February 5th, 2004


Parents gone, the place is mine once more...

My parents left for Minnesota sometime yesterday morning after closing all the window shutters and locking the doors. Again I think my father got a bit overzealous in his attempt to help secure the property... I was perplexed when I got home last night to find that my garage door opener's remote wouldn't actually make it open any longer. I parked in the driveway, used my key to unlock the access door and did a bit of investigating. Once I took a look at the opener's control panel I figured out that the "lock" feature had been activated. This option was put in primarily as a nod to those of us who use the garage for storage or as a work area. It seems that some burglars figured out in the late 80s that if you take a programmable remote and drive up and down a street you can eventually stumble on a code to open the garage. If the homeowner is away on work or vacation that means the burglars would have free and easy access to vehicle, tools and whatever else might be of value. By using the "lock" it keeps the garage door from responding to signals from the remote, effectively making them have to work a few seconds harder to get at your valuables by prying open the access door instead of just opening the vehicle with the remote.

So, in the whirlwind five days that my parents were in town, what did I accomplish at Z'ha'dum?

  • We painted the computer room. It is now the Blue Room of Death, and with the technique applied it looks really nice.
  • All outlets near water sources (kitchen outlet and bathroom outlets) have been replaced with Ground Fault Circuit Interrupt outlets. Now I won't die if I drop my hairdryer into the sink! Of course, you could argue that I wouldn't die from such an accident because I have no hair and thus do not need to use the hair dryer.
  • We emptied out the storage unit, and earned myself a refund check from the management company.
  • We removed the leaking bypass valve on the water softener. Actually we attempted to repair it first, and when that failed we just cut it out of the waterline entirely. If you can't fix the problem, eliminate the peripheral that's causing it! I don't need a water softener anyway, the lake water is soft enough after the city treats it.
  • We replaced the wall switches in both bathrooms, and one set of wall switches in the kitchen. These new switches are much nicer.
  • We changed out the oversized breaker in my electrical box, thus preventing the possibility of branch wiring overheating and catching on fire.
  • We emptied the apartment of my posessions, leaving only a few cleaning supplies for me to use on the bedroom carpet and my fish. The fish will probably get dealt with this Saturday.
  • We put corner protectors on all the walls, thus preventing the nice paint job that looks like wallpaper from getting ruined.
  • We organized my furnace closet. I can get at all the bulbs now without getting killed.
  • We organized my garage. I can park the Expedition now without getting killed.
  • We set up the day bed in the guest room. With the trundle taken out it can sleep two people, thus preventing anybody from having to sleep on my couch if they don't want to. Unfortunately the day bed had no mattress, so my mother and I had to go out shopping for a pair of twin mattresses that weren't too expensive but weren't too cheap to sleep on in comfort. We ended up finding the best deal on a set of mattresses at Sam's Club, the same place I bought my queen-sized bed. Naturally this is the last place we looked. We should have started there first.
  • We unpacked about two-thirds of my kitchen. I have some pots and pans to put away, and then that should be done.
  • We cleaned out the exhaust ducting for my dryer. There was an incredible amount of lint in there, and that lint represented a significant fire hazard.
  • We shortened the flex-hose for the exhaust vent on the dryer, eliminating a fire flashpoint (It had a huge coil in it that basically "trapped" the lint).
  • We stopped my washer from "walking" across the utility room. It's amazing what happens when you properly adjust the feet!
  • We set up part of my family room. The TV, the DVD player and the VCR are all nestled into the entertainment center now. The area rug is in place in front of the couch. The recliner is tucked into a corner with a new lamp behind it for reading, and the end tables have been set in place.
  • We changed out the art in my bathrooms. There were framed collections of seashells in there originally, and those just weren't my speed. It's a small thing, but it helps the house feel more like my home.
  • We unpacked boxes and set out things like floor mats, table lamps, mattress pads, snowmobile suits and tools.
  • We used the angle grinder to put a nice new edge on my snowshovel. I bet I'll be able to clear the driveway without a problem now, even in those pesky spots where tires and feet compact the snow.
  • We sorted through some of the things that were left in the house when it was sold to me. There was a lot of weird stuff in there, some valuable things and some absolute junk left over. Amidst the things that were vaulable: a 5-foot-tall step ladder, tools, an entertainment center and much more. The odd things: children's toys. The junk: childrens toys.
  • We found the original floor plan and site survey for the house when it was in planning and construction surveys. It's really neat to look at, and while it wasn't preserved as well as one might hope it offers an interesting snapshot into the past and the history of the property.
  • We hung closet organizers.
  • We patched the holes left from the shelving system in the guest bedroom, and painted over it.
  • We replaced incandescent bulbs with cheaper, nicer floursecent bulbs.
  • We examined the wiring to the garage and found it wanting. Spring project: rewire the garage on its own circuit, hang the cold-weather flourescent worklights, put in an outlet box for the garage door opener.
  • We moved window treatments around between the guest bedroom and the computer room. I think it looks a lot more striking this way.
  • ... and much more.

It's been a busy and productive couple of days. I owe my parents a great debt of thanks for all the help they've given me. While I was at work they were dilligently handling little details like unboxing pots and pans. Without them I would have still gotten all these projects done... but I wouldn't have gotten them done anywhere near as fast. The best part about Z'ha'dum is that it didn't need any major work, just simple little renovations -- a large number of which have been resolved over the last couple days. This is probably the best $171,000 I've ever spent. Okay, it's the only $171,000 I've ever spent at once, but I think I got good value for my expenditure.

At this point I just need to continue forward with the process of unboxing and placing things. Now that most of my major furniture (save the fish tank) has been placed I can also hang art... that's a process that is going to take a week at least. I figure if I keep going at a steady pace I can get rid of all the boxes before the end of February, and have a place that looks pretty respectable in the bargain. It's starting to feel a lot more like "home," and I'm looking forward to being here for quite some time. The upcoming projects like building the bar will certainly serve to increase the value of the house and keep me busy at the same time. Let's hear it for sweat equity!

In your eyes