she would have the parts replaced at their cost. Maytag sent us several other parts, and their technician came back to install them. No good. Another round of calls to the service dealer left my poor wife just fit to be tied. At this point, she initiated calls to Maytag. Now, let me assure you that if you can ever get through the phone tree at Maytag, you are a better person than I.

The trick, it seems, is to just never press anything. The phone system then presumes that you don’t have touch tone service so will finally let you talk to someone. We finally spoke to someone in their executive response center who was somewhat sympathetic after we explained that we had been without a dishwasher for over two months due to the incompetence of a representative service company. They came to the determination that they needed to review the situation and get back to us. After no call backs, we tracked down the same person at Maytag and she determined that the only solution was to provide us with a replacement dishwasher (cheaper for them). She would call us back with details… and the saga continues…

Many voicemails later (another month had gone by), we finally spoke to another human being. It seems that Maytag Executive Response person #1 had left for maternity leave. No one was picking up her voicemails — it was just allowed to collect without review. This person actually provided her extension so we could reach her directly. She provided us with a model number for our review (to ensure that it would be acceptable as a replacement), and told us that if we agreed, it would be 3 – 4 weeks until our replacement would be able to be installed. Of course, it would be installed by the same company that fried the original dishwasher…

Earlier this week, we received two boxes from Maytag containing parts (a pump and logic board). This after they had the new dishwasher order in process. After calling Maytag again, they sent us one return label for one of the two parts. My wife determined that she was holding those parts hostage until the new dishwasher was actually installed. This was the only thing she could do to provide some sense of power in this whole fiasco. We also had a voicemail that the new dishwasher had arrived at the dealer.

When she called the dealer to arrange installation, the dispatcher told her that they didn’t install the dishwasher. She about came through the phone. The dispatcher put the phone aside to talk to the owner who told her that they would do whatever the customer wanted. Zero cost, all parts and labor included to get this done. I finally think that they wanted to be done with this mess as much as we did. Of course they hadn’t been doing the freeking dishes by hand for the past 4 1/2 months!

Yesterday, they were to show up between 1 and 4 to install. Of course, 4:00 came and went as you would expect. Finally, at 5:00 they called and said they were on their way. They remove the old dishwasher and found that the hose would not work (the old hose, not the new one), so had to head to Home Depot to get parts. When I got home from work, the old dishwasher was sitting in the front yard (very attractive), and the new dishwasher was unboxed and in the middle of my kitchen. To make a long story even longer, they finally finished their installation at 7:00 last night.

Okay – so 30 wasn’t that cold. We were outside from 11 until 4 yesterday. I actually took off my gloves a few times when it reached a balmy 35. It’s damn hard to pick up deck screws with leather gloves. We got one set of stairs (4 stairs, 8 feet wide) done, as well as putting up a 16 foot railing. No one will fall off the end anymore! One more set of stairs and a few rails and replacing the original deck boards that are remaining. I think even I can do that with some assistance. I know I can tear them down since I did the first ones!

Then the finishing begins.

There will be a bunch of sanding on the edges. Also, we need to find lights for the corners and the rest. They are so stinking expensive. We’ll have to run the electric in PVC to keep the squirrels out. It seems that the electric wires run outside have some sort of chemical that the squirrels think that they need in their diet. Sure wouldn’t want to eat those squirrels.

So, I got to crash and burn last night. Stayed downstairs until 9:00 – but mostly slept from 7:30 until 9. Sitting down was all that it took. Hauling around lumber is not something I often do, so it just wipes me out!

The kids both had sleep overs last night. One at our house (2 12-year old boys are easy), and our daughter at a friend’s house. She will come back cranky (always does), but it was a chance for her to see a friend for the first time in a month or so. Since pulling the kids out of daycare, they miss some of the other kids. Not writting that $200 weekly check is a good thing, no matter how selfish it makes me.