House

News about the home front.

Hawk

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Whoa!  Olessia and I are pretty sure the bird we saw was a hawk in our backyard.  I'm not sure if it was Cooper's Hawk or a Sharp-shinned Hawk.  Which ever hawk it was, it caught a local House Sparrow.  That hawk was a very impressive bird and had swooped in from out of nowhere.  Sorry, we didn't have enough time to get a camera.  As soon as we spotted the hawk, we saw it take off with the sparrow. 
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It’s July 4th

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Mmm… It's July 4th and at 11:30am, you can already smell the lighter fluid!  The weather is looking like it wants to rain.  The temperature is awesome – just warm enough for shorts.  It is a good day to grill!
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Maple Heights Park to close?

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It started out like a typical Wednesday. Its chore day for me. Time to take out the trash and clean the litter boxes. If there’s any odd ball chores left, I like to include them in Wednesday routine. Wednesday’s special: mowing the lawn with a side order of edge trimming.

I completed everything and decided to tackle the trimming using a weed wacker instead of the hand trimmer. It was working out ok. I was making a good bit of noise. My neighbor across the street (who has the BEST lawn on the block) was out tending to her grass and garden.

A bunch of kids, I’d say about high school age, start merging at our corner. I’d probably say there were 10 or so kids, plus or minus a few. We have a park, and for one reason, they didn’t go to the park, but hung out in the street across from the park.

This happens every now and then, but tonight, they were loud. How loud? I was 4 houses away, running a weed wacker, and I could still hear them. I turned to the neighbor across the street and she’s shaking her head and telling me they’re too loud. I walked over to talk to her. She said she was just thinking about calling the cops. As she complained about the kids, 2 cop cars immediately pull up. Then a 3rd one comes in a hurry. Apparently someone else called the cops. The cops are there and for 5 minutes, you can still hear yelling and profanity (I’m thinking directed towards the cops).

After 10 minutes, the cops clear the group out. I ended up talking to the neighbor for a bit and a 3rd neighbor came out. I got all sorts of neighborhood info from them. Word is the city plans to close the park down the street. They don’t have enough man power to patrol the park and the park has been taken over by older kids. Its a shame. The park is kind of nice. No one knows what will happen if it does close.

About 20 minutes later, one of the cops pulls up towards us and talks with us. The officer was nice. She was genuinely concerned. She was concerned for the neighborhood as a whole, which was cool. I learned that if you have someone trespassing in your yard, and your big angry dog gets them, the police don’t mind.

Also, the neighbors want to setup a block watch. The officer said another section of Maple Heights had setup a block watch and ended up driving 2 bad families out of the neighborhood.

The general conclusion from everyone I talked to was the neighborhood was going down hill. The cause of the down hill (they feel) is: parents don’t care about their kids (no control, no discipline – kids and their parents feel its acceptable to mouth off to the cops!) and Maple Heights is letting in too many section eights (government program that helps people with housing/rent).

Also, if you’re on Warrensville Center Road, south of 480 and north of Rockside, there’s drug dealing going on at every corner down Warrensville – from what the officer said. Ugh.
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Garage wired

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I’ve wired the garage to a Linux box. I found some code and instructions on how to persuade Linux to monitor the parallel port. I tweaked the code some and got it to run as a service. Then I tapped the phone line that runs to the garage and plugged it into the parallel port. Its a pretty clean install and didn’t require any additional holes into the garage. From the phone jack, I made an RJ-11 connector which branches out to a magnetic switch. When the garage opens, the switch opens and the Linux box records it.

In the end, its all kind of silly, but it is mildly practical too. We often leave the house and forget if we remembered to close the garage. Now we have a way to check from our cell phones or from the ‘net. I have NO plans to connect a garage door opener to the computer (although it wouldn’t be that hard at all to do).
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Receptacles installed!

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Whoa! I rewired two outlets (aka: receptacles) in the basement. Used 12-2 grounded so I can plug my computer gear in. The previous GFCI outlet worked, but wasn’t passing any current on to its neighbor. I wired out a new GFCI outlet plus the additional outlet and did some testing. All is good! Whew! Plus, no blood was lost and nothing was electricuted!

After getting the electrical done, I was feeling pretty cocky and decided to tackle CAT5 network wiring. I’ve never ever attached a CAT5 plug. I had tried the other day and had zero success. After a few more tries tonight, I got a link light! I know from past experience from watching friends do it that a link light doesn’t mean the cable works. I haven’t plugged in any computer gear to actually send data down the cable. I’m just going to enjoy the thought that the cable at least shows a link on the hub. In this picture, the white data cable going into the hub is the one I was messing around with. The hub is plugged into my newly installed (and grounded!) outlet. Sadly, the lights on the hub are not very visible.

