Friday, March 11, 2016

Family Update #1 -- Ace & I

I noticed that the last time I updated was around Santamas... so, here ya go!

(1) We've finally started working on our yard plans! First up is the raised garden beds. We started by designing it on the computer. We then marked and used string & garden flags to visualize the space outside. We dug down a few inches, got the dirt (mud... haha) leveled as best as we could, then used landscape pins to put some pvc-coated mesh (longer lasting in our wet climate) wire down (to keep the moles, etc out; thanks, Amanda, for the suggestion!). After that was finished, we went out "rock hunting" to figure out what kind of crushed rock and what kind of border rocks we wanted. We found rectangular border stones at Lowe's, and bought eight of them for now; those were placed edge-to-edge perpendicular to each other to form the corners of the whole area. Ace & Princess spent 15 minutes making sure those were level (ish). Our next step is to get 3/4" minus and 3/4" clean; the minus will be put down, tamped down, and leveled, then we'll put a layer of landscaping fabric down, get more of the bordering stones to finish the border, make sure those are level, then build the squared "U" shaped beds, place that & level, and put a layer of the clean down. It will hold the landscaping fabric down, be a better pathway around the beds, and will help hold the beds in place a bit. When that is done, all we have left is dirt & seeds...
(2) Our 10y old tv (a 60" Sony rear projection we got for an excellent price from Crutchfield, btw) crapped out about three weeks ago. We've been pricing and comparing tvs for the last year or so, anyway, because we knew this one would go out eventually and Ace likes to spend a long time researching (hence the reason it took us two years to get the yard started). It was about 10pm, and it just went black. The little LED on the base blinked off then on -green-, then off then on -red- nine times; repeat. Ace looked it up; nine in a row is a fan. Ok... there are three fans in there, so we turned it around and tried to turn it on. Figured out it's the fan near the lamp bulb. The following day, we moved the 48" from our room (where it's not being used, anyway) out to the living room, to hold us over 'til we could fix the big one or get a new one.
We figured, "It already doesn't work; what's worse case if we try to fix it? That it *still* doesn't work? We can part it out, then." A few days later, after he'd had the chance to find some videos, we watched one very detailed one together. He asked, "Think we can do this?" I said, "I'm feeling 80% confident." So, we opened her up. Now, keep in mind that the inside of a tv is basically a computer... and my husband has built all of our desktops (plus a bunch before we were together). He also has a degree in Electrical Engineering (one of his three degrees). So, one afternoon, we took it mostly apart - screen off, speaker off, metal plate off, projector lamp covered (to protect from dust), plastic housing off, lamp out, wires disconnected, one of the circuit boards off... now, how do we get to the fan housing? Unscrewed a bunch of stuff, took a bunch of pics of our progress while we had the video up and paused, and we got the housing out. It was really dusty so Ace took it out to the garage and used the air compressor on it. We then put it back in, put it back together up to, but not including, the speaker wires. Turned it on; same error. UGH!
At this point, Ace was irritated, and we'd already settled on a tv (a 70" Vizio 4K model that got super high ratings) so we got that ordered from Costco and he started dinner. About half hour later, he said, "BABE! Come here." So I went into the kitchen. He said, "What if the speakers need to be connected for it to work?" I said, "A continuous loop? It's possible." After dinner, we plugged in the speakers and turned it on again. WOO HOO; IT WORKED!
So, we put the big one back in the living room and the smaller one into the spare room. Ace then said to me, "It's not too late to cancel the Costco order..." I said no; figuring we could sell this one. I was ready for the newer one, anyway. Good thing I did, because a few hours later, it went black again. This time, the fan wouldn't move at all. Ok, then; perhaps the fan's motor was bad. We priced them out and found that for less than $20, we could get a new fan. If, after we fix it again, the tv worked, we could sell it for $200-$250. If it doesn't work, it would be worth maybe half that in parts. Totally worth the price of the fan. So, we ordered the fan and switched out the tvs again.
The following day, while I worked, Ace decided to don his "lovely" Tyvex suit and crawl under the house. He split the cable line and ran the phone line in there, so we can actually use the DVR that's in there, as well as hook up the phone line to the 3-In-One (printer, copier, fax). He has to fax his medical stuff in every six months for his leave, and if the power ever goes out, we may need it for a wired phone (we have a grey one in the garage).
The fan showed up about 3 days later, but we didn't get to it until earlier this week. It was so much easier to take apart the the third time! We were able to replace the fan and put it mostly together in less than three hours. However, when we went to test it out again (yes, the speaker wires WERE connected this time), we got a *six* flashing red LED light error message. Hmmmmm... Ace looked that up, laughed, and said, "Duh." When I asked, he goes, "We forgot to put the lamp back in." HAHAHAH! Ok, then. That done, we turned it on again, and it works fine. YAY! He then connected it to the DVR, the VCR/DVD player we still own, and the computer. He's been playing regular video games, Rock Smith, stuff off Steam, using Netflix, FaceBook, and the DVR for a couple random shows... if it's still in good working order this weekend, we'll put it up for sale (it's a great tv, but way too big for that room); the 48" will go back in there once the 60" is sold.
(3) During all of this, we've been on the phone three times, and chat once, with Frontier -- our DVRs are old (currently one is watch-only, the other records; we can watch/record only up to two shows at a time, and the recordable one is only 180G), the aux/battery back up for the internet went out (we're currently using our house back up, temporarily), our bill was way too high & kept rising, and the speed tests proved we weren't getting the speed we were paying for. They fixed our bill, we're getting upgraded DVRs (two at 500G each, watch/record up to six at a time), a new Aux box for the internet, they sent a new battery, and the upload/download speeds (which now match) are even a bit higher than the number on our new plan... for $100+ savings/month from our last few bills.
(4) After the garden/beds are done, we're planning on putting in a compost bin and redoing our gates. (A) We're trying to figure out what kind of compost bin we want and what type of base we need for it, and (B) We're starting to finalize plans for the two gates -- the one to the left of my garage will be a single panel wood or composite swing style, and the one to the right of my house will be a double open, to allow for vehicle access. Not sure yet if the panels will swing in, out, or both...
(5) We've been able to hit up multiple concerts and shows lately... the last one was Shinedown at the Roseland last week. Standing room only, but great view and not packed up in the "over 21y" area. We also stopped for pie at Shari's before going home. Next up is Jeff Dunham, then 2Cellos. Also, our 12th wedding anniversary is coming up in a few weeks. ;)

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