Hub plugged in

Here’s a shot of the 2nd outlet with a surge protector plugged in.

Behind the dryer
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New washer

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The new washer made it!

I’ve also posted a few pics of the outlets I’m working on. The gray outlet has just been screwed in, but doesn’t have any power going to it yet. The yellow one needs to be replaced and upgraded with ground.

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Fixing up the house

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Labor Day weekend gave me some time to hammer out some house projects. Olessia wanted to display her dolls she brought back from Russia. So we had picked out some shelves and lighting and I got those mounted (pictures are in the gallery). I’m not quite ready to do my own track lighting install, so the wall mount approach was used.

We went to the Cleveland Air Show on Monday. We got back late on Monday so last night (Tuesday) I finished the last of the home projects – gluing the front siding back up on the front of the house. This was a different section which hadn’t been glued yet. So now the front of the house is looking good again.

The Air Show was good. Not a lot of static displays. There were about 4 A-10s, 2 F-18s, A C-130, a Navy helicopter (the Navy’s newest apparently), Metro Life Flight’s helicopter, a Continental airlines plane, 4 Canadian military aircraft, and some other Navy stuff. That was about it. No C-5 Galaxy or handful of C-130 aircraft. In fact, I don’t think there was any Air Force aircraft on static display (the C-130 was Air Force Reserves). I’m guessing all the aircraft are out and about saving the world from evil-doers. Sadly, and to put things in perspective, there were more consession booths then there were static aircraft.

The show wasn’t all bad though. We really had a lot of fun at NASA Glen’s display. Every year their display gets better and better (I think) and bigger too. They had a bus setup as a theatre and we kinda looked at it like it was goofy (it looked goofy on the outside), but inside it was really nicely decked out. They had a big flat panel display in the back and you sit in a swivle lounge chair. We watched a 7 minute movie on MER. The video was awesome. Great choice of music – Lenny Kravitz’s “I want to fly away” (I think that was the song) as they showed the launch and landing of a rover. Then the movie ended with Steven Tyler of Aerosmith telling us to stay in school (that kind of made us laugh). From the bus, we moved onto their display tent and it had a lot of displays showing the work done at Glen Research in Cleveland. If I read the display correctly, they used their wind tunnels to help test the foam insolation for Discovery’s return to flight (they even had foam we could touch). Olessia even had her picture taken – I have to get it scanned in. They had a setup where they take a picture and then almost instantly impose the person’s face inside a space suit and then print it out – all in under a minute, I would say.

Ok, so we had fun at the NASA booth. The highlight of the show, the reason we paid crazy prices for tickets and for food, the reason why we waited and walked around the show for 3+ hours, was all to see the Thunderbirds demonstration. It was an excellent show. What was cool was on Saturday and Sunday, we could hear the Thunderbirds getting ready over our house area – about 5-10 minutes before 4pm (4pm is when their show actually starts). It was good stuff. I have pictures from this event being developed – I should have them on Thursday, maybe.
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A little home improvement project

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The garage has the mailbox slot and by design, the mail is supposed to be inserted and dropped down into the box to be retrieved later on. Trick is, not much fits down the box and usually three quarters of the mail is stuck hanging out to soak in the elements. Not good.

Some short work with a hammer and a crowbar and I was able to free up the inside mailbox. Then with some minor adjustments, some roofing nails, I made more room for the mail. Trick now was to put a basket of some sort in place. Olessia had the great idea of using one of my milk crates (I have a pair that originally made up my first coffee table). The crate fit perfectly between the studs and I secured it with some more roofing nails. Then it was time to test. I tossed in a magazine and the mailbox setup worked perfectly! Here’s some pics:

the mailbox and with mail.

I also did some grilling (pork chops).
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Weekend fixing the house

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Another busy weekend. Saturday Olessia and I went out to get dirt for the yard and plants. Also brought home an oak tree for the front lawn. I had to hurry and plant it before my haircut. After the haircut, we went to Mentor to go to a birthday party.

Then Sunday dad came over and busted a move on the house. He fixed several siding issues as well as replaced some trim. Then we went up on the roof and fixed a hole that was causing water to enter the attic and drip in the garage. Then he left and I started moving dirt (filling in holes and ruts in the lawn). Olessia spent the day planting new flowers all around the house. I’ll post some pics when the flowers start coming up.
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One year ago today…

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Wow! One year ago I bought a house. Check it out: April 1, ’04 (and poke around some of the April posts).
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